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6 tech hacks to master your work/life balance


Hearing more chatter — either at home or at work, or both — about work/life balance?

You're not alone.

While the concept of a balance between your work and your play has been around for decades, more companies today, especially startups, are putting work/life balance at the forefront of their recruiting.

As new policies enter the workplace, employees are also engineering their own methods to balance their careers and social lives.

Here are six ways technology can help you find a more equitable balance between your work life and home life — and help you maximize productivity in both areas.

1. Master your inbox


With smartphones, we're always on. An email reminder at 8 p.m. can easily spiral into a two-hour long back-and-forth that shifts your attention away from family, friends and leisure.


If being on-call isn't mission critical to your job, prioritize certain messages in your inbox and ignore others.


Ask your IT team to set up a coded inbox system that identifies messages as urgent and non-urgent and notes the time a sender needs a response by.


If possible, hold non-urgent messages until the morning.


Also, see if your company's operations department is interested in limiting "reply-all" emails that include dozens of recipients.


While they may not draw you away for long periods of times, reply-alls can distract you during your off hours.


2. Wear a fitness tracker to make sure you're active at home and the office

Wearables can help you maximize a number of activities that affect your work/life balance. The first is sleep.

Use your fitness tracker to monitor your sleep cycle and find the best time to wake up. The more you snooze in the morning, the less likely it is that you'll have enough time to eat breakfast, exercise or accomplish important tasks in the morning.

Additionally, fitness bands can send your alerts when you're idle. That could be when you're at your desk and haven't gotten up in hours, or when you're home on the couch not getting any work done (the lesser talked-about side of a bad work/life balance).

Finally, trackers will watch your activity levels and help you set goals. If fitness before, after or during work is important to you, a wearable device can offer personalized recommendations to help you reach specific goals, like walking two miles a day or reducing the amount of time you spend sitting.

It can also put those items on your calendar, so you don't forget them.

3. Plan your dream vacation; you don't have to take it this year


A girl can dream can't she?


While your dream vacation may always seem years away, try to bring it closer to fruition throughTouristEye. This allows you to create a vacation bucket list as you discover destinations and plan local experiences.


With more than 250,000 locations and experiences, you can plan far-off trips or simple weekend getaways on TouristEye. You're also able to use the site to share your developing itinerary with friends and family and let them add on.


When you use TouristEye, embrace the concept of a bucket list; not all the trips you conceive have to be taken in the next calendar year.


From a work/life balance standpoint, just being able to visualize a vacation before you take it can release stress and give you something to look forward to.

4. Cut down on excessive meetings that create more meetings and needless work


If meetings are a major part of your workday, there's a good chance they could be keeping you at the office and cutting into your free time.


According to Atlassian, workers spend 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings — time that could be better spent being productive or leaving work earlier.


To avoid excessive meetings that butt into your free time and hamper your productivity, ask your operations department about policies and technology that could put a cap on the number of meetings you can be invited to.


Further, ask if the company is interested in establishing restricted blocks around lunchtime, so no meetings can be scheduled during time when workers could be decompressing.

5. Work from home...and stay organised


Long commutes and longer hours are the bane of work/life balance, especially if you're stuck in a cramped cubicle. Both, more often than not, cause you to feel stressed, restless and shackled.


Remote work, on the other hand, is commonly associated with feelings of comfort and independence, especially for those coming from corporate backgrounds.


According to a recent study performed at a large travel agency in China, remote workers demonstrated increased productivity and reported higher worker satisfaction and less exhaustion.


Respondents told the Harvard Business Review that they were more productive because their homes were quieter than their office.


Though telecommuting can be a great way to achieve a more equitable work/life balance, it helps to have technology on your side. Here are two tools for remote workers.


  • Trello


Trello helps remote workers organise their tasks. The program lets users drag and drop to sort by deadline and write comments to track progress. Managers can easily assign you tasks, which you can pass them onto team members when they're complete.


  • HipChat


For more on-demand communication, turn to HipChat. The software lets you chat with your co-workers — both in one-on-one and group settings — and set notifications for different functions, like when your inbox hits zero or your project goes live.

6. Cut down on your social media usage; it's distracting you at work and cannibalising your free time


Whether you're at home or at work, there's a good chance you're dawdling on social media.


According to GlobalWebIndex, people spend 1.72 hours per day on social networks.


If you can decrease the amount of time you spend on social media, there's a good chance you'll be more productive and enjoy your free time more.


RescueTime is a software that monitors your social media usage and helps you spot areas of overactivity (maybe Saturday mornings are a problem?) and set goals (try only looking at Facebook on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and only for 15 minutes).


If you go over your limit, RescueTime will send you a notification alerting you of your digital transgression.


If you really want to crack down on all social media, RescueTime will block access to the worst offenders.


Social media is certainly not a bad thing, but if it's eating into your leisure time, you may want to rein in your activity.