Are you one of the lucky ones? Are you one of those people that loves your job but doesn't spend all your time working?
Have you heard the people say that when you love your work, it doesn't feel like working? I'm not sure that is true.
When I have a deadline and I'm in the office late and my friends are going out for dinner without me, however much I may enjoy my job between the hours of 9 - 5, I know I enjoy it slightly less at 11pm.
Over 80% of us work more than 40 hours per week and 28% of us work more than 50 hours. I reckon, I'm in that 50+ hours bracket. For about 45 of those hours, I love my job, the rest, well put it this way, I have spent a lot of money on buying bottles of wine and presents for friends after cancelling on them and I'm not sure I can charge that back to work?!
The nature of my job means that there are busy periods and quiet periods so I know that the quiet periods will come. But do you remember the last time you didn't feel guilty about leaving work at 5:30? If you are finding youself working late all the time, try one of the below:
Talk to your manager
Unless you are contracted to work 16 hour days (which I am pretty sure is illegal), if it is becoming a regular occurence, you need to tell someone. It is not just your responsibility to manage your time. Your manager will be able to make decisions around bringing in additional resource and frankly, that's why they get paid the big bucks It is their job to help you. You will be a lot more productive if you are able to have a good nights sleep once in a while.
Write a list, write lots of lists
I love a list, the curse or blessing of planning events for years. The satisfaction of ticking things on a list can make each boring little job that little more exciting. Breakdown your list though, don't just write something like 'write report'. Try breaking it down into 'write sub-headings' 'gather research' it will still all amount to you writing the report but it will feel a lot less intimidating if you can do little parts of it. On your way into work in the morning, write a list of all the things you need to do that day, only that day. You can keep a long list for the week but write yourself a list for the day and be realistic. Try to plan your time so that you've got an hour spare, you can guarantee that something will take you longer than you had expected or someone will drop something on you right at the end of the day.
Plan your week
I know that there are some days I can work late and there are some things that I just don't want to miss. Look at your week as a whole, can you put a few extra hours in tonight to make sure that you can leave on time tomorrow? A stitch in time saves nine as your Mum probably says.
Go for a walk
I hear all the time about people being too busy at work to even go to the toilet. You are not that busy. A very wonderful boss of mine many many years ago told me how she'd ended up with a kidney infection because she'd been so busy at work she couldn't find the time to go to the toilet. That stuck with me. That is not good. Clear your head for 5 minutes and just by stepping away for that short time, you will come back to your things to do list with a lot more clarity. It's amazing how often I find clarity in the toilet!
Find a hobby
I know, you're too busy for a hobby, the reason you're reading this is because you are working late and you don't have enough time. But I've done it, it can work. I decided to start a new fitness regime when I was working stupid hours. It was hard work and I was exhausted for weeks but then something in me changed. I started going to the gym at 6am at least once a week. It killed me for ages, waking up even earlier but when I realised that I was using that hours in the gym to clear my mind, I was being far more productive on those days than I was on other days. Having that place that was mine, that I physically couldn't work in, helped balance stress levels which will always help you be more productive at work.
There will be days that you will have to work stupid hours and you will love your job just that little less. But make sure you don't lose the love for your job by doing it too regularly, it doesn't help you and it doesn't help your boss.
Check out my other blog on how working longer hours can help balance your work:personal life. I'm not contradicting myself, sometimes if you don't think about working between set hours, it can also help.