How To Leave Work On Time

It's Friday, you've had a busy week and you really don't want to be leaving late today. Here are a few tips to get you out of the office and finishing work on time or even early.
  • Start by giving your work colleagues and your boss a heads-up that you need to leave early to reduce the risk of last minute questions or urgent work requests.
  • Plan your day - make a list of the tasks you absolutely must get done today. Allocate time slots in the day when you're going to do them.
  • Prioritise your list - what's important, what could wait until Monday? Can anyone else help or do the task for you? Be realistic about how much you can complete in the time available.
  • Work backwards from the time you need to leave. Manage your time and plan the tasks on your to-do list accordingly.
  • Stay focused - avoid any distractions or interruptions that stop you from getting on with your tasks or delay you e.g. lingering for a chat by the coffee machine, interruptions from colleagues etc. Work in short bursts - you'll stay focused and be more productive.
  • If you can't avoid Friday meetings altogether, avoid last minute or late meetings. Keep them to the morning. If they run over you'll be under even more pressure to complete any follow ups or actions before you need to leave along with your now delayed tasks.
  • Make phone calls or send emails that need a response in the morning to allow time for them to reply and for you to action. Remember to add this requirement in any requests.
  • Stop work at least 10-15 minutes before 4pm to give you time to clear your desk, file any paperwork, shut down your computer.
  • Book an important personal appointment that means you absolutely must leave on time. You're less likely to start 'just one more thing'.
Set the intention of leaving on time and treat the end of the working day as a 'deadline' not a movable timeline where you just keep working until you've finished.

Creating a definite end-time will help you stay focused.

How to find time to exercise for an hour a day

"Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness"

A recent report in the Lancet says an hour of exercise a day can counteract the many hours we spend sitting at our desks, in front of a computer or watching TV.

Long periods of sitting increase your risk of premature death more than obesity (another good reason to get moving) and smoking. Inactivity increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

50% of women and 30% of men fail to achieve even the recommended 30 minutes a day. 

But we're all so busy, how can we find time to fit in an hour of exercise?

It doesn't have to mean going to the gym or joining an exercise class, although that can help. Just get more active throughout the day and it all adds up.
  • Get up from your desk every half an hour. Use the Pomodoro concept of 25 minutes of work and a 5 minute break. You'll be more focused, more productive and spend less time sitting.
  • Take a walk at lunchtime. Avoid the temptation to eat at your desk. Find some green space if you can, walk to the shops or just around the block.
  • Get up and go and talk to your colleagues face-to-face rather than pinging them yet another email or using the phone.
  • If it's a short meeting - stand don't sit. Not only will this keep it to time but you'll avoid adding to your sitting time.
  • Walk or cycle to the station instead of taking the car. Even better if you can walk or cycle to work or ...
  • Get on or off the bus, train or tram a stop earlier and walk the extra distance. Whether it's work, a trip to the shops or just around town.
  • Walk to the shops. How many of you jump in the car to pop to your local shop? Many of my neighbours do it - it's less than a 10 minute walk to the nearest 'corner' shop and only 15 minutes to a larger supermarket (OK, even I drive when I have more than a few items to buy).
  • Use the stairs at work rather than the lift. While you might not want to walk up every floor, if your office is on the 20th floor, taking a few stairs to go up or down a couple of floors will get you fitter.
  • Walk up escalators. They're not just for standing on, unless it's really busy and no one is walking up them.
  • Download and play PokemonGo - this game is being credited with getting people out and about outdoors and walking. [Warning - download this at your peril, it's likely to be addictive and you'll actually 'waste' more time playing it!]
  • Get a pedometer or use an app like MapMyFitness (Walk, Run or Cycle apps) or activity tracker - Fitbit or Garmin to monitor your activity. Even if you only use it to see how much you do, you can also benefit from working with your friends and seeing how you score. The competitive element can be enough to motivate you to move more.
  • 15 minutes of stretching or yoga is a good way to ease out those muscles and joints which have been in one position for hours at a time.
It all adds up. 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day and 30 minutes at lunch time is more achievable than finding an hour to go to the gym. Several '5-10 minutes of activity' throughout the day can make up the recommended one hour.

Make the most of the longer hours of daylight and the warmer weather to get out and about. Get away from your desk, increase your activity and feel the benefit.

Hour's activity offsets 'sedentary day'. (BBC News)

Delegate Don't Dump

Delegation is a great way to increase your productivity and achieve more, especially if you have limited time available.

By delegating you handover or outsource tasks that someone else is better qualified, more skilled or can do quicker than you.

However, there is a tendency to 'dump' tasks rather than delegate. These are more likely to be the urgent tasks, you've left to the last minute or possibly, for a similar reason had 'dumped' on you.

Think about the following points when you delegate or handover work to someone else.

What is the task being delegated? Work this out before you delegate a task. Give as much detail as needed and be clear and specific. Don't assume they know or you'll set them up for failure from the start and waste time when you don't get the outcome you want or expect. Confirm they understand what's expected.

Why is this task important? How does it fit into existing objectives and outcomes. What is it's priority and importance compared with anything else they might have planned.

When does this need to be done by? Give them a date, time when you need this task completed by or milestones reached. Allow plenty of notice so the person can plan it into their schedule.

How will it be done? What systems, processes, actions are required to complete the task and in what way. What resources do they need? Avoid being too prescriptive or seeing only 'one way' to do the task. There may be better ways if you allow some flexibility and creativity and focus on the end result not the specific method of achieving it.

Who is going to do this task? Do they have the time and skills to complete it in the time available. Are they the right person for the job?

Keep these in mind and you'll successfully delegate more of your tasks and free up more of your time.