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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

The One Thing You Can Do to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. That age-old advice isn’t necessarily relevant in today’s fast-paced world. In fact, new research finds that avoiding your work may be your best bet when trying to achieve work-life balance .

The best way to deal with too much work and not enough free time is to simply put the work off, said Julie McCarthy, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

As part of her research, McCarthy looked at three strategies often used to deal with opposing demands on time, attention and energy: dealing with the work at hand, talking about the demands to others or ignoring the work altogether.

While forcing yourself to get the work done — even in small pieces — has traditionally been viewed as the best option of the three, McCarthy’s research found that strategy could actually cause more problems as by causing stress , over-exhaustion and lack of recovery time. Instead, McCarthy told BusinessNewsDaily, simply walking away and finding something else to do is the best way to get some down time and recover from work overload.

“Mentally disengaging from the task at hand serves as a resource recovery function,” McCarthy said. “People need to do that on a daily basis.”

McCarthy said that the avoidance strategy may differ depending on the person, but she emphasizes that people need to focus on healthy alternatives to work, such as exercise or time with family , rather than disengaging by taking part in detrimental behaviors (such as drinking too much, for example).

“The key is to make sure free time is truly free time. That stresses from work are not impinging on that,” she said. “True disengagement is doing something and not thinking about work. Have music on or enter a fitness class. Do something that makes it hard to stay engaged with work.”