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In the blissful days before smart phones and laptops, the boundaries between one’s work and life were pretty clear: At the end of your workday, you’d leave your desk, and your work miraculously stayed there until your return the next day. What a concept! Today, we’re digitally accessible nearly every waking minute. And, while we can all admit that it’s cool to be able to instantly identify the ’90s one-hit wonder who sang "Informer," it’s not quite as appealing to get a text from your boss at 8:50 p.m. with just "one more teeny thing" to add to tomorrow’s Keynote. SIGH.
OVERTIME OVERKILL. When we let our personal and professional lives get out of balance, the harmful effects are both instantaneous and cumulative. When you’re constantly operating at burnout intensity, not only is your daytime performance eventually likely to suffer—you’re also likely to take out your frustrations on your family when you get home. Stress-eating may creep in to your daily routine, leaving you with feelings of guilt and a sour stomach. And those extra hours you’ve been putting in? They may be setting expectations with higher-ups that you’re the 60-hours-a-week type… a very slippery slope indeed. Fortunately, a successful work-life balance IS within your reach—it just takes a little bit of boundary-setting (and enforcing). Here are our top three tips to keep your daily to-do list from encroaching on your little corner of happy.
1. JUST SAY NO. We get it… easier said than done! But learning to tactfully demur when your plate is full—whether you’re being asked to help a harried coworker get a last-minute report done or make costumes for the upcoming school play—may be the single healthiest skill you can master. Once guilt and obligation leave the stage, you’ll be able to give top billing to activities that fulfill you rather than leave you feeling tired and empty.
2. TURN OFF THE TECH. If you work from home or are required to bring a laptop or work-phone home with you at night, here’s a neat trick to try: Turn it off. Identify a block of hours every evening (6–9 pm is ideal) to enforce a "Tech Timeout"—a time during which you’re NOT available to your boss or any other outside distractions, but you ARE available to your family. If you’re the 24/7 type, this may be difficult at first. But once you’ve got the hang of it, everyone in the house will come to treasure this time.
3. TAKE TIME FOR YOU. We really can’t say it enough: You deserve a break, today and every day! Whatever that looks like for you… whether you’re nurtured by a brisk morning walk, a lunchtime yoga class, an afternoon phone chat with a faraway friend, or a visit to your favorite boutique on the way home, consider this your license to chill. Get over the guilt of asking hubby to stay with the kids or making the dog wait a bit longer for her walk—a happier YOU will ensure a happier household for all.