Get home sooner

I had a job once where people lingered rather than made an exit. It wasn’t necessarily that we had to stay late, it was more than no one wanted to be the first to leave. We would clack away at our keyboards until our boss finally would pack up and head out.

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When it comes to work life balance, stepping out at the end of the day often means navigating career making or breaking office politics. The art of the exit isn’t always easy to master.

In summer time, a quick and easy exit from the office seems even more necessary when daylight extends longer and it’s still possible to take an after dinner stroll.

A few years ago, I wrote a column called The Art of the Exit. This month’s Working Mother Magazine said only 44 percent of moms get out of the office on time. It featured some great tips from organizer Laura Stack. I combined pooled ideas from both articles to bring you some suggestions for exit strategies:

1. Do a daily 2 p.m. check in. Look at your to-do list and figure out what still needs to get done. If you wait until 5 p.m. you will end up staying later.

2. Say no to last minute requests. If your co-worker or supervisor waits until 6 p.m. to make a request, let them know it will get it done the next day. Train them to respect your schedule.

3. Block off the last half hour. That’s the time for preparing for your exit by picking up what you printed out, cleaning off your desk, making a to-do list for the next day or grabbing you Tupperware from the fridge.

4. Make a date. Put something fun on your calendar after work hours and give it importance. Treat it like an impending deadline.

5. Check in with your boss – briefly. Give him a quick update or at least wave on your way out. Trying to slip out unnoticed often backfires. You may need to assert yourself politely and firmly as you say goodbye to let your boss know you have commitments outside the office.

Readers, do you struggle with leaving the office at the end of the work day? Do you get caught up in the urge to check email one last time or make a phone that lasts longer than you expect? Why is a clean exit so darn hard for most of us?

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