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Friday Fun for the IT Crowd: 5 ways to find your balance

July 31, 2015
By Alyson Hayward

Stretching yourself too thin can cause fatigue, stress and poor health and also negatively affect your relationships with friends and family. Many experts say a healthy balance between your personal and professional life can have a positive impact on your work performance, productivity levels and overall job satisfaction. Yet, technology has made it increasingly difficult to draw the line between work and your personal time. With work email commonly accessible on your personal devices, it’s easy for work to spill over into your personal life. It’s important to take notice and proactively aim to strike a balance between the two.

I’d like to share a few ways I disconnect and find balance in my own professional and personal life.

1. Prioritize workloads

Make a to-do list of all your assignments, ranked in order of importance and deadline. Set realistic expectations for yourself. “What can I actually get done / what do I need to get done today, and what can wait until tomorrow, later this week and later this month?” It’s easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down when you plan too much for one day. I’ve found often things pop up unexpectedly that get in the way of my existing to-do list, so I’ve learned to be flexible and adjust my priorities as new tasks emerge.

2. Unplug at COB

Make a point to disable your work email when you leave for the day. Do not respond to emails during off hours, as this will only set a precedent that it is acceptable for you to work during off-hours. It’s important to set boundaries, or the lines between your personal and professional life could easily get blurred. For me, looking at my smartphone and seeing the number of emails increase while I’m at home certainly does tempt me to look. If you must look, at the very least, try to hold off on replying until you’re back in the office.

3. Plan for leisure and down time

If you build leisure activities into your schedule, you’re more likely to follow through with those activities. Plan to do things that help you recharge your batteries, such as hanging out with friends and family, exercising, or reading. Do not talk about work when you’re trying to relax. I find that when I’ve committed to dinner with a friend or made social plans, I manage the rest of my day according to this “deadline” to ensure I can make it on time. After all, I do hate to cancel on a friend!

4. Be mindful of the time

When you’re working, it’s important to focus with no distractions. Put your cell phone away so you’re not tempted to look at it. While eliminating distractions helps you be more efficient, it’s also important to take breaks throughout your day so you don’t burn out. Every so often, stop what you’re doing and shift gears. Take a short break for coffee or to read something unrelated to work. While breaks are an important part of your day, pay close attention to how much time you’re spending away from actual work. Too much time socializing with colleagues or surfing the Web could be the reason you’re always leaving late. I find that taking a walk on my lunch break, or eating somewhere other than my desk, helps break up my day nicely.

5. Exercise

Commit to getting some time in at the gym or doing some physical activity outside. Exercise helps increase your energy and concentration so you can be more productive in your workday, according to research. One way I commit to exercise is building it into my schedule. My coworker Susan and I hold ourselves accountable to going to a free class at our gym every Wednesday after work. I feel guilty and regretful if I decide to skip.

How do you find balance in your life? Share with us in the comments! 

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Alyson Hayward is a newbie blogger testing the waters. A native New Englander, she enjoys the beauty of four seasons but would prefer spending her time only in the warmer ones. When she’s not at work, you can find her exploring the city or daydreaming about the beach.

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