Nine Ways To Leave The Office By Five

Time-saving ideas that can help you avoid working late.

Prioritize an Exit Strategy: For starters, make heading home at 5pm, or an appropriate quitting time, a priority. It's hard to meet a goal that you haven't set, so pick a time and stick to it.

Focus, Focus Focus: If you're tired of late hours, be sure to manage your time well during the day. Even the most motivated amongst us will admit to time spent slacking. Read our tips for time-blocking to use your time more efficiently.

Say No to Guilt: Don't feel guilty about leaving work on time. If your co-workers are still at their desks, it's easy to feel embarrassed about heading out. Don't. You may be a more efficient or focused worker than your peers. As long as your work isn't being shortchanged, leaving on time is okay.

Say Farewell to Face Time: Some office cultures unwittingly encourage or reward "face time" making it harder to head home at a reasonable hour. If this is a problem, take time to talk with your boss or co-workers to explain (and demonstrate) that your time in the office is highly-focused and productive. Justifying how efficiently you use your time makes it easier to head for the door.

Spread the Load: If you are burning the midnight oil because you genuinely have an overwhelming amount of work to do, it's time to talk to your boss about redistributing the load. Before you do so, take a few weeks to keep track of how you are spending your hours so your boss can understand the scope of the work and the time its taking. This will help both of you assess how to redistribute load.

Start Small: If heading out the door at a set time every day is a big mountain to climb, start small. Shoot to leave work by 5 or 6pm one night a week and then add a day at a time.

Have a Plan B: When all else fails, plan to finish work from home. While bringing work home isn't ideal, sometimes you just want to put the kids to bed or meet a friend for dinner. So head out the door to attend to your personal needs and commit to wrapping up the remaining work at home.