The title of this article refers to this recent article that has made quite a splash about the CEO of Facebook saying that she manages to leave at 5:30 everyday since she started her family. While she initially put in the extra hours at the beginning of the day, she now works regular hours.
As great as this is, this article from Fast Company offers a rejoinder with three suggestions to reclaim a more regular workday even if it isn’t possible to work 9-5. The short list:
1) Analyze how you spend your time – they suggest using software such as “rescue time.” I first heard about this software from Nora Young who hosts one of my favourite CBC programs, Spark, who used this software to write her latest book, The Virtual Self. Basically the software gives you an analytic of how you spend your time on your computer. Nora Young has described using the software as an “exercise in humiliation.” Still, analyzing your time can give you valuable insight – both things that are time suckers and also the things you believe are hugely time consuming but don’t clock in at a lot of time. I once worked at a place which did a desk audit of our work and our personal estimates of the amount of time we spent doing “intake” a particularly detested task, were actually way larger than the actual time spent.
2) Take short breaks – it’ll re-energize you. They also suggest shutting off your blackberry/cellphone for certain periods each night on a regular basis. Our former deputy minister proposed a blackberry blackout between 7pm and 7am and this made quite a splash though I can’t say that there is any evidence now that this blackout ever existed. That having been said, I do try to make a decision about responding to emails at night or on the weekend that could wait for response until working hours.
3) Take small steps – they suggest taking a day to work at home. Though this won’t be possible in many work environments, there will always be small things we can do to improve the balance. For instance, I loved this article by Dan Pink on starting a “To Don’t list.” On his list, no coffee in the afternoon and not answering email during prime writing time. And, from a recent post, listing your top few priorities for the day to make sure you focus on a few key things each day and don’t get blown off course but the mounds of email or overwhelmed by the length of your full “to do list”.