Work-life balance is essential to a happier and healthier lifetsyle. Here are eight tips to help you achieve just that.

We’ve all heard about the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, so it’s incredible how few of us actually achieve the Holy Grail.

Juggling priorities isn’t easy, especially when they’re changing all the time.

You probably want the perfect job and the perfect lifestyle, but it’s best to accept that the two may prove mutually exclusive.

There are, however, several steps you can take in the right direction. Great Eatsern Life offers these eight tips:

1. Just say no

We all like to be diligent and well-respected, but we also need to be realistic. Some tasks are essential, while others are not.

In the latter case, a polite refusal can lower stress and lower expectations. Looking over a colleague’s work before it’s submitted is probably a favour, not a requirement. Likewise, dropping your neighbours’ kids off at school is a lovely thing to do, but less so if it’s making you late for meetings.

Don’t feel guilty. Just try to be fair.

2. Where does the time go?

Managing your time is just as important as managing others’ expectations.

Is the time you are dedicating to personal or professional tasks proportionate to their importance? If not, cut back. If two hours at the gym have little added effect compared to one hour, then don’t force it. You’re probably tiring yourself out – and this could adversely affect your work performance. Slice your life up sensibly!

3. A flexible approach

Some of us are bound by our working hours, but for many, options are increasingly open. Ask your employer what’s achievable for you.

“Flexi” working time is a common way of ensuring that workers complete the tasks expected of them in the time expected of them, but not necessarily within the hours dictated to them.

You may also have the opportunity to work from home if it’s feasible. Don’t be afraid to ask!

4. Work is for the workplace

You should of course only work from home when you have to. There will inevitably be times when you need to respond to an issue outside of working hours.

But just because you have a BlackBerry or work email access on your laptop, that doesn’t mean you’re duty-bound to stay attached to either.

Remember the rule about managing expectations. If you constantly behave as though you’re on call, your employer is liable to treat you as though you are.

5. You’re not alone

Self-sufficiency is a great asset, but it isn’t always healthy. You’re allowed to ask favours of your friends and close colleagues; that’s what they’re there for.

And if you’re a manager, delegate. They may not say so, but your subordinates expect it.

Take the necessary steps to ensure a good work-life balance. Illustration: TNS

Think of all the time you’ll free up if you just occasionally ask for help. Don’t lean too heavily on others, but don’t avoid asking in times of need. You can always pay them back in kind later.

6. Family matters

You may believe that the money you earn from your employer keeps your family afloat, but there’s more to stability than salary.

Make time for your family and stick to it. Allocating hours to your nearest and dearest can certainly seem clinical, but there’s much more likelihood that you’ll stick to your other commitments and avoid letting your partner and/or children down.

If you know that a family occasion is etched in your diary, you have a far better chance of working around it.

7. Use your holidays

Annual leave exists for a reason. You may think you’re indispensible in your workplace, but the onus is on your employer to cope in your absence.

Far too many people forgo the holidays available to them out of a sense of duty to those who pay their wage.

But remember that your productivity is greatly increased by regular periods of rest, and your employer ought to encourage those!

8. Look after yourself

Yes, holidays are invaluable times for rest and relaxation. But your work-life balance will benefit from strong mental and physical health throughout the rest of the year.

So, stay active and stay engaged with activities you enjoy outside the workplace.

Also, never use the excuse that you’ve no time to cook or no time to eat. Make time! Your personal and your professional lives need nourishment. You’ll feel better for it, and so will those you live and work with.

Eight rules may sound like a lot to adapt to. But even if you try to adopt one or two, you’ll be paving the way to a life of greater happiness.

■ You can also visit Great Eastern Life’s Live Great Portal to get other healthy living tips, articles and recipes, as well as wellness tools to conduct simple health risk assessments, obtain information on Live Great events such as health and wellness talks, seminars and workshops and Live Great partners’ promotions throughout the year. You can find out more about Great Eastern Life’s activities and events through its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GreatEasternLifeMY.

Next month, Great Eastern Life will be the exclusive event partner with The Star in the FitForLife Fair (previously known as The Star Health Fair). The theme for this year’s fair is “Get Fit. Live Great!”, and it aims to inspire Malaysians to lead a healthy lifestyle and adopt a holistic approach to health that includes physical and mental fitness, financial health and general happiness.

This is a strategic partnership in line with Great Eastern Life’s Live Great Programme introduced in April 2012 as the first integrated health and wellness programme by an insurance company in the region, designed to assist its customers in achieving their health goals. FitForLife 2015 will be held in Halls 1-3, Mid Valley Exhibition Centre from April 10-12. Admission is free. For details, call 03-7967 1388 ext 1243/1475 or visit Facebook.