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Simple steps to better work-life balance

Do you ever feel you're on a seesaw? A friend once told me that when she's at work she thinks about her family and home, and when she's at home she worries about projects at work. Her complaint is not uncommon. • Many people say that they're always seesawing up or down, never finding the right balance between work and home demands. What's worse, they complain of never having any time for themselves. Here are a few ideas my friend came up with for a more balanced lifestyle.

At home

Start the day with a few minutes for yourself. That may mean setting boundaries for your family members, like no talking to you until you've showered and dressed. It's important to have a few quiet moments to transition into your new day.

Have breakfast with family members. The old adage about breakfast being the most important meal of the day is true. Interfamily communication at breakfast can be the most important interaction of the day.

Organize chores and activities. Use a chart to keep track of who does what when. Children, especially, benefit from this type of structure and the rewards of hearing "good job" when they accomplish their tasks.

Schedule time alone with your spouse. Far too many couples find they are strangers when the children leave home.

Take time to spend with friends and relatives. Strong relationships give you support, add warmth and humor to your life, and make the tough times more bearable.

Winding down. At the end of the day, take a few minutes of quiet to clear your mind and get ready for bed. Not enough good, sound sleep can lead to health problems. And do something nice for yourself at least once a week.

At work

When you arrive, take a few quiet minutes at your desk. Look over planned meetings, calls and reports and paperwork. Prioritize tasks from "have to" to "optional." Share the workload when you can and delegate when possible.

Get out for lunch. The simple act of going to a restaurant or eating a brown bag lunch in a park can completely shift your thinking, help lower your blood pressure and make you more productive and creative when you get back to work.

Let go of what you can't control. Work as efficiently and productively as possible, but realize that few days go according to plan. Forgive yourself if you don't finish everything you set out to do. Tomorrow's another day.

Make plans for the next day. Before you leave work, make a prioritized "to do" list. It will help take the pressure off of you in the morning, help you stay organized and give you goals to meet.

Calming transitions

Unwinding drive. Use the time it takes to get to work in the morning and back home as a "reset" period. No Blackberry or cell phone. Use the commute, no matter how frustrating the drive, as time alone to enjoy yourself.

Marie Stempinski is the founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in marketing, public relations and business and career trends counseling. She also leads workshops. She can be reached at mswriter124@cs.com.

Simple steps to better work-life balance 02/07/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 7, 2010 3:30am]
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