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Every once in a while we find ourselves putting in a few extra hours on big projects or to meet that tight deadline. As a rare occurrence that’s understandable, but it’s when the extra hours start to become your new normal when you have to take a step back. Maintaining a healthy work – life balance is essential to ensure we are performing at our best not only at work, but also in our personal time. It should be a priority, but sadly 94% of working professionals work more than 50 hours a week. If you’re part of that 94%, then it’s time to put a stop to it.

The first step towards achieving a healthy balance is to be open about your needs. Engage in an open dialogue with your manager about the hours you will be working and the time you are planning to leave every night. Once you’ve set these boundaries – you need to respect them. You can’t expect anybody else to respect your boundaries if you don’t. Starting to develop a healthy routine will help you get out of your previous working pattern and adhere to your new hours.

The next thing you can do is prioritise! Creating a clear schedule or check list of what you are going to work on that day can help to maximise your business output whilst making sure you finish on time. But be sure to be realistic!

There is no point setting yourself 10 hours of work for a 7 hour day. You also need to schedule in frequent breaks throughout the day and a clear lunch break to give yourself some head space. The number one mistake people make is eating lunch at their desk – steer clear of this and physically leave your office during your break. A walk in the fresh air can work wonders and also help you to focus.

Maintain a healthy balance also consists of taking a break from work to focus on your personal time. Make time for holidays or even long weekends at least once every quarter. This will give you time to wind down and recharge your batteries. Of course taking a break is pointless if you are going to be glued to your phone or laptop the whole time! You need to learn to embrace the off button. It’s a bad habit to be checking your emails at the dinner table or during family time. If you are always in work mode then you never fully switch off and this can be detrimental to your physical and mental wellbeing. Get into the habit of leaving work emails at work – be strict on not checking emails outside of your designated working hours.

And finally, don’t be afraid to say no – if you have too much on and can’t absorb any more work then you need to say so.  This isn’t about being obstructive and unhelpful it’s about having honest adult conversations. Your manager can then work with you to realign priorities and to come up with a solution. You might think that saying yes to everything will earn you brownie points but you will burn out and in the end risk over promising and under delivering.

Maintain a healthy work – life balance should be your number one priority and there is nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow!