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Leave Work In The Office

Updated on April 22, 2010

Improve your work/life balance by leaving work in the office.

Ever feel like there aren't enough hours in the day? You're not alone. According to the United Nations' International Labor Organization, "Workers in the United States are putting in more hours than anyone else in the industrialized world."1 It's important to find a balance between work and home, but how?

Know your limits

Take a look at your workload and examine how many hours you work during evenings and weekends. If you think you work efficiently, but find you have to skip breaks and take work home to manage, it's time to talk to a coworker about the amount of work you're expected to do.

Managing your time

Many people could simply manage their time more effectively2. There are many things you can do to improve how you manage your time.
  • Create an organized environment. How organized is your desk? How much time do you waste trying to find things? Create an efficient workspace and file paperwork so it can be easily retrieved when needed.
  • Plan each morning, look at the day ahead and plan what you hope to achieve. Prioritize what needs to be done so that the most urgent work is completed first.
  • Be efficient. If you need to talk to your coworkers, go to their desk rather than allowing them to come to you. This way, you control the situation and can return to your work when you want.
  • Be honest. If you are running late for a deadline, tell someone in advance so a solution can be found. Maybe there is someone who could help.

Work will fill whatever time you allow. Learn to put time boundaries around how much work you are willing to do outside work hours. Find a middle ground that satisfies both you and your company and stick to it.

Be flexible

If you can, try and be flexible in your working hours. If you have to leave early one day to collect the kids, then arrange to come in early another day. Or if you have to work on the weekend, try and negotiate a couple of hours off during the week. You have to identify your priorities and work with these.

Time out

You are not a machine. We all need time out from work to relax and recharge our batteries. Working too much for a long period of time can cause your productivity to drop3.

Although work is important and you have a responsibility to meet certain targets, it should not be the only thing in your life. You don't want to look back in 20 years and wonder what you did with your life and where the time went.

If you feel that the time you spend working is spiraling out of control, you probably need to change your routine. It can be tempting to put in a few hours work to fill any gaps in your evenings or weekend, but you need to make a commitment to yourself not to do this.

  • Enjoy your free time. Recognize that you work hard and deserve a break. Don't feel guilty about putting aside time just for yourself. If anything, it will make you more productive.
  • Learn to live. What did you do last weekend? What will you do next weekend? Think about things you want to experience and make a commitment to do them. Spend some of your hard-earned money on having fun.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there has been a significant increase in the number of men and women working more than 40 hours each week over the last 20 years. This is based on data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor 4. Most employers recognize that employees work best when they have a good work/life balance. And so do the eomployees who work 40 plus hours each week. However, many people do not know how to achieve this balance3.


  1. United Nations' International Labor Organization.
  2. Greener M. The Which? Guide to Managing Stress. Which? Consumer Guides. Essential Advise on Bolstering your Own Stress defenses. Penguin. 1996
  3. Eliot R and Breo D. Is It Worth Dying For? How to Make Stress Work for You, Not Against You. Bantam Books. 1989
  4. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Update,


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