Burnout is real, just ask any business owner. When you start a business, it's easy for it to consume your every waking moment, causing other parts of your life to take a hit. Dealing with stress, developing new skills (outside of work) and your personal relationships can all fall by the wayside when work-life balance isn't a priority.

The first thing you need to do before you can work towards a better work-life balance is define what a balanced life looks like to you. People who are single and in their 20s may have more time for work over someone in a later stage in life who has responsibilities such as taking care of their children.

Just remember, you can't have balance if you don't define it from the outset.

To define work-life balance, write out the things that are important to you on a list. Next, you're going to put a number signifying the priority each item is in your life. The thing that is most important to you, gets a one beside it, the next item gets a two and so on. The majority of people will put friends and family as their number one, and then their health at number two. This seems promising, but the truth is most people let work undermine the first two priorities often pushing them down the list in reality. If friends and family is your top priority, then work should be a means to an end.

1. Stop multi-tasking

In Gary Keller's book, The One Thing, he emphasizes the need for blocking out time to work on projects at work. Keller insists you should write a priority list out at work and attack your first priority without interruption. You can take this approach to things outside of work as well. If fitness is important to you, then block out 90 minutes in the morning to get it done. If you think you don't have time in the morning, then wake up earlier.

According to the Harvard Business Review, and over 50 years of studies on cognitive science, when you're interrupted it takes 15-20 minutes to get your focus back to it was before being distracted. If you're multi-tasking you'll be less efficient and your long term memory will suffer.

Wherever you are, be focused on what's in front of you. Whether that's cheering on your child at a sports game, getting a workout in or working on a big project at work.

You wouldn't do pushups at work, so why would you answer an email in the gym?

2. Reverse engineer physical space to create balance

We mentally tie certain physical areas to certain behaviors. This means tying your priorities to different physical places in your life. In order to achieve the outcomes you want you'll need to reverse engineer each place in your life. If you associate your home with relaxation, why would you let something stressful like work infiltrate it? You're better off to stay at work and deepen the connection between productivity and your workspace.

3. Say no more often

If you get a request from someone at work, "hey, can you work late tonight?" it will be tough to say no. You'll want to naturally please your superior asking for a favor, and avoid the discomfort that comes with saying no to the request.

Dinner with the kids might seem like a weak excuse to not be able to stay late at work, but if your priority list on work-life balance has your children near the top, you know it's one of the most important parts of your day.

Research has shown that if you actually put things in your calendar, it makes it easier to say no to other requests that come in. Let your boss know that you have plans, but you have time several other time slots where you'd love to be able to help out.

4. Exercise

You can read countless articles online about fitness and it's importance to overall productivity. This is for good reason, Russell Clayton, assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University said, "Individuals who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work."

Something as simple as a 30-minute walk can release endorphins helping you battle stress throughout the rest of your day.

5. Set an alarm to go to bed

According to the CDC, one-in-three Americans is sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on cognitive health, stress levels, and overall performance. If you don't get enough sleep, you won't function at your best -- causing you to spend longer amounts of time on tasks at work. This is the time you could be spending on other things in life.

Chances are you wake up at the same time every day, however, the chance of your head hitting the pillow at the same time every night is doubtful. One simple way to get around this is for you to set an alarm to go to bed. Set an alarm to go off 30-minutes before you want to be asleep, this will give you ample time to wrap up what you're doing, and get ready for bed. By setting an alarm to get ready for bed you're upping your chances of getting a good night's rest, and this rest could be the difference between a balanced day or not the next day.

Published on: May 17, 2017