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In a world where technology is so prevalent, working a 9 to 5 job can become hard to maintain. With access to work at your fingertips you put yourself in a role that means working an “always on” job without even realizing it. When you are always available you face the challenge of following a healthy work-life balance because instead of dividing your time evenly between the two, you give all your attention to work only.

Another factor that causes an unhealthy work-life balance is the fear of job loss, which can make you feel the need to work longer hours. Harvard Business School found that 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for your mental and physical health. Focusing on things other than work such as family, friends and extracurricular activities not only keeps you active but keeps you sane as well. Too much stress and focus on a never-ending work day can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness.

Here are 5 tips to help you get on track to maintaining a healthy work-life balance:

  1. Add downtime into your schedule

When you are planning your week, add in time for friends, family and activities that allow you to relax, enjoy yourself and recharge before the next work day. If you don’t schedule out down time your free time will likely get filled with whatever you feel like needs to be done in that moment, such as things like work or catching up on emails. Making sure you have scheduled downtime will help you remember to actually take some time for yourself.

  1. Take a break

You may not be able to take a break every day, depending on how busy your day is. However, you should at least take thirty minutes to an hour for lunch each day. Taking a lunch that forces you to focus on something other than work, reboot and come back full and ready to work again. It also gives you the “break” you need each day. Make sure when taking your lunch break you are getting away from your desk. Even if you brought lunch from home eat in the break room or even go outside if the weather is nice.

  1. Unplug

Technology has probably helped your life in several ways from working, to communicating and especially accessibility. The problem is that the work day never seems to end. If you have a hard time putting your phone down and focusing on things other than work when you’re supposed to be off, then consider unplugging. A lot of work problems that come up after work hours can’t be solved until the next day anyway. So instead of stressing about them all night, turn your phone/computer off and deal with it the next day.

Schedule weekend plans and vacations

Believe it or not, you company wants you to use your PTO. That’s why they give it to you because they understand that everyone needs a break sometimes. Often times, companies have a “use it or lose it” policy associated with PTO too, so why wouldn’t you use your days? There is also a reason you’re given days off. Even if you don’t have weekends off per say, you do have days off that you consider your weekend. Plan something for at least a few hours on your day off to get you out of your normal weekday routine.

  1. Make time for family

Your relationships with your family and friends are the best source of happiness. If you become a workaholic and allow it to damage your personal relationships, you will not be happy in your work or home life. Some days you will have to work overtime and that’s understandable, you just want to avoid letting it become an everyday thing that will ultimately cause you to be unhappy. Making personal relationships a priority will actually improve your productivity and efficiency will at work.

Bottom line, start small and build from there. Don’t try to change every bad habit all in one day, it won’t work. Pick one thing to start with, work on it until you’re where you want to be and then move onto something else. Small successes, less stress and a happier mentality will encourage you to keep improving.

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