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Books on Business: Enjoy your free time by learning how to work more efficiently

Sunday, May 27, 2001

By Carnegie Library's Business Librarians

"Simplify Your Work Life: Ways to Change the Way You Work So You Have More Time to Live" by Elaine St. James. Hyperion, 2001.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were able to love the work that we do, have plenty of free time to enjoy our families, friends and favorite activities and be financially secure? This book, written by the author of the enormously successful "Simplify Your Life," asserts that this is an attainable dream.

The first step is to find ways to work fewer hours and to eliminate unnecessary stress. How many times a day do you check your e-mail? How much time do you spend (or waste) on the Internet looking at nonwork-related Web sites? Do too many people have your cell phone number so they can reach you almost any time, anyplace, and for any reason? When you become aware of the distractions that can throw you off your schedule, you can save hours each week -- and maybe you will not have to take your unfinished work home on nights or weekends as frequently -- or, ideally, ever.

St. James recommends using the last five minutes of each workday to clean off your desk and make a list of what you want to accomplish the next day. Her ideas for being more effective with people in your workplace will be particularly useful. You'll learn how to set appropriate boundaries, identify which tasks to focus on most and assess the impact your words might have on others before you speak your mind or fire off a blistering memo.

The freedom to consider new options in your work life is directly related to your financial life. If you spend more than you earn, you'll never have enough money to take a few months off to investigate new work or career possibilities. The author offers many uncomplicated strategies for becoming a more savvy consumer and investor that will help you achieve financial security.

One solution is to seek out an environment that offers such options as flexible scheduling, job-sharing or telecommuting. Working at home is the perfect answer for the author, but she cautions that not everyone is suited for it. It will eliminate your commute and make available more time for yourself and your family, but it requires great discipline.

Some of the suggestions in "Simplify Your Work Life," such as cutting back to 30 hours a week, napping after lunch and taking a sabbatical, may be beyond the realm of the possible for many. But there are plenty of excellent ideas that anyone can use to find or create the time to nurture your nonwork self. After you read this book, you will be inspired "to decide, right now, that you'll do what it takes to keep your work in balance with the rest of your life."

Other titles of interest:

"Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. The Free Press, 2001.

"No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, No Logo: Taking Aim At the Brand Bullies" by Naomi Klein. Picador USA, 2001.

"You're Fifty -- Now What: Investing For the Second Half of Your Life" by Charles R. Schwab. Crown Business, 2001.

Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business, money and work, at 412-281-7141 or at

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