For many, the idea of an eight-hour work day or leaving the office at 5:00pm on-the-dot is nothing more than a pipe dream. You dispensed with the notion of 40-hour weeks long ago and have never looked back. Would it surprise you to learn Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, makes it a point to leave work by 5:30pm everyday in order to have dinner with her family?

If Sheryl Sandberg is leaving work on time, what are the rest of us doing wrong?


The thing about Sheryl Sandberg’s job is that she’s never going to get to the end of her to-do list. Chances are, your job is the same way. When you cross one item off your list, two more tasks pop up. You can let this frustrate you and your schedule, burning the midnight oil just for the sake of working your way through a to-do list. Your other option is to find a sense of freedom in knowing that you’re never going to finish it all. Once you come to grips with the fact that your work will still be waiting for you when you get back to the office in the morning, you’ll feel much more comfortable leaving when you’re supposed to.


Are you working after five because you’re not using your time during the work day wisely? Committing to leaving on time may require taking a hard look at how you’re using your time during the day. Ten minutes here and there spent chatting with coworkers or goofing off in the break room seem inconsequential until you add it all up.


We live in a culture where somewhere along the way people started equating busyness with success and importance. In order to gain control of your schedule, you first have to stop wearing “busy” as a badge of honor. Don’t misinterpret what we’re saying – work ethic is absolutely indispensable when it comes to climbing the ladder. However, staying busy just for the sake of appearances does nothing but leave you run down. When we commit to normal, healthy working hours, we do ourselves and our company a favor by getting the rest we need to be at our best.


Just like any habit you’re trying to change, you have to be intentional about doing so. Whether that means setting a calendar reminder or having someone hold you accountable, find a way to make it work. No one has you chained to your desk except you. You’re the only one responsible for your daily schedule. Learn to operate your day like you own it.

Time management is a multi-layered problem that modern professionals must learn to juggle in order to be at their best. Sticking to working hours is part of that important foundation. For more tips on leaving work on time, click here or here.