In Aurelia Psychology’s bibliotherapy series we answer common questions by offering reading suggestions. We suggest books you can learn from and books that can help you heal. Some books will help you grow stronger and develop into the person you want to be. Finding a balance in life is a never-ending quest for most of us.
Question: I’m struggling to balance my work and personal time. What can I do?
A universal human problem is that we cannot invent more time within a day. We cannot control the speed at which it advances. Most of us have to work out of necessity. We also know that if all we do is work, we exhaust ourselves and are unable to work or have fun.
Understand the nature of time
Daniel Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing is a good place to start. The book helps you assess how you use your time and how you can use it wisely. When we understand the importance of timing better, we can begin to carve a little bit of space into our day. Or at least we can make the most of the time that we do have.
Prioritize your values
When we know what is important to us and regularly remind ourselves of our basic principles and values, it becomes easier to use our time more wisely. Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living helps you reflect on your life and living in a time-sensitive manner. Each daily meditation helps you set the intention for your day and live the life that is meaningful to you.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s wrote the now classic The Little Prince. This little book contains great wisdom. Are we focusing on the right things? Should we focus on having fun instead of having more? Having fun forces us to be present in this moment. Running after more takes us further away from happiness. Is it possible to waste time wisely? Is time wasted on the right things wasted time at all?
Fiction that slows down time
Do you fantasize about time going slower? Does the thought of endless summer days and having time to listen to the clock tick feel like a dream? Maybe time did not go slower in the past, maybe it was spent differently. Allow yourself to travel to a different place and time and explore the passage of time. Try one of Anton Chekov’s plays, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, or Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.
Maybe you need to say no more?
If you are already struggling with making time and you are stressed and under pressure, then chances are you don’t have time to read our recommended books. If that is the case, your struggle with work-life balance may be more rooted in your sense of worthiness and taking on too much responsibility. Perhaps boundaries and saying no are hard for you too. When that is the case, you may already be struggling in your close relationships or you may have even lost relationships because of this.
You may choose to keep going until your body will collapse! If you could only choose one book from here read Burn Out: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. It will teach you what will happen to your body when under chronic stress and what you can do about it.
This article features the advice of a licensed expert, but it is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment from a trained professional. In an emergency, please seek help from your local medical or law enforcement services.