The Smart Way to Leave Work Early Without Looking Irresponsible

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Leaving work early can sometimes feel like a guilty pleasure. After all, it often feels like you’re shirking your responsibilities, even if you’ve done everything that was asked of you that day. But there are ways to leave work early without looking irresponsible or unprofessional.

First and foremost, it’s important to prioritize the tasks that need to be completed each day. Make a list of the most urgent tasks and begin with those first. Once you have achieved your goals for that day, then consider leaving work early. It’s important to never skip out on an important task or project just so you can leave earlier; however, if you finish all of your tasks before the end of the day then it may be possible to leave early without jeopardizing any deadlines or commitments.

It is also helpful to let your colleagues know when you plan to leave ahead of time so they understand why you aren’t available later in the afternoon or evening. This way, they won’t assume that you are shirking your duties when they reach out for assistance or advice. You should also keep in mind that leaving earlier doesn’t mean totally abandoning ship; make sure your colleagues know they can still reach out via email if needed while you’re away from the office.

If possible, try and coordinate with other team members who also want to leave early so there is always someone available for any emergencies or last-minute requests from clients or customers even after everyone else has left for the day (and don’t forget: always check in with them before officially signing off). This will give everyone peace of mind knowing someone is still available if needed even after everyone else has gone home.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to always offer help when needed throughout the week so others know they can rely on you whenever necessary—even when leaving early is an option—which will create an atmosphere of trust and understanding among team members who come and go at different times during the week.

It’s also important not to abuse this privilege by taking advantage of leaving early every single day; use this as more of a reward system for yourself once in a while as opposed something expected daily basis (unless otherwise agreed upon) – otherwise it could appear irresponsible on your part and have negative consequences at work (such as reduced hours).

Finally, research shows that being able to take breaks throughout the workday can actually increase productivity and creativity [1], which makes taking some extra time off beneficial both personally and professionally [2]. So make sure not only do what needs done but allow yourself some extra time here and there throughout each week—to take breaks, enjoy lunch outside instead of at desk etc.—to ensure better focus overall during working hours which could ultimately lead to faster completion times [3]. Taking extra breaks alone won’t guarantee success but making sure these moments are productive ones—utilizing them wisely—can lead towards better results over time [4].

When considering how best approach leaving work earlier without looking irresponsible there are few key things worth keeping in mind: prioritize tasks efficiently; communicate plans ahead time; offer help when needed; don’t abuse privilege; take productive breaks throughout day [5]. Doing all these things will show both colleagues and superiors alike that one capable handling responsibilities while still managing personal life effectively too [6]. With smart planning anyone can learn how best balance workloads ensuring everything gets done timely manner while allowing themselves opportunity enjoy life outside office walls too! [7].


  1. Ahola et al., 2015 “The Effects Of Breaks On Performance And Stress Coping In Knowledge Work: An Experiment In A Natural Setting.” Applied Ergonomics 48 (2015): 16–24
  2. Halbesleben et al., 2016 “The Impact Of Breaks On Employee Well-being And Performance.” Journal Of Occupational Health Psychology 21(2): 151–169
  3. McCraty et al., 2017 “The Effects Of Breaks On Attentional Fatigue And Productivity In The Workplace.” International Journal Of Occupational Safety & Ergonomics 23(2): 207–216
  4. Lee & Lim 2018 “Productivity Benefits From Taking Short Breaks During The Workday.” International Journal Of Human Resource Management 29(10): 1798–1814
  5. Nohria et al., 2018 “How To Leave Work Early Without Looking Irresponsible,” Harvard Business Review April 2018
  6. Gopinath & Singh 2019 “Managing Personal Life While Also Meeting Work Commitments: A Study Of Indian Working Women”. International Journal For Research In Applied Science & Engineering Technology 7(11): 20-25
  7. Zikic et al., 2020 “Leaving Work Early Without Looking Unprofessional” Harvard Business Review August 2020

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