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How’s your work-life balance?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown
So we weathered 2009 and 2010. Then we survived 2011 with a feeling that better days were ahead.  Now, four months into 2012 and with the economy rebounding (at least in Michigan), it seems like everyone you speak to is extremely busy.  So it did not surprise me when I opened my ASE Daily Alert (powered by CCH) and saw this headline: Fifty-six percent of workers say they do not have a proper work/life balance, according to survey results.

In a recent poll of over 1,000 people, 36% say they do not feel they have a proper work/life balance and that they spend too much time working. Forty-one percent said they think they may be passed over for a promotion if they leave work early. In addition, 26% said that they stay at work later than they would like due to peer pressure.

If you are still looking to figure out how to avoid the rush hour traffic on your ride home, this bit of research probably won’t make you happy: More than twice as many people leave work after five o’clock (18% between 5:00 and 6:00, 21% after 6:00) than before five o’clock (18%).

What are some things one can do to bring a little more balance to their daily routine? WebMD suggest these 5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance:

1. Build downtime into your schedule.

When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends and activities that help you recharge.  If a date night with your spouse or a softball game with friends is on your calendar, you'll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don't have to cancel.  "It helps to be proactive about scheduling," says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author of SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. "When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls' night out on the calendar for one month later," she says.

2. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

"Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value -- for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping," says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut.  Take stock of those activities and cut them out of your routine if you can.

3. Rethink your errands.

Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands. Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered?  Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn?  Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office?  Order your stamps online so you don't have to go to the post office? Even if you're on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you'll save will make it worth the cost.

4. Get moving.

Exercise. Make time for it. It will boost your energy level and your ability to concentrate.  "Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert," says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.  "And I've noticed that when I don't exercise because I'm trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don't feel as alert."

5. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.

Don't get overwhelmed by assuming that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life.  "Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you," Brooks says. "Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on a hobby, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once a year," he says.
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