02/11/2013 12:32 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2013

Work to Live or Live to Work?


Work/life balance -- is this something that we can achieve?

More than ever, at this time in my life, I find I wear many different hats. Those of: parent, spouse, caregiver to my aging parents, employee, friend and volunteer in my community. On top of that, I need to designate time to my physical and mental self -- it's a balancing act not easily achieved!! I get tired just thinking about it all.

I have found that over the last 10 years the demands of the workplace are impeding more and more on my personal and home life. Did you know that one in four North Americans works a 50-plus hour week, compared to one in 10 a decade ago? Technology has made us a society that can be reached any time, anywhere! Don't get me wrong -- I love my gadgets and toys, but I'm realizing that I have to know when to turn them off.

I've discovered in my 35 years of being a part of the workforce that a balance is needed. Here are a few tips I have learnt and would like to pass on:

· Schedule and take breaks throughout the day. You need time to recharge -- clear your mind -- take a breath.

· Take your lunch break -- even if you're not hungry. Go for a walk or play a game of "pick-up" -- whatever it may be, just get up and away from your desk for some "me" time.

· Setting your priorities throughout your day -- be realistic about the things you can do in the time you have.

· Protect your private time. Make this a priority to discuss with your employer from the start of your employment. Let them know that when you are at work you will be there 100 percent, but the same goes for your private life away from work.

· Make a distinction between your work and the rest of your life. When the work day is done, turn off your work phone and computer! Also, don't spend that precious time only talking about work, leave it behind.

· Don't be available 24/7.

· Discuss any concerns you may have regarding deadlines. If it is unrealistic, voice your concerns then -- don't wait!

· Take your vacation!! Make sure to use up ALL of your earned vacation time. It gives you time to rejuvenate and refocus.

· Do something for yourself! If none of the above is achievable, remember that you still need to remember YOU! You still need to find something that makes you HAPPY -- that gives you that "pick-me-up" when the work day is done -- yoga; going for a walk; being with your friends... whatever it may be -- DO IT for you. Make time to check in with yourself!

Putting into practice, a few or all of these will help you see increased productivity and thus, make you more of an asset to your employer.

At the end of the day, think about this -- if today were your last day on earth (morbid thought, but play along) would you be saying, "Gee I wish I would have written one more report" or would it be, "Gee I wish I would have spent more time with my husband/wife/children..." I know which one I would pick... how about you?

So which one is your mantra??? Work to live? OR Live to work?

Well I'm off to do what I enjoy: taking pictures of nature! Enjoy!