6 ways social entrepreneurs can leave the office early (no, really!)

Anyone who has run their own business will tell you how hard it is to switch off and finish the day on time.

In fact, they’ll probably tell you they never really finish at all. During meal times at home and periods of ‘relaxation’, an entrepreneur’s mind continues to wander.

Have I prepared properly for that meeting tomorrow?

Why hasn’t Sarah replied to my email about the accounts issue?

We’ve got to tackle that new market segment – there’s a huge gap no one’s exploiting…

If you’ve just started your own social enterprise, thoughts like those above will doubtless occupy your every waking moment. But, we’ve got some good news – it doesn’t have to be like this!

Here’s six tried-and-tested ways to ensure you finish ahead of time each day and get the seemingly impossible chance to leave the office early:

1. Commit to leaving on time

Who decides the time you should leave the office?

You!

If you can commit to the idea of getting out the door on time, you’re far more likely to. Ask yourself: are you shutting down your laptop at 7PM each day because you have to or because you feel obligated to? There’s a big difference.

2. Never take a meeting at 4PM (unless you absolutely have to)

We’ve all made this mistake (and it usually happens on a Friday); an important client or business partner wants to meet and suggests 4PM as the ideal time.

Only, 4PM isn’t the ideal time for you, or, to be honest, them. Meetings overrun – that’s a fact of life, and if you’re consistently taking them at the end of the day, you’ll always wind up leaving late.

Make exceptions, of course, but do so on very rare occasions.

3. Be careful with flexible working rules

Flexible working is fast becoming the standard method by which many employees operate, and when implemented correctly, it’s a fantastic productivity enhancer.

Unfortunately, if you’re the one in charge, ‘flexible’ working can all too easily be mistaken for ‘increased’ working, as you swap a regular 9-5 pattern for hours that are unsociable, long and extremely troublesome for your health.

Depending on the industry within which your social enterprise operates, flexible working is a brilliant way to get more out of the team – just make sure you play by the same rules as them!

4. Make leaving a routine

Each day, make preparations to leave when the clock starts to approach that magical home time.

Organise your desk, assess your to-do list for tomorrow and gather the stuff you need to take home with you. The more of a routine you can make of leaving the office, the more likely it is to happen on time each day.

5. Stop telling yourself (and others) that “this is the way it is” – it isn’t

You don’t have to work long hours. And – if we’re being honest – you’re not really impressing anyone by continually informing your friends and family that you didn’t clock off until gone 9pm last night.

Challenge yourself; how often are you simply catching up as opposed to forging ahead, on time, with new projects? You’ll never catch up, but if you reclaim your day and work during hours that most would consider reasonable, you’ll begin to be far more productive.

6. Don’t do it all at once

If you’re leaving the office late each night consistently, it’ll be difficult to wean yourself off that habit in one go. For that reason, you should start small by picking just one day when you say to yourself “today, I am going to leave at 5pm”.

Work on that day for a few weeks before extending it to another, and another… and so on. You’ll be surprised by how quickly it becomes routine.

Wrapping up

There’s one very important takeaway from today’s blog post: you need to reclaim your day.

It’s yours to own and, as a social entrepreneur, you’re more than capable of working in a way that befits your business and which inspires others to do the same.

What’s more, your family will love you for it.

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