Creating a balance between one’s work and personal life is crucial for an employee’s health. A lack of balance can lead to major job burnout, which more than half of US employees suffer from, according to a recent University of Phoenix report.

Burnout is usually a direct result of employees being overwhelmed and overworked, leading to anxiety, fatigue, depression, anger, and more, the report added.

SEE: How to build a successful career as an IT consultant (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

While managers can try and promote a healthy work-life balance through flexible arrangements, affirmation, and vacation policies, the problem still persists across industries, especially in consulting, according to Elaine Biech, author of The New Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond.

“To thrive as a consultant, you’ve got to at least work toward achieving balance,” Biech said in a press email. “If you don’t set healthy limits, work will take over your life, and eventually you will crash and burn.”

Becoming a consultant is difficult enough, but prioritizing personal needs as well as work obligations makes the job even more taxing.

Biech outlined the following seven ways consultants can successfully achieve a healthy work-life balance:

1. Identify imbalance

The first way to change imbalance is to recognize the problem exists. Biech recommended writing down the three things you value most in life, and analyzing if you are actually prioritizing those things each day.

2. Make your own rules

Many people start their own consulting business so they can be their own boss, Biech said. Being your own boss means you can set your own hours. Consultants must set reasonable hours for themselves, and recognize that not everything has to be accomplished in one day. Biech suggested setting boundaries for yourself, with an example being, “If it’s not done by 6:00 p.m., it will wait until tomorrow.”

3. Remember to enjoy your work

“Don’t hurry through each project just to get to the next one,” said Biech. “If you love what you do, you may be missing some of the fun! Much of the pleasure may be in the doing. Be mindful. Stay in the moment while you’re working. This may not curb the hours, but it will make them more enjoyable!”

4. Take time off

Every working professional needs breaks to relax and rejuvenate, even during work trips, Biech said. These breaks don’t always have to be vacations; if you end a client meeting early, go for a walk or grab a coffee, Biech suggested. These breaks create balance.

5. Explore other interests

A busy job doesn’t have to take over your life, and it shouldn’t, Biech said. Working professionals need to find hobbies and interests outside of work, as these interests will give them motivation to spend time on things that aren’t work related.

6. Take advantage of being at home

Working from home doesn’t mean you don’t deserve breaks, Biech said. Sometimes, working from home can make it more difficult to stop working. She recommended going for a walk at lunch time, visiting the gym in the evenings, or even reading the morning paper, as ways to take personal time.

7. Pay attention to how you spend your time

At the root of work-life balance is time management, Biech said. Consultants must become good at prioritizing to get what they want out of life. These professionals can manage their time by working on several large projects rather than dozens of smaller ones, creating and sticking to daily objectives, and scheduling calls and emails, she said.

For more, check out How to survive your first year as a consultant: 4 tips on TechRepublic.

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