We’re in a strange limbo between flexible working and the clock-in, clock-out practices of the past. By this I mean, that, in most companies, each employee is the agent of their own schedule. There’s an unspoken autonomy given that suggests that you can leave the office whenever you want despite being contracted 9am-5pm.
Writing for The Muse, Richard Moy details his experience with this shift toward leaving as soon as you’re allowed to. He speaks of how he’s been conditioned to hang around after 5pm just to give the illusion that he was going to the extra mile.
He then tested to see that if he left at 5pm everyday, like his contract allows him to, whether it would lead him to falling behind or being reprimanded. It revealed some interesting things about the average office schedule.
Here are four things you can learn by leaving the office at 5pm everyday.
1. You have to be intentional about leaving
When you’re in the middle of a piece of work, it’s very hard to just shut down when the clock strikes 5. You tell yourself that you’ll leave after this paragraph or this page or whatever.
Nobody wants to stay late but if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing right. You have to figure out a way to leave at 5pm regardless of what you’re doing. Maybe set an alarm at 4:45 so you can begin finishing up.
2. You’ll give everyday a deadline
Because there are, now, a limited number of hours in your day, you’ll realise that you need to maximise the time that you spend in the office. Whether that means having fewer coffee breaks or dedicating a few hours every day to strong focus. When you leave at 5 you’ll feel accomplished and appropriately tired.
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3. Free time will be that much sweeter
Just because you’re leaving before others doesn’t mean you don’t love or care about your job. After getting home and eating, you’ll remember how nice it is to have an hour or three each evening for yourself.
Rather than just killing the rest of your evening watching TV, you’ll have enough time to catch up on your favourite shows as well as spend time with your other hobbies.
4. There’s very little that can’t wait until tomorrow
Few things as are urgent as we make them out to be. Patience is a virtue and as soon as you start prioritising what’s worth giving your life up for, you’ll find yourself closer to achieving the idyllic work-life balance.