By Alan Henry
Many of us can’t wait to pack up and head home at the end of a long workday: we count down the hours and as soon as our shift is up, we’re out the door. For others, there’s a stigma to leaving on time, or worse, we have a difficult time forcing ourselves to leave the office, whether or or not we love our work. Here are some ways to break the cycle of working late and get your evenings, and sanity, back.
You might not have the willpower to just leave on time at the end of every day, you may feel like you have to stay late, or maybe you’re on a roll or your coworkers are still there. Still, there are ways to coax yourself to leave.
Make Leaving Worth Your While
If you provide yourself an incentive (or by contrast, a punishment) to get out of the office on time, you can trick yourself into wrapping up your work every day at the same time. It may not cut to the core of why you get lost in your work, or feel like you have to work late, but it does provide you a reason to get out of the office on time. Here are a few suggestions:
Have a family member call you each day. If one of your primary concerns about working late so frequently is that you’re missing out on time with your spouse, partner, friends, or children, one great way to get that jolt back to reality is to have one of them call you when it’s time for you to head home. You’ll need to sit down and talk this over with your family, and you’re explicitly telling your family to force you into coming home every night, but those are good things if they achieve the desired goal. Talk it over with them and ask for their help.
One of my colleagues at former job used to get a call from his wife or daughter when they knew he should be packing up to head home. It wasn’t enough to have dinner ready when he got home, he needed a bit more motivation to actually stop working and leave the office. Hearing his daughter’s voice at the end of the day was just enough motivation to make him want to go home and see her. Alternatively, enlist some friends to call or SMS you to remind you that it’s time to leave the office-or to meet you after work.
Schedule an activity right after work, every day. If you’ve been meaning to get into shape, take a yoga class, or volunteer at a local charity, making sure you sign up for activities that will force you to leave the office at a regular time every day is a great way to stay active, do something with yourself outside of the office, and give yourself incentive to leave the office every day on time.
For some people, getting a gym membership is enough to encourage them to not waste the money they spend every month and get out of the office and to the gym every day. For others, it takes a little more: meeting a friend at the gym every day at the same time, for example, or signing up for a sports league or volunteer shift that begins at a time that requires you to pack up and leave the office at the end of your day if you want to make it to your next obligation on time.