Everyone wants a healthy work-life balance, but it seems that few are able to achieve it. Some even say that true balance is unattainable, because it doesn't exist in the modern world — smart devices ensure that workers are connected to the office 24/7, eradicating the line that once existed between "home" and "work" time.
"Smartphones are the modern professional's biggest blessing and biggest curse," said Lewis Howes, entrepreneur and author of "The School of Greatness" (Rodale Books, 2015). "Because of them, I can work from anywhere at any time and be really efficient with my downtime. However, there's [also] no stopping me from working 'round the clock."
With no clear boundaries, work-life balance does appear to be a goal that's just out of reach. However, as many experts on the subject have pointed out, balance isn't about building an impenetrable wall between your personal and professional lives, but finding ways to connect and integrate the two. [The Best 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance]
In their speaking series CEO Real Talk, entrepreneurs and business experts Garnett Newcombe and Kay Woods frequently cover the topic of work-life balance, and acknowledge that it's difficult to navigate the high demands of both career and home responsibilities. Newcombe and Woods told Business News Daily that employees often lack the ability to prioritize and balance their work and family life. Workers also have trouble overcoming the guilt of working long hours and accepting the need for individual personal time.
So what can workers do to stop stressing and start getting work-life balance right? Here are six actionable ways to help you adjust your attitude and feel more in control right now.
Recognize the role of work. Work plays a significant part in life. It keeps the lights on, pays the mortgage, makes the car payment, funds retirement and permits yearly vacations, Newcombe said. Adopting the right mind-set allows you to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor, rather than making your job seem like endless drudgery.
Develop one calendar for work and family. A calendar keeps you accountable to both work and family. When a calendar is implemented, Woods said, you will be able to schedule work activities during the work day and establish a cutoff time to be with family.
Create (and stick to) a daily routine. Like maintaining a calendar, implementing a strong daily routine will help keep you on track to achieve the balance you want. Howes noted that setting strong habits, such as sleeping 8 hours, avoiding checking your email for the first couple hours of the day, getting outside daily, and taking time to eat right and work out, will make you healthier and happier.
"It will absolutely reflect in your mental clarity, emotional capacity, relationships and creativity," Howes said. "Those are the traits that make up the greatest leaders and most successful people."
Learn to breathe. Work can get so demanding that you experience anxiety or become overwhelmed, causing you to literally or figuratively hold your breath. Neither state can be maintained for long if you want to be healthy. Relax, release and breathe, Newcombe said. As you slow down, it gives you the opportunity to regroup and assess where you are.
Make time for yourself. Feeling overwhelmed with work? Clear a small block of time on your schedule today to truly disconnect from your job (that's right, shut your phone off) and do something that relaxes you.
"Whether you take a walk in the park, get a massage or [take] a hot bath, it's important to always set aside an hour a week to do something for yourself," said Mark Feldman, vice president of marketing at Seven Step RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing). "If you don't, the time will seem to fly by, resulting in your stress levels and exhaustion going up."
Be present, consistent and accountable. Being present requires you to be attentive at home, at work and during free time, Woods said. Where you spend your time and energy has a direct connection to how successful you are in achieving work-life balance.
This article was originally published in 2013 and updated Oct. 28, 2015.