At Work

10 Ways to Balance Work and Life

Amanda Page Jan 4th, 2013 (updated Mar 22nd, 2014)
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Make a resolution this year to not let work consume your life. While work dedication is an essential ingredient to accomplishment, such dedication can also lead to burnout, anxiety and even depression. Here are ten ways to reclaim your life and achieve success in both areas.

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Schedule with boundaries
Schedule with boundaries

Restrict your schedule to reasonable expectations, and work towards establishing boundaries. Distinguish personal life from career. Try setting a work cut-off time during the week, and be completely away from the office on Sundays. Make sure these boundaries never overlap. Another practice is to close the laptop and switch off the cell phone in the presence of family.  

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Find other things to socialize about
Find other things to socialize about

When visiting with friends and family, talk about things other than work. This will not only let people know that you have other things going on in your life, but it will give your mind a break from the constant focus on work. It’s important to remember that your work isn’t everything that you are; rather, it’s one piece out of the many that make up your identity.  

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Delegate
Delegate

Try delegating menial tasks so you can focus your attention on the crucial details. At work, you might consider hiring an assistant or an intern, or sharing clients with coworkers. At home, make sure you and your spouse are working as a team on household duties. Divvy up tasks and include this in your weekly schedule so it’s not forgotten. The kids can also help you prepare dinner or tidy up around the house.

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Don't underestimate sleep
Don't underestimate sleep

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, chances are you aren’t functioning at your best. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, over two-thirds of women associate lack of sleep with stress. Yet, when polled about which activity they would cut first from their schedules, sleep was the number one answer. Set a firm bedtime and wake-time. You will feel and see the results in your daily life.

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Consider fitness a priority
Consider fitness a priority

Your priority list likely ranks family first and career right behind, but if possible, squeeze personal health between them. Sleep, diet, and exercise form the foundation for a healthy body and mind, and if these activities are neglected, then your family life and career may suffer as a result. Make sure you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, balanced nutrition, and 30 minutes of daily exercise.

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Accept that things won't always be perfect
Accept that things won't always be perfect

Sometimes getting everything done is better than getting a select few things done perfectly. Accept that not everything you take on in a day is going to be perfect. If meeting the needs of the family and your health mean something at work needs to be a little less than perfect, then so be it.  

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Take out the trash
Take out the trash

Eliminate people and things that are holding you back from reaching your full potential. What’s holding you back? Expensive taste? Clutter? Negative people? Ask yourself what you would lose by eliminating the baggage and what you would gain. Will this add stress or remedy it?  Freeing yourself from distractions and negativity will free up time to focus on what’s truly important.  

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Power down early
Power down early

Turn off the TV and put the phone away. Studies have shown that exposure to artificial light emitted by gadgets within 30 minutes of bedtime leads to sleep disorders and depression. Add this to reasons to keep work at work and spend your personal time focused on your family and yourself. Getting sleep is difficult enough without confusing your circadian rhythms with false light.  

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Keep a journal
Keep a journal

Now that you’ve eliminated looking at your Facebook feed before bed, consider starting a journal. Jotting down the events of the day and how they made you feel will help you stay focused on what is truly important in your life. If this doesn’t appeal to you, consider meditation or reading a book. Both of these activities can help your mind power down and eliminate unnecessary “noise."  

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Just say no
Just say no

This simple phrase can make all the difference in both work and personal life. If you are feeling stretched too thin, admit it and turn things down. Performing poorly because you are stressed will reflect more negatively on you than turning things down in order to do your best on the task at hand. Always do this graciously, being mindful of the interests and priorities of your employer.