Strategies for Balancing Complex Professional and Personal Lives
Balancing "meaningful work, satisfying relationships and rejuvenating self-care" is a difficult task. Life is often more about imbalance than balance, and the authors of Beyond Juggling, each a respected management expert, offer a guide for those who need to stop juggling frantic schedules and find ways to rebalance their work and their personal lives.
Along with five strategies - alternating, outsourcing, bundling, techflexing and simplifying- that can help people relieve the burden of overwhelming responsibilities on and off the job, the authors present many tools and tips to assist others in reducing the dissonance between professional and personal obligations. Using practical advice and real-life case studies of people who successfully use these techniques, the authors create a helpful plan that offers better ways to balance work and home.
Alternating, Outsourcing and Bundling
The first strategy for achieving better work-life balance - alternating - is characterized by a series of intense work periods, followed by breaks to recharge. The alternating strategy is great for people who like to pour themselves completely into a particular activity, and allows them to enjoy the "pure" experience of something before immersing themselves in something else.
Alternating also allows individuals to manage work demands around the changing demands of family or personal life and can be a way to recover from burnout relatively quickly. The authors say alternating is a great strategy for those who generate a substantial income and/or live frugally and those who have a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.
The next strategy to a better work-life balance is outsourcing. This is the process of delegating some of life's demands to others, and is the most common strategy for balancing work and nonwork demands. Those who use outsourcing successfully are those who are willing to try new ways of doing things, invest time and energy in planning and managing service providers, trade money for time, involve their network of social support, and invest their saved time in activities that yield the greatest sense of well-being in their lives. By hiring out a few menial activities, outsourcers can greatly improve the quality of their lives.
The third strategy offered by the authors is bundling. Bundling involves combining tasks and goals to save time, and increasing the alignment between work life and personal life. A bundler is a person who possesses a collection of skills and personality traits that borders a bit on obsessive. Being an extrovert and having a passion for both planning and efficiency are usually requirements for the most extreme bundling. This strategy can help anyone who wants to make small but consistent inroads to balancing his or her work and nonwork life.
Techflexing and Simplifying
Techflexing is the fourth strategy that the authors present. They say telecommuting is the most obvious example of techflexing, but it can also include any technique that relies on technology to gain greater flexibility in life. For those who don't mind solitude and have work that can be done remotely, techflexing offers a way for them to eliminate unproductive commutes and take advantage of daylight hours for personal priorities.
The authors warn techflexers that they should not take this strategy too far. Face-to-face interaction is still very important personally and professionally.
The fifth strategy offered in Beyond Juggling is simplifying. This tactic is based on making the most out of less. Those who are disciplined and clear about their values and priorities can better manage their resources with those priorities. When your expenses and demands are always low, you don't feel the shock of belt-tightening when the economy slows. By deciding not to compete for more prestige and money, simplifiers free themselves up to enjoy the benefits of reduced physical tension.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Beyond Juggling provides readers with an abundance of pertinent ideas about improving work and life. The five tactics it offers are demonstrated with relevant case studies and many compelling examples. Along the way, the authors explain how these strategies can be combined or used on a scaled-down basis for those who need only a little of what each offers. A final section that offers more statistics and perspectives about Americans' assumptions of working and living, and several tools for assessing work-life imbalance, make Beyond Juggling a useful guide for managers who are looking to increase retention and create stronger bonds between employees and the company, and anyone who needs help finding more balance in his or her life.