Article by :Andrew McGregor

Recently I shared some content on ‘always leaving the office to time’. This was my interpretation of content produced from Dr. A.PJ. Abdul Kalam. A revered scientist and ex-President of India. The response was incredible, viewed by over 1.7 million people with over 50,000 shares and comments which were quite honestly mixed.

A great deal of replies was short and to the point being 'Amen', 'Great article', 'love your work', 'must practice this more' and my favourite being 'no one on their death bed ever said I wish I had worked more'.

There were those that shared emotional and honest stories, notably Doug who lost his daughter to cancer at 15 wishing he had spent more time with her than at work.

But then there was a great deal of negativity, 'you don't understand aged care', 'what about nursing/doctors', 'you're deluded and will never be successful', 'sounds like another millennial'. And regretfully there were many who were insulted by the very idea of being called a fool, loser or incompetent. Don’t take it so personally, it is likely you are not fool, loser or incompetent. I don’t know you and neither did Dr. A.P.J, I was giving my interpretation on content, talking generally and without mean to cause offense. There will always be moments where we sacrifice our time for a client, colleague, supplier etc. Now and again is understandable if dealt with properly, but all the time never.

Many have asked for a follow up and I have tried to reply to a few comments so below is my thoughts on how we can always leave the office on time. Before you do remember this, I do not know what it is like to be an engineer, a solider, a doctor, a nurse/doctor etc. All I know is what it is to work in the civil service and recruitment sector which both have their own targets and high expectations.

In response to those who work from home, or love what they do so it’s not work. You know what that’s great but this isn’t about you, it’s about your family and friends. I’m sure whilst they want you to be happy at work they don’t want to feel like 2nd best.

Can you all practice what I preach into your role, I don’t know but maybe have a read and see. How we can make sure we leave the office on time that I do myself.

  • Set up your next day before you leave the office

Leave work knowing you have a plan in place for the next day, be assured this will mean when you get home you can have personal time and not threat before going to bed about what tomorrow will bring, you already have a fair idea!

  • Prioritise hard to do tasks and allocate sufficient time

Remember you only have 4-5 hours a day of real brain time. Don’t come in and do emails/admin, work on the hardest tasks first. By getting them done this will give you a positive feeling to crack on and get the easy stuff done.

Don't give yourself 20 things to do, you won't do it. Think about how long each task is going to take, then think about breaks, disruption. Be SMART about your objectives.

  • Manage your Inbox

Why have you got hundreds or thousands of emails in your Inbox? Delete them once they have been dealt with.
Create a CC folder today, set a rule and reduce your clutter.

If a phone call will answer a question in 60 seconds why are you writing an email. Honestly get on the phone and stop wasting your time.

  • Have personal time in the morning/before work

Don’t jump on your emails/work phone when you wake up, get social with friends/family, read the news, exercise, engage with those around you, get personal and go to work ready to work.

  • Rarely does anything go to plan, don't lose your head

It’s true, we will do what we can and plan with the 7’s P’s in mind and then you’’ll receive a call or email and everything changes. Fine, no problem. Just think on what is the real priority for you and then go again. Don’t get emotional or irrational, that’s just a waste of time.

At work get off social media, you are on your employers time so use it wisely!
Buy a 2nd phone, take your IPad/tablet and have all your personal accounts there and a professional phone for just that. There is time to be social and there is time to work.

  • Take and manage your breaks.

Think in intervals or however you work best. Go outside, walk, breathe, get social, reset and go again.
Take lunch, and take it properly. Get away from your desk, shop, eat, exercise, and reset!

  • Manage your colleagues and manager’s expectations.

Be honest and direct but listen to advice and mentorship.
Never appear to busy but appear focused on managing daily tasks.

  • Ask for help, don’t put your head in the sand.

Finally, understand and communicate what 'on time' is and what 'late' is
We don't all work to set hours or times. But most of us all know when the working day ends and begins. Understand and work to those boundaries. Don't let your friends and family feel like they are 2nd best.

So in summary can we 'always leave the office on time'? Yes, just depends where, when and what that time looks like.