This is the second article of a three-part series on work-life balance in the healthcare field: The fundamentals | Realign your priorities | Addressing the system

As a healthcare professional, your work requires you to be there for others, but how can you do that effectively if you haven't taken care of yourself? Now that you are acutely aware of where your hours go, it's time to look at what you can do realign your time with your priorities.

Lisa Cole, MS, RN, FNP, has spent more than 35 years in the healthcare industry. Her current business, Re-Source, focuses on helping people live and die well via lifestyle change, patient advocacy and care coordination. Through her work, Cole has learned three areas that can help reduce stress now and help you be more present as a caregiver.

Clean your house

While it is helpful to literally have a clean house, one key to work-life balance is clearing your head. To do that, start with what we are often great at avoiding — make sure your own paperwork is in order.

Do you have a will? Advanced directives? Power of attorney? Are your loved ones clear on what you want when you die? Although surrounded by these types of care decisions all day, many providers have neglected to address their own affairs. Go through the process, if only to come from a better, more informed place when helping others.

Keep digging

Another lingering issue most of us push to the back of our minds is the baggage we carry from old relationships. Whether they are personal relationships or history from experiences at other jobs, it is critical to acknowledge anything that has been unresolved.

Taking anger from a previous position or annoyance at a co-worker with you every day drains your reserves. Find a way to acknowledge and move on from these items so you can be more present to cope and help others cope.

If you think you do not have any, check with a friend and ask if he/she has ever noticed you talk about your past or an experience with annoyance. Griping about the raise you never got at your last job to someone at your current job is a sure sign you may not have come to grips with what happened and find a way to let it go.

Live intentionally

Clearing things from your mind like the space taken up by not having your affairs in order or not having addressed the weight of unresolved issues leaves you free to be more creative and focused, personally and professionally. Without those distractions or the long to-do list that provides such a handy excuse, there is more time to focus on what is really important.

The third thing and perhaps most important lesson Cole has learned from her life as a caregiver is to live with intention. Removing excuses and distractions, focusing on how you spend your hours and why will truly help you align the professional and personal sides.

Cole encourages people to ask: How am I living right now? What value or contribution do I offer? Or the question she has often posed to me: What's most alive in you right now?

If all of this sounds like too much, then it is likely you are exactly the person who needs to hear it. Most of us avoid examining our lives in this manner because it is so much easier not to. However, the extra effort can help transition from an unbalanced life to one where you are fully present to meet the needs of every day to your fullest potential.