The best way to shorten your workday

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Striking the right balance between work and play isn't always easy. If you're a workaholic trying to reform, take some tips and find the right balance.

Working late again? Many people have a hard time leaving work at a reasonable time each day. Whether you work in an office or at home, learning to walk away from the job is often a challenge. Finding a reasonable balance will allow you to have a real life and to be more productive during business hours.

1Get a backup.

If you work in an office setting, try the buddy system. Have a coworker remind you when it's time to call it a day. By making a public commitment of your plan to change, your fellow employees will hold you accountable and help you follow through -- and you'll feel obligated to live up to your commitment. When people realize you are establishing regular work hours, they will be less inclined to stick you with a "red alert" project after hours. Leave with your buddy, and choose a person who has no issue leaving at the designated quitting time. Making your buddy a fellow workaholic won't solve your problem.

2Adopt Different goals.

Fill your redeemed leisure time with activities you enjoy. Reforming workaholics are often goal-oriented, so set some free-time milestones that can satisfy your need for measurable accomplishments: going to the gym three nights a week, seeing a theater production monthly, or taking an art or cooking class, for example. You can mark off your progress, and it will help you transition into enjoying the time off. Always include the things that are the most fun for you. Walking in the park or reading with your child will remind you of just how precious leisure time can be.

3Make an appointment.

Commit to activities right after work. If you're meeting a partner or friend for cocktails or dinner, you'll have to wrap up work on time to make your appointment. Anything with a specific time will force you to end your workday on schedule.

Understand the benefits of recharging. Time spent away from work obligations makes you more productive and able to concentrate during business hours. Remind yourself that you are working to live, not living to work. Give yourself permission to relax!

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate station. Deciding to switch gears and write fulfilled a lifelong ambition. She started as a blogger for a diverse group of businesses, and now writes for a number of websites for companies in her hometown in the Rocky Mountains, and provides advertising copy and media buying for national and regional clients. She finds the research as interesting as the writing, learning about subjects as diverse as construction scaffolding, child safety seats, and newest trends in beauty and fashion. As a long-time devotee of SheKnows, she’s thrilled to see her own work on the pages.