Staying back late may be the cultural norm at your workplace, but if you are doing your job well, don’t feel guilty for not doing what everyone else is doing.

This discussion was the subject of a recent blog by Ashley Lutz, senior editor at Australian Business Insider, and is extremely pertinent to our working carers.

Why? Because they are the ones who really need to get out the door on time every day and they don’t need any guilt trip from managers or workmates for clocking off on the dot.

Ashley writes that she once had a mentor tell her that life is like tending to four dishes on the stove, and you can only really pay attention to two at a time.

When you’re ‘aceing’ it at work and meeting all your family and caring obligations, your social life suffers and your time to do things for yourself and to sleep evaporates.

When you’re leaving work early to go home to help a loved one, or to go to the gym, you fear you’ll be passed over for the next promotion, or that people are gossiping about you behind your back, or judging you negatively.

Ashley writes that finding the perfect balance is impossible, but achieving peace of mind is not.

Obviously, you don’t want to leave your co-workers in the lurch in the middle of an important deadline. But if you are getting your work done and feedback from your manager is positive, feel satisfied that you are doing a good job and drop the guilt about leaving on time.

And remember, in previous Work ‘n’ Care issues we have written about Nordic countries where employees who work long hours are viewed as inefficient.

Ashely has this to say about any guilt you may be feeling about leaving work on time every day: “The good news is the guilt you’re feeling is probably unwarranted.

“Modern companies seem to be growing out of assessing people based solely on ‘face time’ and endless hours unnecessarily spent in the office in order to appear more productive.

“I polled senior managers at Business Insider to see how they felt about ‘face time.’

“Everyone I spoke to said they focus on the quality and quantity of work rather than whether the employee stays at their desk outside of business hours.

“Everyone is entitled to his or her own priorities. How can you spend your time so you are the maximum level of happy?

“You know that leaving for the gym is something you need to stay centred and sustain productivity. It’s better for you to prioritise what will sustain you in the long run so you don’t burn out.

“Your manager has communicated you’re doing a good job, so you likely don’t need to worry about it. Even so, it may be worth following up with him or her to discuss expectations and ease your mind. Getting reassurance from above might make you feel better.

“If your boss conveys that staying late is part of the culture, maybe it’s time to search for a company that will judge you on your impact and accomplishments rather than just ‘being there.’

“As for guilt, I doubt your co-workers are silently judging you. It’s more likely their brains are occupied with pressing deadlines, family drama, and what to eat for dinner.

“In the words of David Foster Wallace, ‘we’d care less what people think of us if we realised how little they actually do. Set your priorities confidently, and you will go far.’”

Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider, answering questions about the workplace.

Some curly topics she has dealt with include: When your nosy co-worker is driving you insane; What to do when co-workers won’t stop complaining about the boss; What to do when none of your co-workers will talk to you; My co-workers perfume is making me sick; Lazy co-workers; What to do when the boss is taking credit for all your work.

You can read her thoughts on these topics here: