How to Get Everything Done at Work & Still Leave by 5 P.M.

A lot of full-time workers find themselves spending way too much time at work. If you’re wondering how you can juggle getting everything done and still having a life post-work, read on.

1. Figure out what you’re doing with your time. What you find out could surprise you. You may be trying to do too many things at one time, which means you can’t focus on anything. It’s important to eliminate distractions. Use a time diary or online tracker to figure out where your time is going.

2. Limit the amount of time you spend communicating. There’s no need to check your e-mail ten times during the day. Only listen to voicemail at allotted times. If you’re in charge of meetings, figure out how you can make them shorter. Professionals like Pete Briger know that a big key to success is staying focused.

3. Ask yourself if those minor tasks really have to be on your daily list, or if you can do them weekly or monthly instead. On that note, do they have to be on any list at all? Can they be eliminated, made more efficient, or outsourced? Becoming efficient at your regular tasks will free up a lot of time during your week.

4. Make a list on paper, not on some new app that promises to keep you organized. First of all, literally writing down your schedule and “To Do” list is still the most effective way to plan your day. Secondly, using a pen and paper keeps you away from energy- and time-sucking screens, whether it’s your phone, laptop, or tablet.

5. Set alarms throughout the day so that you stay on task. Alarms aren’t just for the morning! Setting reminders for yourself throughout the day will keep you focused on making progress. This way, you won’t get wrapped up in a day-long project that really couldn’t been finished in an hour or two.

6. Plan each day three days in advance. Then, adjust that plan at the end of each day to make up for tasks you completed ahead of time or things that you didn’t end up getting to. Knowing that you’re going to finish certain things during the week will give you the peace of mind to leave work at the end of each day.

7. When you have a daunting project, commit to working on it for one hour, no matter how much or how little you get accomplished. Then, take a break or move on to another task once that hour’s up.

Having a lot to do isn’t a good excuse for staying at work past your allotted time. When you allow yourself time away from work, you’ll have time to refresh and work better the following day.