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How to strike a work/life balance

We are all encouraged to work harder, but how can you find a balance between your work and your life?

Man on hammock working

With businesses trying to do more with less resources, the work/life balance of the modern worker is becoming increasingly challenging.

Tight deadlines, international business dealings, and the ability to work from pretty much anywhere - thanks to smartphones and mobile broadband - at anytime, has resulted in people feeling like they are more 'on the clock' than off it when it comes to treading the line between chasing results at work and getting some downtime at home.

Some people might thrive in such a situation, but others could struggle, especially if they have an equally demanding family life. As such, those who fail to get the balance right can end up running themselves down and getting increasingly stressed, tired and even ill.

This is particularly true of people who work as freelancers, contractors or who are part of a startup trying to make it big, as often the normal checks and balances of working hours and culture tend to be eschewed in favour of chasing lofty goals and, in some cases, simply making ends meet.

So to remain a productive worker without burning out it is ever-more important to strike a healthy work/life balance. These following tips can set you on the right path to achieving that day-to-day nirvana.

Keep track of time

You may not realise the number of hours you put into work, so keeping a time log of everything you do for one week, including work-related and personal activities, is helpful. This should help in understanding just how your time is used and abused.

 Define priorities

When it comes to the private and personal, you need to think about what is more important. List the top priorities at home and work. Look at how you spend your time, then questions what you need to do more of or less of, as well as what things you need to start doing as well as the things you need to stop. Also look at what can be done differently.

 Schedule your objectives

Once you have your priorities in order, you need to transform them into tangible and quantifiable objectives. Use a calendar to schedule activities as you would for business meetings or appointments.

Plan carefully

To achieve a work/life balance, you must plan carefully and stick to the plan. One calendar should be used for both work and life as you can't do two things at once; this schedule is how you turn objectives into reality. You also need to set aside time each day to plan activities and tasks for the following day.

Create limits

You can't do everything you want if you want to have a less stressful life. Setting boundaries and communicating these to managers, colleagues, and family is necessary. You might not want to work late on some days unless there is an emergency. You also need to find time at home to put the laptop and smartphone away to avoid the temptation to check emails and social media.

Be good to yourself and your health

Without good mental, physical and emotional health your work and personal life will be suffer. Make sure you eat nutritious meals and schedule time for exercise three times a week. Also, getting a good night's sleep is important too. Following this will decrease stress, boost energy levels and make you a more productive person.

Make time for yourself

Work, relationships and health are important but you will also need to make time for yourself. This could be going for a walk or learning new skills unrelated to work. A half-hour of doing something else can work wonders for your welfare.

What goes on at work, stays at work

It is important to delineate what is work and what is home. Scheduling activities such as exercising straight after work can help in preventing the temptation to spend another few minutes on sending that important work email.

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