Cut Out The Overtime, Leave The Office At 5

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work balanceAmericans spend most of their day–and in some cases–their evenings–in the office. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, Americans clock in more office hours than any of their global counterparts. Full-time workers average about 47 hours per week in the office, which equates to just about six days a week. And nearly four in 10 workers said they do 50-plus hours in the workplace weekly.

But working all these hours might just be counterproductive, say experts. “Yes, you should leave the office at 5 PM due to three reasons: 1. Safety issues – you’re most likely to be less focus, thus more chances of making mistakes and decision that can hurt your organization.  Mistakes made when fatigue can hurt you, your co-workers or customers.  It’s not worth your time to continue working only to produce so little or risks possible liabilities; 2. Productivity drops dramatically after eight hours of work.  In fact, productivity may drop so much after some point as to become negative productivity.  In other words, mistakes while doing overtime not only cost the company one and a half of your regular pay; it also requires them to pay other people to correct the mistakes you made; and 3. Work-Life Balance – people need to make time for things that truly matter in their lives and take time to recharge,” explains career coach Charina L. Flores, a VP of HR for the Barbelo Group and Adjunct Professor at the University of Washington and Bellevue College.

There are things you can do to get out of the office on time.

–Just Say “No”: It’s okay to take on extra work from time to time, but not always. Just say “no” when you feel the extra workload will affect your work-life balance and will not be beneficial to your ultimate career goals. Also, say “no” to after-hour meetings for work.

–Make “Me” Plans: Instead of meeting clients or colleagues after hours, schedule a pleasurable activity after work. Make a gym date, for example. This way you will look forward to getting out of the office on time and will actually do something for yourself.

–All In The Scheduling: Do your big tasks early in the day and leave the smaller tasks for the end of the day; this will make it easier leave the office on time.

–Communicate: Inform your manager that you need to leave the office on time. If you make this commitment to leave on time, share this with your higher-ups.  Say something like, “I need to leave on time tonight, so please if you have anything for me to do by the end of the day please let me know by 3 pm and I will get it done.”