I was talking with a friend the other night about their number one concern with their new job, in that they expect to have to work until 11PM every night and would therefore give up yoga, movies and dating. I almost dropped my drink (which is a horrifying thought for an Aussie).
WTF! NO! Go Home! You work to live, not live to work.
I was that person, the one who worked all hours. During the 1990’s I worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week, for the whole decade. As a result, I was sickly, pale, miserable, lonely and not financially better off. In the noughts, I went home before 6PM every day, got healthy, got a social life, got married, crossed the planet, made an amazing career for myself and had an incredible amount of fun. All because I went home.
My mate is right, by working late she will be missing out on life, health, friends, love, and things that give her joy. She’ll become a monochromatic one-dimensional person, all work, with nothing else to talk about, no-one to talk to, a boring lonely soul.
On a professional level, working late is just as bad. Your productivity and work quality drops because you are tired all the time. Your relationships with colleagues deteriorate because you are in a bad mood all the time because they have fun stuff happening and you don’t. And because you are the one around, people give you more work to do so they can go home when you cannot even complete your current workload. You become the office hammer, a tool to be used, abused and discarded.
And you don’t get any thinking time. One of the best things about going home and doing other things is that it clears your mind and sets your subconscious free to muddle through work problems at its own pace. The best solutions to work problems I have come up with have all happened away from the desk. If you are struggling with something, go home, hang out, jog, watch a movie, and tackle it tomorrow with a fresh mind. That’s right, going home makes you better at work. Try it!
You don’t make money from spending time at your desk, or having “face time” with your colleagues. You don’t get promoted because of the hours you work, but because of the work you do and the kind of person you are.
You do become happier when surrounded by friends, you do become healthier when exercising, you do become a more well-rounded person when you take the time to practice hobbies, you do become more interesting when you have the time to follow your interests. You can only be a better parent of you see your kids, a better friend if you have “face time” with actual friends, a better spouse if you actually eat dinner together. That’s not going to happen if you are sitting at your desk.
So, set the precedent now and go home. If you stay late, people will expect you to stay late. If you leave at a regular time and have a life, your colleagues will expect that of you too. As long as you get your work done, go home!