I’m a fan of Kathryn Dill‘s work at Forbes, and she reported on an interesting piece, How To Leave Work By 5 P.M. And Still Get Everything Done.
Here are seven key tips she outlines, along with two of my own that can help you escape the office by 5 P.M. and still get things done:
No. 1 Qualify Your Time. Figuring out how you actually spend your time versus how you plan to allocate your time during the workday is a great place to begin. Get started by keeping a simple log for two days, review at the end of day two and streamline where possible.
No. 2 Shorten Your To-Do List. List 3 – 5 must do’s and ditch the rest. There are no bonus points for having a long list – when you don’t get to everything. Remember to delegate smaller tasks when possible and team with co-workers or peers where appropriate.
No. 3 Set An Alarm. Alarms can help you take control of personal issues, keep you from becoming easily distracted, and help you firm up personal deadlines. Interestingly, alarms are not just for waking up and a simple phone alarm can help you escape a meeting that is running long while increasing your productivity throughout the day
No. 4 Cut Down On Email. Experts recommend eliminating it from your first waking hour and your first working hour each day. Adjust by starting your day proactively attacking tasks rather than reacting to messages.
No. 5 Plan Your Work Three Days In Advance. By taking time to plan your work three days in advance, you will not only stay on track during the day, it will also give you a better understanding of your work load. This can give you a better big picture view, to see if you are in a position to step up and take on additional tasks.
No. 6 Triage Tasks On Arrival. Scenario: If you are committed to leaving work at a certain time and a late afternoon task arrives that requires your attention (that isn’t a matter of corporate life or death). Option: you need to access and act in the time remaining – not simply commit to an evening in the office.
No. 7 Build A Dynamic Life Beyond The Office. The reality is that work expands to fill the space you give it. So be sure to prioritize the end of your day. For most people, the best way to be more efficient during the workday is to build a dynamic life beyond the office.
Before signing off, two personal tips that I find valuable:
No. 8 Organize Priorities For 5 Minutes – The Night Before. This can be as simple figuring out your wardrobe for the next day and placing critical items (e.g., brief case, computer, et al.,) by the door you will exit from the next morning. Another tactic, create a smart phone note with a short list of tasks to tackle the first 20 minutes after arriving in the office.
No. 9 Get Moving And Recharge. Research shows that in workplaces where regular breaks are encouraged, productivity increases and rates of sickness decrease. A healthy approach I have adopted includes conducting a walking meeting at least once a day.
Did you find one of the tips helpful? Let us know. In the meantime, here’s to productive days and more 5:00 P.M. office departures.