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Diane Randall
Certified Wellness Coach & Self Care Expert, Speaker and Author

She speaks and writes on a variety of wellness and self care topics related to women.

"Whether it is about work life balance, health or lifestyle changes, my favorite wellness coaching conversations have to do with transition. It's exciting to see what happens when we take calculated risks in order to realize our true goals.”

Technology and Finding Work Life Balance

Has your Blackberry put you on call 24/7? No doubt you've learned to use the tools that today's technology offers you. Tools that if used with caution can help bring more balance to your work-home life.

Chances are that somewhere along the way you've lost the balance between your professional and your personal life. Many people today have found that the line between work and home has become blurred; and oddly enough, those same tools that have propelled them to success are typically to blame. Technological devices can provide us a great degree of freedom, convenience, and flexibility in our lives; however, these devices have also driven many to distraction. They have changed the parameters of the workplace and extended the workday. We can -- and often do -- work from anywhere and connect at any time.

If this sounds like your life, not to worry, you can learn to use technology and not let it use you, and gain a happier and more balanced personal life. The techniques to do this involve scheduling and committing to time off work, getting a technology makeover, traveling less for business, working from home, and actually relaxing while on vacation.

Schedule and Commit to Time Off

It's important for you to set limits on when and how to disengage in order to maintain a work-home life balance. When you are off from work, turn off the connection to the work place. Screen your phone calls and emails, only responding to those that need an immediate response.

Instead of using wireless devices to arrange meetings and business appointments, you should use them to schedule some free time. Consciously plan time away from work with PDA's and laptops turned off--Proactively plan vacations and days off by blocking out dates on your calendars and set alerts and reminders on your electronic calendar to preempt upcoming days away from work. Protect and hold steadfast to your plans for taking days off work by not changing them simply because someone asks something of you for that day.

Get a Technology Makeover

Laptops, PDAs, cell phones, and other electronic gadgets have created an "on-call" work mentality that all too often takes priority over personal time. These devices keep people tied to work 24/7, creating an addiction humorously referred to as the "Crack Berry Syndrome." A "crack berry addict" is a person who spends far too much time checking and returning emails or text messages and doing so while in meetings, in bed, at the dinner table, in the bathroom, at their kids' baseball games, etc. Their Blackberry or other PDA is no longer a convenience, it's an addiction.

Have your high-tech tools turned into a leash that keeps you bound to your job? If so, consider this an intervention! Use these tips to "detoxify":

1. Receive and check emails on one electronic device only.

2. Don't take work or your laptop home after hours.

3. Don't answer phone calls or check messages after work hours.

4. Set realistic expectations for your workday.

5. Stop returning phone calls while driving your car.

6. Never take work of any sort -- PDA, laptop, and paperwork -- to bed with you.

7. Consider your "down time" to be just as much of a priority as work. Perform a “work is over” ritual to remind yourself that work is done for the day and now it's time to relax. This may be something as simple as changing into comfortable clothes once you get home, making a cup of hot tea after dinner, or simply relaxing in your favorite chair.

The Road Less Traveled

Minimize the need for some business trips by using audio or videoconferencing for meetings. This technology enables you to remain productive at the office and enjoy your regular routine with your family and also to pursue your personal goals -- and it provides cost savings for the company. The advent of electronic meetings are an alternative to stressful, time consuming business travel, allowing you to strike more of a balance between your work-home life.

Work from Home

Working from home can bring more balance into your life, as it shortens the long work hours and hours spent commuting in the car or on the train. It can give you the flexibility that you need to be more attentive to your personal goals and pursuits. But there is a need for caution, as you can become your own taskmaster, too. It takes a special talent to craft a life away from work when you live and work in one place.

While on Vacation, Relax!

I highly recommend not taking your laptop on vacation and keeping it turned off at home during weekends and vacation days, as well as keeping your cell phone turned off as much as possible. If you must check for messages, check your caller I.D. directory list at night, as this will minimize your impulse to return calls. If you must check your email, choose to read and reply to the ones that are urgent only, and do this only once per day.

And the best advice of all is to create a support system of accountability as you find ways to bring more balance to your home and work life. Remember, life can drain your energy; it can steal it and suck it away -- or, you can take steps to bring more balance to your life. It's kind of like putting up shields for the Starship Enterprise. When the shields are up and the armor plating is on, your energy levels are stored -- and you're fueling and bringing balance to your life.



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