Jeni Mumford and Katherine Lockett’s <> is a must-read for any employee. The simple self-help book discusses what we can do as individuals to ensure that we do not neglect work-life balance. It aims to guide people in organising their priorities and improving both their time management and negotiation skills.
Although the book was first published eight years ago, it remains relevant until today. With the ubiquity of technology, it has become even harder for people to pull themselves away from work. <> is a fun read with simple, practical tips that will be useful for you.
The book has a total of 7 parts. The first is “Your Job or Your Life”. It talks about how, despite people saying they would choose their life, their actions show otherwise. From working extra hours to always thinking about work, it is clear what their true choice is. However, it does not have to be one or the other. This is precisely where work-life balance is needed. By accepting that a change is necessary, we have taken the first step.
The second is “Looking After Yourself”. This part further emphasises the importance of taking care of our wellbeing. Often, people are stuck trying to impress others. For example, they think that putting in the extra hours will translate to recognition and rewards. But at what cost? Management cannot assign you more responsibilities if you show a lack of time management.
The third is “Small Changes That Work”. Even the smallest of steps is a step in the right direction towards work-life balance. Start with something as simple as turning off your work phone after your standard work hours. Log out of your work email accounts when you are not actively working. Creating a separation is crucial to establish a balance eventually.
The fourth is “Preparing to Work for Work-Life Balance”. It discusses how the changes may not be easy. A survey reflected that most people are unable to keep up with the small changes they have made as they feel guilty. It is essential to understand that not every task must be done right away.
The fifth is “The Bigger Picture: Getting What You Want, Long Term”. If your organisation currently lacks work-life balance initiatives, it is time to bring this to their attention. This chapter introduces popular initiatives such as flexible hours that provide a win-win situation for both employees and the organisation. It also discusses the negotiation skills necessary and when to accept that it is time to look for new opportunities elsewhere.
The sixth is “Seachange Is Not Just a Television Show”. This part shares plenty of useful information that can bring help to solidify the changes made in your life. It includes simplifying your lifestyle to reduce stress and improve your mental health. Although this was written way before the COVID-19 pandemic, the tips shared are especially helpful at this time.
The final part, “The Book of Tens”, includes a list of 10 ways to stay motivated without overexerting yourself. It is truly all about balance. I particularly enjoyed this part as it is almost similar to a to-do list. Still, only your readiness can control the deadlines.
And that’s a rough summary of the book. Reading <> was a great experience, and I was quickly able to relate to the content and use the tips they shared. I highly recommend this, and we hope the book will be as useful for you as it is to us, best of luck!