We have always extolled the virtues of the work ethic.  Albert Einstein said, “The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest.”  We’ve come from six day work weeks to 40 hour work weeks, to flex schedules, telecommuting and remote access but yet we still struggle to find that perfect balance between work and relaxation.

Sometimes our jobs require us to work extra hours, weekends, holidays, birthdays and as a result we begin to feel disconnected; disconnected from those we love, from the hobbies and projects that we enjoy, from the parts of our lives that make us feel united with a world bigger than ourselves.

How do we balance our work schedules with our lives?  How do we maintain our effectiveness as employee and our sanity as a person?  Here are a few tips:

Schedule some fun time after hours – Those work days where we’ve scheduled something fun to do either on the weekend or after work seem to fly by.  We get even more deeply involved in our work hoping that the clock moves faster.  As a result, those days become some of our more productive days.

Make some time for yourself –  Set that alarm clock a half hour earlier, drag yourself out of bed and hit the gym, pound the pavement, pump some iron or climb some stairs.  A little exercise can get the blood pumping and provide an entire day’s worth of energy.

Get it done – For all the stress relieving tricks we’ve been given to do, not one of them can have the impact of crossing something off our list.  Whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery, writing a thank you note to a friend or getting a report done that we’ve been putting off, the feeling of relief from eliminating a pressing detail can be a huge bump to our day, not to mention freeing up more time.

It doesn’t all have to be serious – Take a little time to laugh.  Tell a story, read a story, listen to a good joke, find a little humor in everyday life.  One of the greatest lines any comedian can say is, “truth is funny…you can’t make THIS stuff up.”  An ancient writer proclaimed, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Finally, don’t forget that there is only one you.  While your company may honor you with a plaque or maybe name a parking space after you when you’re gone, you are irreplaceable to your family and friends.  So take care of you!