July 17, 2008

Nine Ways to Leave the Office by Five

Time Management Tips by Sharon Mann

Are you usually the last one to leave your office every night? Do you have trouble managing projects? This article is designed to provide you with some time management tips that will guarantee you'll never have to stay late at work again. Specifics may vary from person to person; however, the following information includes helpful and important guidelines from which everyone can benefit.

Not many people enjoy having to stay beyond the usual quitting time in the office and you probably feel the same way. Of course, occasionally you cannot avoid working late. Yet, a good majority of reasons for a late stay involve poor planning. We're sure if you think about it you can come up with dozens of strategies to steer clear of working beyond your usual quitting time.

Here are 9 time management tips that will help you leave the office on time:

1: Keep your working area in order.
You might be amazed how a messy desk can be so distracting that it can cause you to waste many minutes, perhaps an hour or more each day, looking for stuff.

2: Write things down at the beginning of your day, or the night before. Regular readers of this newsletter have heard this suggestion from us before. Having a plan of attack for the day can do wonders in keeping you on schedule.

3: Minimize phone calls at 4:55.
We're not suggesting that you do not answer your phone (your boss probably wouldn't appreciate that). But be aware of a conversation that might last well beyond your scheduled departure time, and if possible, ask if you can continue the call in the morning when your mind is fresh.

4: Begin meetings earlier.
If you have the authority to schedule meetings, try not to set one up any time after 4 pm because odds are the meeting may go on well past 5 pm.

5: Speak up.
As mentioned above, sometimes working late can be unavoidable. However, that does not imply that you should feel obligated to work late all the time. If you have to be home at a certain time for your family, say so.

6: Prepare to leave.
Things like backing up your computer files for the day are included as part of the job. There's no reason why you can't perform such tasks at 4:50 rather than at 5:00.

7: Beware of the talky late-day visitor.
You know who were referring to: the co-worker who shuttles over to your workspace and engages you in a conversation that becomes a 1/2-hour distraction, keeping you away from your work and causing you to stay late so you can finish.

8: Keep yourself out of the "I must catch up" trap.
Admit it; you never really do catch up fully with all the work you have to do. And staying late probably won't change that. Remind yourself, the work will be there tomorrow.

9: Be true to yourself. You may often feel the urge to take on more work than any human being can handle, maybe as a way of impressing your boss. Working hard and striving for promotions is great. But think about it, does your boss really expect you to handle more than you can all the time and stay well past 5 pm each and every evening? If so, you might consider speaking with him or her about their stance on quality of work vs. quantity of work.

About the Author
: Sharon Mann is President of the I Hate Filing Club, a group of nearly 100,000 office professionals who hate filing but love finding new ways to become more organized.

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