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Finding an ideal work-life balance can be tricky. The demands of both can take a toll for those who are not careful. Putting in long hours at the office and then long hours commuting, shuffling kids to activities and maintaining household responsibilities can leave even the most energetic people exhausted and burned out.

This is where balance comes in. The ideal work-life balance allows for both areas of life to co-exist peacefully, with neither spilling over into the other. The ability to be fully present at work, without the distractions of home life seeping in is essential to performing at one’s best. By the same token, the ability to leave work at work instead of taking it home is important, and means the difference between a full and happy life and a stressed and overwhelming one.

The work-life balance is really about quality of life. Attaining that balance is a popular topic. How many books have been written about it? How many work-life balance articles have been read? It is safe to say that achieving this balance is probably one of the biggest problems facing people in this busy and fast-paced society. So how is this elusive balance achieved?

There are many factors to consider, but here are three areas to start with:

• Prioritization
• Communication
• Self-care

These are three focus areas that can help bring life into balance. Let’s look at them more closely:

In today’s world, there are a million things screaming for attention all day, every day. From the time people wake up until they hit the pillow at night. There is no way to balance life without taking time to figure out where to put that attention. Prioritize the things at work that are the most important. This isn’t always easy, but it needs to be done. Identify time and attention wasters. Eliminate those things that are unnecessary.

At home it is the same thing. Identifying where time and attention are spent, and then determining those that are truly important is the key to making the most of the time spent at home.

This is a big one. There are many times that people find themselves stretched to their limits, ready to break, and no one even knows it. Communicating to the people around them is the only way to let them know when it’s time to ease back or even help out.

This is the next step. For example, if an overwhelmed employee has communicated that he or she has enough on their plate, then the next stage is follow through. This means two things: 1. Knowing when to say no, and 2. Knowing when to ask for help. These are two ways to practice self-care. This isn’t just for the workplace, this also applies to home. Again, there are a million things demanding attention. Taking on new commitments, activities, and tasks when your limit has already been reached is an invitation for burnout.