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5 Easy Steps to Help Balance Work with Life

I've been on a quest for the past several years to find a peaceful balance between work and life. Through some wrong turns, I really think I've found it.

I used to live in Chicago, and I had a stressful job at an investment firm where I would help put together stock-market performance reports for rich people. I couldn't have been more out of my element. I would stare out the window of the 29th floor at the beautiful skyline and wish I could be anywhere but there.

Sunday afternoons would roll around and I'd start to feel physically sick about having to go back to work the next day.

Then one day on the train to work, I had a moment of clarity: When you get there, it's time to say goodbye and come back home.

I walked around the office and said goodbye to the friends I had there, telling them it was turning my soul too black, and I simply left and felt a weight lift off my chest.

One friend gave me a standing ovation and sent me a card with a tiara soon after.

I thank God for that soul-sucking horrible job because it's armed me with a lens to see what is not acceptable. What is not acceptable is a job that gets its grimy little fingers on my life and starts choking the joy from it.

If you're struggling to balance life with work, ask yourself: Do I even like my work? Is there anything I'm getting out of this aside from money? For me, if it's just money, it's a deal breaker.

I know I won't be on my death bed saying I'm glad I made so much money. I'll be talking about family, friends and ridiculously awesome adventures, just like you.

If you hate every aspect of your job, of course that's going to bleed into your life because you feel unfulfilled and miserable with how you're spending most of your waking hours. That's huge, right?

I knew I wasn't cut out for work in investments, and with a move from Chicago now to Ohio, I have a day job that doesn't match the dream job in my head, but I've made peace with the fact that my job affords me to have my life back.

And to be honest, my move actually DOWN the corporate ladder has been the best decision for me.

Everyone hates parts of their jobs, right? I don't care if you have the exact job you set out to conquer--there are still going to be things that you allow your job the power to take over your sanity.

That. Is. Life.

Here are some things that help me deal with the fact that I have to be at work all day instead of writing away all day at a dreamy coffee shop listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

1-Tackle the Crud First

We are all good at putting things off, right? To make my days feel better, I tackle the tasks I like the least first. I make that phone call to the grump. I run the boring report that makes me sleepy. I get the parts of my job out of the way that I like the least, so they don't hang over my head the whole day.

2-Use a Timer

Please say I'm not the only one with a short attention span here. I cannot focus for the life of me at times, so I've turned to a timer. I'll set the timer for 45 minutes and make a game to see how much work I can plow through while having steely focus. I do this at least 3 times a day to keep me on track. It's like a really lame video game for adults, but it works for me.

3-Be Active

Not everyone can do this, but I have a stand-up desk at work, and I can't tell you what a difference it's made in my life. I stand up nearly all day, and my energy is a million times better than it used to be. I'm in a good mood, and I'm more motivated to do my best.

I'm about to get super dorky on you, but I have weights I keep at work, and when I'm feeling stagnant, I go do some squats with the weights. Anytime I take a restroom break, I do a minute of cardio like push ups or running in place in the stall.

(Sidenote--Maybe you're cringing at the fact that I do pushups in a public bathroom, but I am an extreme non-germaphobe. Bring it on.)

Is there any way you can involve more activity at your job? If you're already active, think about how you can schedule in 3 10-minute sanity breaks where you just breathe.

4-Exceed Expectations