'Simplify Your Work Life'

[FEB. 21, 2001]   ďSimplify Your Work Life." Elaine St. James, Hyperion, 2001, 298 pages.

Best-selling author Elaine St. Jamesí most recent addition to her "Simplify" series is entitled "Simplify Your Work Life." Described as "ways to change the way you work so you have more time to live," the book challenges readers to look at the way we work and, more importantly, the way we think about work.


St. James wrote the book after reflecting upon her own work life. While looking at her to-do lists she "realized how complicated and out of balance my life had become. I decided right then and there that it was time to simplify."

What does the author mean when she uses the term "simplify"? She writes in the introduction that "simplifying is not about retreating to a cabin in the woods and leading a dull, inactive existence. Rather, cutting back your hectic work pace gives you more opportunity to make sure that youíre doing work you love."

The book is divided into seven parts; each part contains a different goal to help achieve greater control over your work life.

"Cutting back on the amount of time you work" suggests leaving your briefcase at the office, cutting back to 40 hours a week and stop working weekends. One innovation that is gaining popularity in the American workplace is taking a sabbatical.


"Learning to seize time" shows you how to better manage your valuable time through careful scheduling, selectively giving out your e-mail address and minimizing your paper glut.

"Being more productive" refreshes and reinvigorates your mental and emotional perspective on work. Learn how to laugh out loud, work with an inner smile, employ all your senses and give yourself a thump (a stress-relieving physical tap to different parts of the body).

"Being more effective with people" goes beyond effectively interacting with your boss, staff and peers. St. Jamesí tips include figuring out why you say yes (when you need to say no), asking people not to ask you before they ask you, and learning to write it before you say it (especially when you have something difficult to say to someone).



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"Being more efficient with your money" is an important concept in the authorís work-simplification process. If people are careful with their money, the need for additional work to obtain more money is reduced. Money management includes living within your means, understanding the tax laws, appreciating the time value of money and paying yourself first.

All of these goals set the stage for the most important section in the book ó the goals that encourage you to change the way you work and think about work.

"Changing the way you work" advises you to create your own options, sell your boss on telecommuting and make certain that youíre suited to work at home.

"Changing the way you think about work" combines a sense of idealism with the practical methods necessary to achieve success. Reinventing yourself, imagining your ideal work life, following the wishes of your heart and taking the leap to change your work life ó these tips can help you improve the quality of your life through better management of your work life.

"Simplify Your Work Life" is an important addition to the growing body of literature on workers and the changing attitudes toward the American workplace. The table of contents defines each goal through specific chapters, making it easy for readers to concentrate on the goal(s) most appropriate to their circumstances. The goals are realistic enough that, with some effort and perseverance, success can be realized. The book is highly recommended to anyone who is trying to balance personal and work life or bring order and simplification to job or career.

For more information visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call (217) 732-8878.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]



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