I've discovered that I have a brief window in my day where I might make for the door and get the hell out. Unfortunately, it is never the right time to leave the office, but rather mid-afternoon, 3:30ish. This brief window usually does NOT occur when my work is done, but rather when my patience is short and I find I'm more likely to be seeking a vending machine break, a blogging distraction, or some other nonsense.
When my mind re-engages, usually after a very short time, I find the next time I look up is about 7PM. Hubby usually calls around 6-ish and we talk about dinner menu and timing, evening errands, tasks, and plans. But then that inability to master the graceful exit rears it's head again. No matter what time I say I'm leaving, I'm nearly always off by 30-60 minutes...or more! Just one more task, just one more email, just one more list update...and on and on.
After several of these occasions, Hubby gave up taking me at my word (and I gave up giving it) and requested I call at the point where I am shutting off my computer and packing up. Then, after a few occasions where I ended up chatting with another late working colleague on my way out (usually Boss Lady), we now have a standing agreement that I call as I'm getting into my car.
I've tried the Franklin Covey approach. Have you ever taken one of their time management classes? They start with the whole jar with rocks story - you know the one.
"A teacher has a jar and he fills it with large rocks. He asks his students, can I get anything more in this jar? The answer from his students - No! He then takes out a bag of pebbles and adds them to the jar, proving them wrong. He asks his students again, can I get anything more into this jar? The answer from his students - Definitely not! He then takes out a bag of sand and pours it into the jar. Again, he asks, can I get anything else in this jar? The answer from his students - Not possible for sure! He then takes out a pitcher of water and pours it into the jar. What is the lesson here?"
My answer to that little parable was - "You can always fit more in the jar!"
Obvious right? I'm so brilliant, right?
No, the real answer is, the big rocks represent the important things. And if you don't put them in FIRST you'll never get the important things done"
I missed that.
So anyway, sometimes after my 3:30 break, there's still those big rocks (and some pebbles, sand and water) to deal with....but somehow, someday, some way I'll figure out how to master the graceful exit.