Have you ever noticed what happens at the end of the typical work day in an environment where the employees are paid hourly?
- They start wrapping up their work about 10 mins before the end of their day
- They clock out
- They LEAVE
Imagine for a moment if you, as a salaried employee, did that too (minus the clock out part).
Crazy, right? We have different expectations, we have results to achieve, and the idea of a 40 hour work week is more of a minimum requirement than a suggested schedule. Regardless of the number of hours you are working, at some point, you do have to wrap up work and turn your attention to another activity or another person.
Question: In an ideal world, what time would you want to leave work? And how close are you to that each day?
Especially as the great work-from-home experiment continues, many of us are RIGHT there – literally living where we work. We’re seeing our kids and spouse more, but are we present with them? It’s become harder to end the day now, than it’s ever been before! There’s always one more e-mail, one more chat message to reply to, a few more edits to make. While many of us traded in our commute time for more work, at some point, we have to call it done.
Fellow achievers, this is the hardest part. For me, this began with being crystal clear about why I needed to leave work. It could be anything. Exercise, connecting with a friend, my turn to cook dinner, enjoying dinner together, picking up the kids, playing with the kids.
When I chose to stay plugged in, I had to acknowledge that I was giving up what was planned. Sometimes, these trade-offs are worth it. Finishing a project. Celebrating with the team. Capturing my thoughts before they left my brain. Helping a co-worker. Meeting with an executive who didn’t have any other time. It’s good stuff!
The decision to do more work can absolutely be justified. The question then becomes whether it was a conscience decision or am I just on auto pilot as I continue to be heads down in my inbox. How often do you stay past your personal “go home” time? Once a month? Once a week? Most days?
I’ve seen enough professionals burn out to know that the misalignment between when you WANT to close the laptop and when you ACTUALLY DO is not something you can’t ignore for long. Can you work harder and longer and then go back to “normal”? Sure, but only when you know when the sprint is over. If you don’t know, it will become your normal. I’ve seen entire teams where desk eating becomes the norm, and work e-mails continue to flow in, so you just keep responding, all evening long.
If the always-on method is really working for you, why are you still reading? There’s personal pain in the constant flow of e-mails, meetings, messages, texts, and phone calls. I know you’re missing life, and want to get back to confidently nailing your job, instead of your job nailing you to your computer. Let’s start today. Let’s set our closing time and make late night work the exception, instead of the rule.