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KUSA - It's harder than ever to unplug and balance work, with life. How many of us are checking email at home, long after the workday is done? On 9NEWS 8 a.m. we explored some of the ways to reduce the insanity.

Dr. Tasha Eurich is a work/life balance expert, an executive coach, and the author of the New York Times bestseller "Bankable Leadership." She's says it's possible to build downtime into your schedule, regardless of how busy you are.

She believes working fewer hours, taking more breaks and occasional vacations can help anyone become much more productive and effective.

"I often see successful people derail by working themselves into the ground," Eurich explained. " We need to take breaks and give ourselves time to rest and recuperate." In one chapter of her book, Eurich reviews research that working too much, makes us stupid. "A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology followed British civil servants over fire years to see how working long hours impacted brain functioning," she said.

"People who worked more than 55 hours a week showed poorer vocabulary and reasoning than people who worked less than 40 hours. I can't think of a single job where vocabulary and reasoning aren't important. The bottom line is that there's a point at which working a certain amount of hours has a diminishing effect. The smartest leaders have the care and love for themselves – and their teams – to understand the costs of working too much," she said.

Eurich points out 25% of working Americans don't take any vacations at all. She believes that's crazy.

"First, you don't have to start by taking three weeks off at once -- that can often cause even more stress," Eurich said. "So, start small. Short vacations or breaks are just as good as long ones. In fact, shorter, more frequent breaks are better because the benefits of time off will fade after five days."

"Second, even though it's better not to check your email while you're away, you'll still see positive effects even if you're occasionally checking email," according to Eurich. "People have to weigh it for themselves and say, "If I don't look at my email, is my stress level going to be so high when I get back so it's worth setting 10 minutes to take every day to get ahead of that?" You'll still get benefits, but not as many as disconnecting entirely."

Eurich is a big fan of what she calls the O.L.T. principle ("One Less Thing"). For everything that comes across your desk, she says it's important to ask three questions.

"First, "Can this activity be focused or simplified?" For example, if it's the first time doing a certain activity, take the time to call someone who's an expert to shorten your learning curve."

"Second, ask "Can the task can be delegated?" Of course, managers have more options to do this, but even if you're an individual worker, there might be someone in the company that can help you. You don't have to do everything yourself."

"The third question is, "Do you actually have to do the task?" I talk about the example in my book: a COO had been putting together a quarterly report for years, but never heard anything about it from the group who asked for it. One month she said, "If I didn't do the report, I wonder if anyone would notice?" Nobody asked about it, and she never did it again. You have to be constantly monitoring for changes in your priorities."

To learn more please visit http://www.bankableleadership.com/Default.aspx

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