I just read a CNN article about Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.  She leaves work every day at 5:30 so she can be home with her children by 6:00 PM to have dinner.  She does admit to reading her work email after her children are in bed.

When I was CEO I left work each day at 5:30 to get home in time to walk my dogs – Annie and Jake.  Also, I didn’t work weekends.

Are you consistently working overtime – more than a 40 to 45 hour week?  If you’re not, then these tips may not be of any use to you.  If you are, read on.

Tip 1:  Be realistic.  Make a list of all the things you need to get done.  Make another list of all the things that you’ve been procrastinating about getting done.  Each day take one thing from the procrastination list and start one item even if it is the smallest action.  Items you’ve been meaning to get done often cause you to work on everything else to avoid them.

Tip 2:  Delegate.  Could someone else do something on your list.  Give others the opportunity to learn something new.  Show someone how to perform a new task.  This may take a little extra up-front work but it’s worth it in the long run.

Tip 3:  Plan ahead.  Decide what you’re going to work on each week.  Put down no more than one task to complete each day.  Use your concentration and focus to make sure it’s off your plate by the day’s end.  If you’ve got a day booked with meetings, don’t plan on getting anything done.

Tip 4:  Negotiate.  If you can’t get everything done and deadlines are not realistic, take it to the powers that be.  When you lay things out in black and white you can ask for help and understand what is the most important to complete and by when.

Tip 5:  Prioritize.  This is closely related to tips #1 and #3 above.  Always ask yourself what has to get done today, tomorrow, etc.  What can you do today that will help you with tomorrow.  Can you repurpose a presentation that you used last year?

Tip 6:  Practice.  Get up from your desk and walk out the door at the end of the work day.  If this is new for you, your colleagues may wonder if something is wrong.  Perhaps you’ll start with one day during the week, add an additional day, keep going until it becomes a habit.

Tip 7:  Limit your time.  Remember how much you get done before you go on vacation.  That is because your time is limited.  When you know you only have until 5:00 to complete something, it helps your focus and productivity.  You won’t have time to chat or get distracted.

Remember that employees who are constantly working extra hours send a strong signal to upper management – you are not able to manage the tasks you have been given – you’re probably not a very productive employee.  Who is more likely to get the next promotion?

What time do you leave work?  Have you tried any of these tips?  What works for you?  Leave you comments below so we can learn from you.

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4 Responses to Overtime

  • Edward W. (Ted) Probert says:


    Great advice for all of us, regardless of our current positions. I do copy your messages such as this one for my Leadership class @ LWHS. They are very instructive. Thanks.

    Best to you and John.

    Ted P.

    • Holly says:

      Ted – Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I’m honored that you can use my blog in your Leadership class. And it’s wonderful that you give so generously of your time to volunteer and teach.

      Best to you and Ann! Holly

  • Holly, I just finished listening to Loral Langemeier say in the audio edition of her book “Yes! Energy” say (paraphrasing), “If you have no time, then you have no team.” I love that! It’s a great reminder to all of us to delegate, delegate, delegate.

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