Do you get moments when you are right on time with your day’s tasks, and excitedly look forward to your end of office time? Do you just get ready to leave, apply some lipstick just in-case you walk into a future fling or Ex flame. All I am trying to say is do you ever get ready to leave, and just as you are about to pick up your bag and go, you take a look around office, and no one is flinching, no one is showing a sign of leaving, in-fact their heads are bent into their computers as though it is just the start of day?
When this happens, do you always go ahead and leave?, or do you decide to wait another hour, look for work to get busier, and not look like the lazy, uncommitted and unproductive employee? What do you do?
I have seen a high number of employees get done with their portion of work as early as 4-5 hours into their 9-hour working schedule. They then tend to “switch off” and revert to doing other things like scrolling their phones, watching YouTube videos, make endless trips around the office, engage in conversation etc, this group of employees does not exclude me, neither you.. “Insert grin”.
The way life is, work systems engineer us into believing that busy is the dope. We live in a society that equates being busy and working long hours as important and commitment to our jobs. It does not need a complex formula for one to realize that the busier we are with work/ the longer we spend at work spaces, the less time we give to things outside of work. This distorts the boundaries between work and life
When we don’t contain our work hours, we sacrifice the time we need for the activities that replenish our energy stores. Things like exercise, family dinners, meeting up with friends, and even spending time in nature, all which are imperative for long-term mental and physical health, and, ultimately, our productivity.
My whole point here is not the hours you put into work, it is the apprehensiveness that comes with leaving at the time stated in your contract. It is no secret that some employees stay longer at their work desks, beyond their working hours with the thought that it will impress the boss, or immediate supervisor. Besides impression, employees also live with the fear of what they will be thought of once they are the ones constantly walking out of the office at 5pm dot.
You have probably heard it before, but hear it from me once more;
Working long hours is bad for your health, and bad for your work. This is not to state that there should be a limit to how long one should work, however, anything that is excessively done obliterates passion. We have growing cases of mental health, depression, stress, heart attack, dementia, optical issues etc… rising up in Uganda’s health trends because Ugandans are working more than they care to spend time with their loved ones, doing the activities that help them see a different side of life. For some, work is an escape route from the world (and maybe I should soon write about this, God give me Grace) that they feel has them encamped and lost. So they work more than they live.
According to research and shared experiences, working extra hours affects your productivity. As the day goes on, your productivity lessens by the hour. I will give an example of myself, I am more upbeat in the morning hours or if I am working late long hours, however after lunch, I am a bag of sleep and boredom. I cannot tolerate meetings after lunch because digestion is happening and my body demands rest, so slowly my eyes start to do a shut down. I can honestly doze in-between a presentation—This has happened several times, I am not even trying to be funny. Some presentations just sound like lullabies honestly.
Here is a blunt truth, if your boss or supervisor hasn’t noticed you during working hours, they probably never will. You are hired to show your creative abilities and critical analytic skills within the stipulated time. You don’t have to sacrifice your life proving your commitment to your job by staying long hours. In-fact employees should become the radical lot that question their employers as to why they are being stretched into boundaries that weren’t agreed upon during the recruitment process.
How to ditch the stay long at office routine
Get started. It is one thing to declare you are going to be different, and a totally different thing to be different. Therefore getting started produces momentum and later Motivation. If you leave work by 5pm, make sure to start preparing your whole mindset by 4:30pm. Pack up, write your to-do list for tomorrow, clean your work-space etc etc
Do what is important first, and embark on scheduling the unimportant stuff for later. That is why I suggest you have a day schedule. We shouldn’t be making a show of working overtime and filling our after-work hours with stuff we could easily do tomorrow between the hours of nine ’til five. We shouldn’t be feeling guilty for leaving at the time our contracts state we’re allowed to walk out. And powering on past our working hours shouldn’t be the norm. It’s not healthy, and it needs to stop.
Judgement is on your mind. Stop thinking people are drawing conclusions to your principles. You therefore need to get the guilt and worry that comes with standing up from your desk at five on the dot. If you have done your days’ worth, you aren’t ditching the office and leaving other people to do work that needs to be done. You aren’t lazy, uncommitted, or unfit for the job as the people that are sticking around late. So don’t be tempted to stay later than you should.
Mentally think about why it is important to leave work on time. Like we said earlier, leaving work on time is good for your health and productivity, good for your relationships and friendships, good for the much needed lone time, needed for evaluation. Remind yourself that it’s more important to work better than to work longer. You need to remember that there’s no way you can be creative, great at solving problems, and generally brilliant if you’re overworked and exhausted. The quality of the work you produce is more important than the amount of time you spend at your desk.
Lastly, set the example, you’re contributing to a workplace culture where it’s entirely okay to leave on time and have a life outside of work, where people don’t feel shamed into skulking out at 5.40 when they finished their work an hour ago. Which is a brilliant thing. Stay late on those occasions that you need to. Leave on time when there’s really no need to stick around. And stop feeling guilty for doing it.
Starting today, at 4pm, 5pm, 6pm GO HOME…. LEAVE THE OFFICE