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OVERSTRESSED WORKERS ABOUND, REPORT SAYS

White collar employees are overwhelmed by work - 48 percent are too stressed every day, 65 percent work at least one weekend a month and 47 percent spend three or more hours a week at home doing work.

But they can balance life by following a few tips, says a new study."Most people are not satisfied, not happy with their job, and do feel overworked and out of sync," said Michael Fortino of Fortino & Associates Priority Management of Pittsburgh.

But people can work up to 60 hours a week and still get in time for families, friends and spiritual and cultural activities if they plan for it, he said.

"We are kind of waking people up," Fortino said. "It's a matter of, `Where is your (stress) level?' And most people are not in their level.

"Some people need more, some people need less," he said.

Fortino said he found the average American professional in a lifetime spends seven years in the bathroom, six years eating, five waiting in line, four being interrupted and three in wasteful meetings.

Fortino went further. He said he studied 1,000 professionals in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand and will publish results in a book, "Time Flies When You're Not Having Fun."

Fortino found 85 percent of professionals work 45 hours a week, not counting time spent commuting and "networking" for work. But they still feel snowed under by work: 82 percent have at least 36 hours of work on a desk at any one time.

Workers bring home business problems, too. Sixty-five percent work at least one weekend a month, and 42 percent spend three hours or more a week on business at home.

This all robs personal health and family relationships, he said. For example, 48 percent report negative stress every day in headaches or nervousness. Another 42 percent don't read at all to their children, while 52 percent of professionals spend less than two hours a week looking after their children, he said.

To round out a life, Fortino suggests the following:

-Plan the next day the day before. That reduces nervousness and stress.

-Set appointments at odd times like 10:05 a.m.; people remember them.

-When leaving a message, say what you want the other party to do so they don't have to play phone tag and try to get back to you before they can act.

-Provide for "crisis time" so you're prepared if delays or crises come up.

-Always work with a clean desk, and use a "to-do" list for each day. That keeps you from worrying about the next day until it has arrived.

-Schedule time to work out at a gym or to read.

-Husbands and wives should schedule 20 minutes each day for meaningful talk.