When I was in my early 20s I loved to watch Sex and The City. I was working weekends at the time and I would sneak episodes while I was writing or producing for the news. I hoped it was an accurate picture of what my life would be like – brunches and after work, get togethers with the girls. However watching it back these days I can tell you my life is not really like that. Did those girls ever actually work?
While we can’t all live the glamorous lifestyles of Carrie and Samantha, we can still make it to happy hour. Provided of course, that we get all our work done. When we’re buried under a heavy workload the chances of leaving work on time get slimmer and slimmer. But it is possible, all it takes is a little planning.
Here are some of my secrets to help you head out the door at 5!
- Make a roadmap of your day – Every day, when I’m nearly finished with work I create a “roadmap” for the following day. I’ve stolen the idea from my time as a live news producer. We always have a rundown to keep us on track during a live show. Your work day should run the same way. Having this roadmap means I can hit the ground running and everything goes so much smoother when I get in the following morning.
- Don’t answer the phone – Only answer if it’s absolutely necessary. That means the person who is calling can give your information about the task you’re working on or you have an appointment for the call right then. It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in conversations that go nowhere! You’ll get back to them later – just add it to your list.
- Break the day up into chunks – Got some mammoth task you’re really not looking forward to? Split it into smaller chunks and distribute it throughout the day. Giving yourself a chance to look at emails, etc in between will help to ease your frustration. Breaks are our friends. But don’t get sucked into other projects. Give yourself specific time limits.
- Backtime – I’ve talked a little about backtiming before. It’s a concept I got from working as a TV news producer. You start at the end goal and work backwards. So what do you need to have done in order to get out of work on time. Make a list of all these things and how long they will take. If you incorporate this with your plan from the night before you can create a schedule for your day.
- Make a meeting checklist – The biggest time suck in the office is not people checking their social media or chatting by the water cooler, it’s meetings. Who hasn’t been in a meeting that has gone on for an hour longer than it needed to? Meanwhile the mound of work on your desk just piles up. By having a meeting checklist you can make sure all the important things are covered, but it can also help to move the whole process along!
So now the only thing left to decide on is what you’re drinking when you get to happy hour!