Making sure you leave the office at the same time every night is an excellent way to begin establishing important boundaries. It adds a healthy dose of routine to your life, and it helps to create a hard line in your day when you can stop thinking about work and start focusing on other equally important elements of your life, such as family and friends.
Have you ever seen a video of a shift change at a big factory? As soon as the bell rings, the halls get crowded, and people at the end of their day head home as the next group files in. This type of rigidity was hated, and it’s slowly disappeared from our perception and understanding of work.
But because of this, and also because of the rapid rise of digital technology in the workplace, we’ve swung pretty far towards the opposite direction. Nowadays, between flex time and the ease with which we can stay connected even when not at work, working hours have blurred with the rest of our lives.
And, not surprisingly, this has led to us working more. In fact, some 35 percent of people feel they work more hours when they have easy access to work via the Internet, according to a Pew Research poll. When we work more hours and blur the lines between work and the rest of our life, there can be all sorts of consequences on our overall health and well-being.
Work-life balance means something different for everyone. But there are little things we can all do that will help us lead healthier, more balanced lives. One of these is leaving the office at the same time every day. Here’s why this is so good for you:
It helps establish boundaries
One of the most difficult aspects of our digital lives is creating boundaries. If you’re at home, and you receive an email from work, it’s hard not to look at it. And then once you look at it, it’s hard not to attend to it. And once this happens, you’re plugged back in. All the stress and worry that comes from your job has just infiltrated your space. This is a real problem, so much so that in France they’ve passed laws against communicating with people about work after regular business hours.
But one of the reasons you even receive these emails and messages is because people expect you’ll respond. However, if you can successfully establish boundaries, you can help to eliminate this from your life. Or at the very least, you can train yourself to ignore these communications until the time is right to tend to them.
Making sure you leave the office at the same time every night is an excellent way to begin establishing these boundaries. It creates a routine in your life, and it helps to create a hard line in your day when you can stop thinking about work and start focusing on other things. If one day you stay until six o’clock, and then the next day until 5:30, followed by a day where you stay until 7 o’clock, it’s hard for your brain to know what to expect. Forcing a little routine into your life will make it easier to divide your time and to turn off your work brain when it’s time to do so.
It increases productivity
One of the most frequent misconceptions we make about work is that more hours mean we get more done. There is a lot of research out there to suggest this simply is not the case. Specifically, those who work 70 hours a week don’t actually get all that much more done than those who work 50.
This seeming contradiction may be hard to wrap your head around at first, but it makes a lot of sense when you stop to think about it. Fatigue is a real thing, and if you’re spending that much time working, you’re going to get behind in your other responsibilities, further dividing your attention and hurting your productivity.
By setting a time for leaving the office each day, you’re effectively limiting the number of hours you can work in a week. Of course, you can be a little flexible, but creating this hard stop in your day will help you take advantage of the hours leading up to it.
This has a positive psychological effect, too. If you know that each day you need to leave by, say, 4:30, you’ll have a better chance of focusing on what you need to complete that day. When you leave your exit time up in the air, you can always fall back on the “well, I can always stay late” logic. This type of procrastination is not healthy and will ultimately prevent you from being at your productive best. And when we’re more productive, we’re happier with ourselves. It’s that simple.
While it might go against what we think is logical, when it comes to working hours, less is more. Set a time to leave the office every day and see how this positively impacts your productivity.
It allows for a better work-life balance
Work-life balance means something different for all of us. We can’t possibly segment our lives perfectly into work and “life.” Emergencies, unexpected events and deadlines will shift things around. But you do need to find a way to make a separation between work and your other interests and obligations.
Making sure you leave the office every day at the same time is a good way to do this. There are two reasons: 1) as we mentioned before, this helps train your brain to switch off at a certain time and focus on other things; and 2) setting a firm time for leaving the office allows you to make better plans for your personal life.
This second one is key. How many times have you been asked to dinner or invited to go watch a game and responded, “Well, if I get out of work on-time.” When you respond this way, you’re essentially putting work before all else, and this makes it hard for you to focus on other aspects of your life in a meaningful way. Choosing a time to leave the office every day means you can comfortably make plans to do things outside of work without having to worry about breaking them. This signifies to yourself and others that you care about finding that balance and are going to draw lines where you need to for this to happen.
Is it 5 o’clock yet?
Ensuring that you leave the office every day at the same time is a great way to help you better balance work with the rest of your life. You’ll still need to be flexible; walking out in the middle of a meeting or while finishing a job isn’t going to be helpful. That being said, if you can establish a consistent arrival and departure time for your work routine, you can help reduce stress and increase the time you have for things outside of the office.
If you have some health issues getting in the way of you sticking to a consistent routine, here are some tips on how to find a doctor or therapist in Singapore. You can also speak to a doctor online on RingMD from wherever you are (just click the button below).
Doctors on RingMD can provide you with medical advice, and depending on where you are, they may also be able to write you a medical certificate and online prescription. You have a right to deal with your pain. We’re working to make sure everyone takes health and wellness more seriously, and everyone gets the care they need.
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