by Meridith Levinson

3 Simple Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance (and Reducing Stress)

Jan 25, 2010

Already broken your New Year's resolution about work-life balance? These simple tips will get you back on track.

So, how are your work-life balance New Year’s Resolutions going? If you’ve already broken them, I have three simple but effective tips for getting back on track, courtesy of Peter Handal, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training

Handal says Mr. Carnegie was a proponent of compartmentalizing one’s life, and while modern technology has made separating one’s personal life from one’s professional life increasingly difficult, achieving some compartmentalization and work-life balance is vital to our health and happiness, argues Handal.

“While technology has changed, the human body hasn’t,” he says. “You’re going to destroy yourself if you don’t have work-life balance.”

True, the toll stress takes on our health has been proven over and over. 

Here are three of Handal’s suggestions for maintaining some semblance of work-life balance.

1. Plan to unplug. Your time is precious, and since 50 to 60 hours of it each week tends to be dedicated to work, you need to be sure you’re allocating whatever spare time you have left when you’re not sleeping to something enjoyable. Mark the dates and times on your calendar when you’re going to shut off your computer and your smartphone so that you can do something that gets your mind off work. Planning your downtime makes it easier to stick to. (See Smartphones: Corporate Shackles or Tool for Work Life Balance?)

2. Exercise. Exercise is a sure-fire way to get your mind off of work. “If you’re on a treadmill, it’s hard to talk on the phone or to text,” says Handal, who recommends engaging in activities that make it hard to work simultaneously. (See Five Easy Tips for CIO Fitness and Health Hazards for IT Workers.)

You can further divert your mind from work while exercising by listening to music, tracking your heart rate on a monitor or by focusing on your surroundings (if you’re out walking or hiking, for example) and how your body is reacting to the exercise. Feeling like you’re going to have a coronary from a workout will certainly get your mind off work.

If you equate jogging or other rigorous forms exercise with torture, schedule tee time, play golf (or tennis or bowling or boxing) on a Wii, shoot some hoops with a friend or toss a football with your kids. Exercise is a fantastic stress-reliever and known source of longevity.

3. Go where cell phones aren’t allowed. You can’t answer phone calls, respond to e-mails or send text messages when you’re in venues where phones need to be shut off, such as theaters, houses of worship and meditation centers.

For more work life balance strategies, see Five Sensible Tips for Achieving Work Life Balance and this Q&A with leadership consultant and psychologist Henry Cloud.

One more thing about stress and work:

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy