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work life balance

Whether you’re a tightrope walker or an accountant, balance is a beautiful thing. This is especially true when it comes to time management. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get sucked into all-consuming work projects that encroach into your personal life and make you one of those dull all-work, no-play types. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In a great Daily Muse post titled “5 Ways to Reset Your Work-Life Balance When You’re Crazy Busy,” psychology expert and licensed therapist Melody Wilding offers tips for keeping your head above water. Read on and see how to keep from getting bogged down.

1. Talk to the Boss — When you start a big project, it’s crucial you make sure everyone is on the same page. When is this thing due? Will the work start to wind down at some point? Are you on target? “With full knowledge of your boss’ expectations, you can step in when things aren’t moving along to suggest a change in direction,” Wilding writes, and beyond that, you’ll be well positioned to roll with any changes that come along.

2. Stick to Routines — Patterns of behavior are helpful in times of stress, Wilding writes, so get in the habit of doing the same things in the mornings and at night. For instance, you might wake up early and knock out some work before signing into your email. Before bed, try some wind-down activity that doesn’t involve looking at a computer screen. “Engaging in a nighttime ritual signals to your body it’s time for bed, and clearing your mind before bed also helps calm your nerves, which improves sleep,” she writes.

3. Stay Active — Just because that major work project is eating all your potential gym or jog time, it doesn’t mean you can’t keep that body moving. Try to squeeze in exercise whenever you can — even if it’s just 10 minutes of pre-work stretching. Got a few extra minutes? Find some yoga or ab workouts on YouTube. Exercise relieves stress and makes you happier and more productive.

4. Allow for Quiet — Like exercise, quiet time is essential for decompressing and resetting the brain. If you can, get away from your desk during lunch or arrive at work a little early, before your chatty coworkers get there. If silence simply isn’t possible, throw on the headphones and rock your favorite tunes at your desk.

5. Be Creative — “Creativity is cathartic,” Wilding writes. “It allows you to channel stress, anger, resentment, or whatever other negative emotions you may be holding onto in a productive, healthy way.” That doesn’t mean you have to carve a giant statue out of marble. Compose some emails to friends or write a few posts on your blog. The key is to use those brain cells on something other than work.