When will we give up on the idea of “having it all”? Excelling at your job and maintaining a work-life balance are two concepts that don’t seem to run in tandem, and this dilemma is foreign to hardly nobody. Former Princeton University dean and Director of Policy Planning under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter, has written about her struggles to perform well at her job while still managing to have a life. Her book Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family examines the roots of this predicament, and comes up with solutions on how to bring the most meaning to your personal life while succeeding professionally. Here are four ways you can maximize your career without burning out.

Productivity isn’t measured by hours.

A 2015 study from the University of College London found that people who worked 55 hours or more a week were 33 percent more likely to develop stroke than those who worked the standard 40 hours. Slaughter attributes the philosophy that a ‘hard worker’ is someone who works long hours to the male baby boomers. “It’s demonstrably not true… They’re not as productive after a certain number of hours.” she told the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast. “Exhaustion and stress takes their toll on health and productivity,” she said. Just because someone puts in a 80-hour work week, doesn’t mean they’ve accomplished more than they would working the regular 9-5. Law school was an all-consuming experience — where nearly every waking hour was devoted to studying and class. That kind of training leads lawyers and others in specialty fields to believe that once they secure a position, they need to be working ‘round the clock. However, that kind of lifestyle inevitably takes a massive toll on your immune system and emotional well-being.

You can’t compare family with work.

Slaughter’s versatile experience working in academia, government, and most currently as the CEO of New America, a public policy and technology thinktank, has taught her that if you give your employee ample time to be there for their family — whether it be taking your child to a doctor’s appointment or attending a niece’s graduation party — their gratitude will shine through their work. Putting a cap on time off for family obligations only results in distracted and frustrated coworkers. Yet, regardless of the circumstance, Slaughter expects her workers to find someone to cover for them or make up the task in another way. “I found I have very, very loyal employees… and work doesn’t suffer,” she said.

Pause the emailing.

There’s a very thin line between being a productive worker and being great at responding to emails. “If you’re really good at what you do, you’re not responding all the time,” Slaughter told Glamour. We all have that little voice nagging us to write back, but pressing deadlines and crucial projects take precedent. She explains that if you’re thriving at work, then you’re “setting the agenda” and some people will have to wait a few days or a few weeks for your reply.

Be a flexible boss.

A successful worker requires regularly scheduled time to decompress, focus on their personal needs, and chill out. Although many start-ups entice workers with unlimited vacation policies, the fact is that few actually take advantage of these kinds of benefits. “I think a lot of companies are willing to be flexible, but the minute you’re flexible, you’re no longer leadership material!” Said Slaughter. Workers sometimes fear that if they take time off then they might be sending the message that they’re not serious about their job. However, productivity is cultivated by inviting workers to take time for themselves and focus on personal needs. It’s a surefire way to nurture a devoted and dedicated team.

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About the author

Julie Morse

Julie Morse

Julie is a researcher and journalist with significant experience reporting on criminal justice and immigration law. As a researcher, she is always up to date on data-driven solutions for public policy reform. She loves to travel.

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