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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Overwhelmed? Have I got the book for you.

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:

  1. You really ARE paid less than you're worth
  2. You don't make enough to support the lifestyle you want (or the one you already have)
  3. You're putting in more effort than you're being compensated for
  4. Work is taking you away from what's important to you
  5. You don't enjoy your work
As you can see, these are all quite different reasons for why we might feel like we're not making enough money (I can relate to several). Mr. Barajas then goes through a myriad of options for either changing careers, making more money at the career you already have, or making other changes that will affect the 'bottom line'. I hoped to see more discussion of frugal living (since that's my interest, and how I've given myself a 'raise' over the past year). However, this book is focused more on people who are willing and able to make career changes---maybe even those who would want to start their own business, since that seems to be a way to control and grow one's income more quickly than through conventional routes (like working in public education, as I do!)

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.


Jennifer said...

I'd call myself underpaid, but I actually make decent wages for my industry. They're about to add a whole lot more responsibilities on my plate though, and not enough wages to compensate for it in my opinion. I won't even comment on the over worked part! LOL

myfreeway said...

Your post on the book "Overworked, Overwhelmed, and Underpaid..." sounds like it might be of some help to me, especially of late. The job I have held for 19+ years is driving me crazy and making me sick, literally. A recent change in management is of a bullying nature. Maybe I need to make some changes! I have read many books including "Your Money or Your Life", Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover", and numerous other books over time. Hopefully I can get that copy you promised to the first one who comments and it can start me on a new path of positive change.

marci357 said...

Yes, it was a long post - but well worth the reading.

i guess I'm one of the few who is actually pretty happy with my lot in life at the moment :)

Frugalchick said...

I would love to read this book! My email is lucy.r.pike@gmail.com

Maggie said...

This sounds like a good book - I can certainly identify with that feeling of being overwhelmed. There always seems to be so many things that claim my time, a lot of which I don't always want to do (and then the procrastination factor creeps in!)

Is the focus of his book mainly on work/money issues, or does he touch on being overwhelmed generally? I guess he does, with the 80/20 rule thing.

email = mail@nutritiontotherescue.com

Finally Frugal said...

Aaaaand, it looks like Jennifer is the lucky recipient of Overworked, Overwhelmed, and Underpaid! Thanks to the rest of you for your great comments. . . .maybe soon I'll be offered another book to review and I'll get to do another giveaway. . .

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