Several weeks ago, I was contacted by the publisher of an author named Louis Barajas. Mr. Barajas has a new book just out, and his representative wondered if I would be interested in reviewing it on the blog. Once I heard the title I had a feeling it would be right up my alley---and maybe yours too!
This self-help book is called 'Overworked, Overwhelmed, and Underpaid: Simple Steps to Go From Stress to Success'. Mr. Barajas is a financial planner, who focuses on underrepresented, lower income families who need help digging themselves out of debt and determining what to do with their limited money to afford the greatest security. He also does work with upper income folks, many of whom also struggle with questions surrounding personal finance.
I found his website to be very helpful, with many of the downloadeable forms that were mentioned in his book. I should note that Mr. Barajas has also written books regarding entrepreneurship and small businesses, which is a focus of his newest book.
So, how DOES one escape the cycle of feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid? The book is actually laid out in a very organized fashion (and I do love organization!).
First, Mr. Barajas discusses the concept of overwork (as someone who works two jobs and goes to school, I felt I could relate). In essence, the message is very similar to my other favorite book, Your Money or Your Life. The main focus of this chapter is on determining what is important in our lives, and gaining balance based on that knowledge. There is a 'life blueprint' form that can help us to figure out how much of our lives we really want to devote to work, versus the time and energy we'd like to devote to family, other relationships, spirituality, or hobbies. For me, it was incredibly helpful to see my life on paper, and to make decisions that I could view in black and white, versus simply considering---with no commitment to change---while on my way to work!
Next, Mr. Barajas turns to feelings of being overwhelmed. Again, the key word in this section is 'balance'. Except in this case, Mr. Barajas discusses the 80/20 rule, in which it is posited that 80 percent of our 'output' is actually connected to just 20 percent of the energy we expend. The key here is to determine (by using lists and prioritizing our activity based on level of success or output) what it is we're doing (what is the 20%) that is accounting for 80% of our output. The theory is that then, we can achieve more with less. Less time, that is. Now, for someone with just one job or one obligation, I think this might make sense. In my own life, I found it difficult to separate each of my jobs and obligations and determine what to cut. For example, my day job is a 40 hour per week position. Although I know that some of those 40 hours are much more productive than others, I need a full time salary to pay my bills (or most of 'em, anyway!). Therefore, even if I'm only using 20% of that time usefully, I can't just leave work when I'm finished---I at least have to pretend to be getting things done so I can keep my salary and my benefits. My 'overwhelmedness' comes not from having too much to do at ONE job, but at having too many jobs! Something to think about, definitely. When I have time, I'm going to try to apply Mr. Barajas' ideas to my own unique situation to see if I can make some changes that will help.
Finally, we come to being underpaid. This section brought up some very good issues, such as the five reasons we may feel underpaid:
- You really ARE paid less than you're worth
- You don't make enough to support the lifestyle you want (or the one you already have)
- You're putting in more effort than you're being compensated for
- Work is taking you away from what's important to you
- You don't enjoy your work
In the end, I feel that this is a worthwhile book. While I've linked to Amazon.com just so you can read a synopsis of the book, I (of course) always recommend trying your public library or used book store first---it's not a financial 'bible', like Your Money or Your Life. But it is a good read, and one that I recommend to those who are thinking about making some big changes in the way they consider the interaction between work and personal life.
In fact, if this sounds interesting, I'll spread the love and mail my copy of this book to the first person who comments on this post (if you've actually made it this far you DESERVE a free book!). Just be sure to either enter your email address, or send me a separate email with your mailing address so I can send it along to you.