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5 ways to strike a better work-life balance

Improving your work-life balance

In an age when work follows you home on your laptop, and home life can intrude on office time in email and cellphone calls, it’s hard to strike a balance between your career and the rest of your life.

And yet, according to Leslie Baker, a licensed marriage and family therapist and instructor in the counseling program  at the University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus, you can — and you must.

“Identifying your priorities and setting boundaries are imperative in creating a better work-life balance,” she says.

Here are five steps toward striking that important equilibrium:

1

Leave work at the office.

Try keeping your laptop closed — and your work phone switched off — between the time you arrive home from work and the time you go to bed. Make it clear to co-workers that you’re unavailable after, say, 6 pm and on weekends. And treat paid holidays as something other than a chance to catch up on your work.

Likewise, Baker says, don’t handle personal matters — making doctor appointments, phoning your kids’ teachers about their schoolwork — while at the office.

2

Minimize the wasteful stuff.

Pinpoint activities that enhance your professional or private life, and keep those on your schedule. Lunching twice a week with a colleague who only wants to complain about your team leader is probably a waste of your time.

Spending hours cruising social media and auction sites might be a waste, too. Baker suggests setting aside a specific, short time to wander the web, and sticking to it.

3

Eat right, sleep well and get moving.

You can’t find balance anywhere without good health. Make time to pack a healthy lunch, or frequent places near the office that offer wholesome choices. Get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

And make exercise a priority, no matter how busy your schedule. Baker says that even a little physical activity each day will boost your energy level and your ability to stay focused.

4

Outsource your errands.

Know your strengths, Baker says, and lean on others to do what you can’t or don’t have time for. Order postage stamps and groceries online. Send out dry cleaning — and laundry that requires ironing — to a place that will pick up and deliver. And consider hiring a housekeeper.

5

Schedule play dates.

Set aside a daily or weekly time to spend with family and friends, doing something that’s far from your workaday world. A movie date with your spouse not only provides a respite, Baker points out, but also gives you something to look forward to. An upcoming lunch with a friend can act as an incentive for you to stay on task, in order to keep that date.

Finally, plan an annual trip with family or friends, and use every minute of your paid vacation. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve it.

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