Book review – 'How to do a great job and go home on time'

As the long-hours culture continues to spread, books with titles such as this are hard to resist. Could investing some time in reading one pay off? If you were to do some of what’s suggested in this book you could, as the cliché goes, be spending a lot more time with your family.

However, I suspect that the more outrageous anecdotes and suggestions are there to amuse and stimulate thinking rather than be copied. Managing e-mail addiction by checking your inbox once a month or deleting the lot, telling your boss to take a long walk on a short pier, leaving meetings after you’ve done your bit and putting up a sign which says your lack of planning is not my emergency might help you get home on time, but would not be perceived by most as evidence of doing a good job.

But I’ve chosen the extremes here. Much of the content of this book is solid, good advice that will help you to use your time more effectively. The underlying message is that if you are overloaded, the blame lies not with your boss, the organisation, or the 21st century, but with you. If you accept that premise then it follows that you can change things. If this thought has never occurred to you, and you have come to accept long hours as inevitable, then this book could be the catalyst you need.

Each chapter starts with a short questionnaire that helps you analyse your behaviour in relation to managing your time, other peoples’ expectations, guilt, and approval seeking. Bulleted and numbered lists, short paragraphs, and targeted exercises then take you through options for making things better. The tone is chatty but firm and the language informal, even colloquial. It is a relatively easy read but not designed to be dipped in and out of. If you are to do this properly you should work through it sequentially over time, with pauses for evaluation along the way.

Reading the last chapter first may help you decide if it would be worth the effort. Chapter 13 describes the person this book will help you become: ‘One of the traits that’s almost always noted about people who do a great job and go home on time is how they are regarded by those around them… they tell it like it is. Not for them to be told ‘we have to do this’, ‘we have no choice’… By and large they are content with things at work. They realise they are not victims at work… If the powers that be don’t or won’t play ball, then our hero will find some place where they will.’ Could this be you?

Irene Krechowiecka is a career coach and journalist 

"I suspect that the more outrageous anecdotes and suggestions are there to amuse and stimulate thinking rather than be copied"