I caught myself doing it this afternoon. I’ve counseled others not to do it. I know the wisdom of not doing, but I caught myself doing again. I’m referring to working late. We’ve all been there. It just didn’t seem that there were enough hours during the day to get the vital tasks done, so we work a little late. Tonight it was an hour, other nights have been 2 – 3 hours.
It starts out innocently enough; a crisis happens that pulls us from our priorities and we have to make time up after work. Before we know it, we begin to stay after hours more and more. Pretty soon, out of sheer habit, it becomes part of our regular routine. We begin to count on those extra hours. As a result, the hours earlier in the day begin to lose their importance because, after all, we can always catch up after work, so we don’t hustle — we don’t feel that sense of urgency that drives us forward.
The cure for this is simple. Stop working late and put that sense of urgency back to the early hours of the day where it belongs. Jim Citrin, best selling author and careers expert, surveyed 20 CEOs and found that they placed extreme importance , not on the hours at the end of the day, but upon those at the start.
This is the part of your morning routine over which you have the greatest control. To fit it all in, it's a must to start early. The latest any of the surveyed executives wake up is 6 a.m., and almost 80 percent wake up at 5:30 or earlier.
Some used those early hours for self-development. Others used them to get an early start on the business day. Still others found that quality family time was best found in the morning. Whatever the CEOs’ priority, the morning was the time to work on it.
Shift the importance back into the early hours of the day and go home on time — Today! Once you have a hard deadline where all items must be complete (say, quitting time?), it’s amazing how many of those pending tasks can find closure.