Get a life: 10 tips for achieving a better work/life balance

We all know 60-hour workweeks are common in the IT world. But it doesn't have to be that way.

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3. Build a business case for your better life.

Savvy professionals are increasingly willing to asking for flexible schedules as part of their compensation packages when offered new jobs, Mok says.

"People with hot skills have more leverage in getting this kind of special treatment," she says, but that doesn't preclude others from negotiating additional vacation time, limited overtime hours or flexible start and end times before signing on with a new company. You can use the same strategy to negotiate benefits from your existing employer, too, Mok suggests.

Just approach the situation as you would any other business proposal: by building a business case for what you need. "You need to demonstrate, based on your previous performance, that you will be able to deliver the same results," Mok explains.

If you want to telecommute, for example, you should explain how you already successfully work without direct supervision -- making sure to include specific examples -- and how you can accomplish more without frequent office interruptions. Moreover, you should point out that a home setup is in line with your company's disaster recovery plans because it allows you to work even if the main office is empty due to, say, bad weather.

4. Take advantage of corporate policies and programs.

A survey conducted last year by OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif., staffing service, found that 53% of workers and 45% of executives said their employers were "very supportive" of efforts to achieve work/life balance. Another 37% of workers and 50% of executives said their employers were "somewhat supportive."

But work/life benefits, whether they're on-site child care, flextime or job sharing, can't help you if you don't take advantage of them. Learn what programs your company offers and consider when and how they can benefit you, Mok says.

Look at Schultz's case. His round-trip commute takes at least two hours, so he takes advantage of Battelle company policy and telecommutes when he has a daytime appointment close to home. "It's a huge relief of pressure, and it saves a great deal of time," he says.

5. Seek out a mentor.

"Look to people who you feel who have a good work/life balance and ask them, 'How did you accomplish this?' " advises Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

Brian Abeyta, vice president of IT at insurance provider Aflac Inc. in Columbus, Ga., remembers admiring a supervisor who was gifted at managing both her executive-level job and her life as a mom.

"It forced me to appreciate very disciplined time management," he says, noting that his superior was very good about dedicating her time and focus to the task at hand. "She set a schedule and committed to that. Wherever she was, she was at that place and wasn't thinking about where she had to be next," he observes.

That kind of focus and discipline, both from the Aflac executive and from professionals Abeyta had known at previous companies, helped him and his co-workers learn how to honor their own personal priorities while still fulfilling their job requirements. "It showed that we could respect for each other's time, and that we need to respect each other's lives," Abeyta says.

6. Work more efficiently.

Seasoned tech workers know when they need to rush back to the office and when they can dial in and troubleshoot remotely, says Natalie Gahrmann, a work/life expert at N-R-G Coaching Associates in Hillsborough, N.J.

She points to her husband, an IT director, and his own work habits as an example: He recently drove to his company's New Jersey backup site rather than to his Manhattan office to handle an off-hours problem, saving precious personal time in the process.

Another way to work more efficiently: Tap the expertise of a professional group, Buik suggests. "You become more efficient with your time at work when you can share issues with others," she says. "That's less time dealing with certain problems, which means all of a sudden you have more time at home."

One of Buik's colleagues, for example, recently researched details on HP C-Class blade servers through the Encompass user group and was able to make a purchasing decision based on that interaction, which saved him from conducting hours of research on his own.

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