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Does this sound familiar? After a hard day at the office, you come home, snatch something out of the freezer, throw in the microwave, tell the kids that “soup’s on” and then jump on your laptop to check your work email. In today’s world, this has become an all too common occurrence.

Do you know how to “leave work at work”? If you don’t yet, it is time to learn, because all work and no play, certainly makes you a dull person. I know, because I was as dull as all get out.

Why it’s important

Sure, we all want to be successful. Yet being successful at the detriment of your body, mind and soul just isn’t worth it. Take a peek into the lives of the most successful people in the world. While they all differ markedly in temperament, discernment and knack for public speaking, they share one common thread: they all know when to unwind, relax and unplug. If you truly have a desire to be successful, start with Step1.

Step 1: Unplug – The laptop, the phone, all of it. Put it down; hide it if you must, but once you walk in the doors at home, work is finished.

Step 2: What you are missing – By having your nose buried in your phone, PDA or laptop you are missing out on your family and friends. Remember them?

Step 3: Read something – Wait. Stop it. I mean, read something not related to your profession. Pick up a book, Google a gossip rag, but whatever it is, make sure it isn’t work related. I mean this.

Step 4: Unwind – Run a bath, have a glass of wine, or sit on your patio. What you do to unwind is of no consequence, but you need to take some time to yourself to recharge your physical and mental batteries.

Step 5: Step back – By now, I assume you are pacing your living room like a strung out starving African lioness. You have done steps 1 to 5, and it’s only 10pm, now you are bored. Step back and walk away from the electronics. You are a junkie. You have a problem.

Step 6: Turn it off, all of it. No exceptions – You know, I love visual voice mail. I do. I love having a feature that texts me a complete voice mail message, saving me the time of having to listen to it. However, when clients would call at 10 in the evening for one thing or another, I could immediately feel my blood pressure raise while reading the transcription. What I am getting at here, is when the clock strikes five, your phone or PDA needs to temporarily morph back into a pumpkin, and can be your chariot again tomorrow.

Step 7: Make plans – The best way for any user to overcome an addiction is to replace that habit with something else. Make plans with friends, make plans to learn a new hobby. Whatever it is your time is now your own. Plan what you are going to do with it.

Step 8: I mean it. Stop it. – If you are like me (and you probably are) by now you have read down to Step 8 and are justifying a reason to pick up your work email because you need to check something. Wrong. Stop it. I mean it. Do not give in to the temptation. Walk away.

Step 9: Set boundaries – One thing is true about workaholics. We never say, “no”. We are all things to all people at all times. Not anymore. This is unacceptable. Your personal life is just that. Once the work day is done, home is home. Make sure your colleges and clients know this. After awhile, they will learn to respect it.

Step 10: Forgive – Sometimes you do have to work late. Forgive yourself for this, just don’t make a habit.

Step 11: Prioritize – Is Mr. Jackson’s report going to take care of you when you are old? Probably not. Prioritize your life. Family first, work second.

Step 12: Work to live – Don’t live to work; which is something I would hazard a dollar to a doughnut you do. The moment you get your nose away from work at home, you won’t be working at home. Ungplug, unwind and disconnect. Every night. No matter what.