Good habits for creating a balance between life and work

Do you find that work has a tendency to take over more and more of your free time? If so, you are definitely not alone. However, developing a number of good habits will help you to create a more balanced lifestyle.

Habit 1: Let your values govern your decisions

How aware are you of what is most important to you, and how do you assign priorities when conflicts of interest arise? Would you be able to indicate your five most important priorities if someone asked you to? If you haven't clarified these values for yourself, you run the risk of easily getting into situations where you feel out of balance because you spend too much time on things you don't value highly.

Habit 2: Save time for recreation, reflection and planning

Many people who are under stress feel that everyday life is practically devouring them and that they don't have enough time for reflection. The best way to ensure the latter is to allocate time in your diary. Many people have found it best to have a fixed time every week devoted entirely to planning and reflection.

Habit 3: Work to a weekly plan

Something that will definitely help you on the way towards personal balance is to start actively working to some form of weekly plan. For many people it proves to be a revolutionary experience to note down the most important priorities for the coming week - this can apply to free time and work activities.

Habit 4: Say no

Many people think that it is always negative to say no, but the reverse can be true. If you consistently say no to what is not in line with what you want to achieve, you will be perceived as being focused. Others will think that you know what you want and that you are honest. If you say yes to something that you don't have time for, there is a big risk that you will do it carelessly or that you won't be able to manage it at all.

Checklist to draw the line between home and work

It's fairly obvious that working at home can play a part in increasing your stress levels. To make working at home as smooth as possible you can: Sort your work into 'can', 'should' and 'must' files. When you have done this, go through the 'must' file to see if you can move anything over to the other files. After this you need only take the 'must' file home with you.

Set aside a certain time at home for your work, and keep to it. Otherwise, the work will take up more and more of your time and awareness. Check that your family is ready to listen to you before you start discussing work with them. You might unconsciously start discussing it when they are not interested and then you won't get their full attention.

Resist the temptation to check your e-mail or voicemail when you're at home. This is another factor that blurs the line between work and free time. Make sure you have an interest or hobby that is completely unrelated to your work. Without a personal interest it's easy to say to yourself: 'I've nothing else better to do, so I might as well do a little work today'.