Balance, Career Advancement

How to leave work on time without feeling guilty

Photo credit: Stephanie Frey, Shutterstock

Photo credit: Stephanie Frey, Shutterstock

Setting boundaries at work can be tricky. On the one hand, you feel committed to the cause and want to demonstrate that you are excited about the work. On the other hand, we know the downsides of working too long and too hard: stress and burnout.

One way to set boundaries is to leave work on time. Over at the Daily Muse, Lea McLeod, founder of the Job Success Lab, shares advice on how you can start leaving at a time that feels right for you. Here are a few tips that stood out:

Begin the Day With the End in Mind

This sounds basic, but I’m convinced that many people don’t leave work on time simply because they don’t set the expectation that they will. Instead, they simply go with the flow of the workday, working on whatever comes their way and neglecting to block time on their calendar for priority work. Then, at the end of the day, there’s still a pile of work to do—all because they didn’t plan for 5 PM.

So, when you arrive in the morning, identify the time you want to leave that night. Put it on your calendar, set an alarm on your mobile phone, or simply make a psychological commitment to that departure time.

It can also help to join a class or social group that meets at a set time after work, which will give you an extra incentive to manage your day to get out of work on time.

Tell People When You Have to Leave

If you start telling people you need to leave at a certain time, you’ll be much more likely to do so. Make the commitment to yourself, and then share it with others: As you discuss plans and assignments throughout the day, tell your colleagues, “I’ve got to be out of here on time tonight, so if you need something, let me know by 3 PM.”

By encouraging your co-workers to give you as much notice as possible for any requests and setting the expectation that you won’t be available in the early evening, you’ll avoid unnecessary last minute assignments or meetings.

Try this method one day, then another, and then the next. Eventually, you’ll retrain your colleagues to expect you to leave on time every day. Plus, saying it out loud and owning your goal to leave on time will help you feel more empowered in your ability to do so.

Read the rest of her advice on the Daily Muse.

Do you have advice to share? Add them in the comments.

1 Comment

  1. Janie

    Thanks! This is excellent..something I struggle with!