For two weeks in a row now I have had Mondays where I instituted my Eight and Out goal: eight hours at work, then leave. It is one of the hardest things I have done.
Why so hard? Because I have built up the habit over many years of staying beyond 8 hours, of having a "flexible" plan which meant that 8.5, 9 or even 9.5 hours were become the norm. There was no real sense on rushing to everything because I had no definitive time when I was going to leave.
That changes with a set time. Suddenly everything is measured in terms of when I need to walk out the door. All time becomes cross-referenced to the hour and minute hand. One actually has to select tasks which need to be accomplished and those which will not be accomplished that day.
Has my work load decreased? Not at all - in fact, I am probably more busy than ever. But what has changed, if ephemerally, is the sense that my "job" is the all consuming area of my life. Now I am defining limits on where that consumption ends - and starting to find a place to put the extra time.
Extra time? Just in commuting alone, leaving and coming home at a different time can add 1 to 1.5 hours to my life every day. The few times this has happened I find myself almost luxuriating in the fact that it is not even 4:30 and I am already home.
Fear not about the extra time - it is already trying to find ways to be used in my life. But this time I am trying to use it strategically, to begin to advance towards a more rewarding career.
In other words, after Eight and Out I am still using that time for work - it is just that I am reallocating that time to a new boss: me.