Books, Work

What I’m Reading This Month: Lifestyle Design

It is no secret that I have been struggling with work-life balance since returning from maternity leave. I’ve had little head space for projects at work that require focus, and I’m resentful towards work and the time it takes me away from the baby. There is never enough time to accomplish everything that I’d like to accomplish in a day or a week or ever. Sound familiar? Of course, it does.

I know that I am not the only one dealing with all of the stress of juggling so much and feeling like you don’t have the time to adequately devote to all of the plates you have spinning. That kind of stress can spill over into other aspects of your relationships and can take a toll on your emotional and physical well-being. Doing nothing to resolve the situation is not an option. Something will have to give eventually.

As a result, I’ve been reading a few books for ideas on how to approach this dilemma, and I came across a few interesting approaches to lifestyle design and how to free up time to spend it on what really matters to you.


The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

So what do I mean by lifestyle design? Tim Ferriss popularized the idea in The 4-Hour Workweek that you can break free from the typical work-until-you-retire model by determining what it would take to live the life you want to live right now by making your work work for you. In The 4-Hour Workweek, you are forced to ask yourself hard and direct questions about what you really want, what skills you have and what skills you need to obtain, and move out of your comfort zone and take risks.

This book was a huge success among digital nomads and other entrepreneurs when it first made the rounds, but it has received pretty harsh critiques the past few years. Some consider it dated, which it kind of is, and others have called it an outright lie, saying that Tim Ferriss himself works 60 hours a week.

I find the value in the book is thinking outside of your usual framework and designing something that works for you within your individual circumstances. If you want to just copy his success, you may be disappointed. I would recommend reading it just for the way it makes you think about your life and what you want out of it.

The Gig Economy by Diana Mulcahy

This is a great book. I love the whole freelance, entrepreneurial gig economy and the idea of being location independent, and this book really outlines how this is the future of work. Job stability is not what it used to be, and the author argues (and rightfully so, in my opinion) how income security is what you should be aiming for. The best way to have financial security is to have diversified sources of income, so if something happens to one income stream, it does not have as great of an impact on your livelihood. I found this to be so smartly written and inspiring. It’s giving me the push I need towards diversification.

Drop The Ball by Tiffany Dufu

For control freaks like me, I need to read books like this that tell me to cut out the sh!@. The author begins by explaining how she thought she could do it all and the moment when that notion fully collapsed (trying unsuccessfully to pump in the bathroom when she came back from maternity leave). This is a book about realizing what expectations are unrealistic and unnecessary and how to reorganize your life to prioritize what is most important, delegate when you can, and still have as much as possible. I really needed that going into a stressful week at work.

Articles On The Web

Having Children Can Be A Good Thing For Nurturing Creativity (Slate)

Good food for thought. I do agree that some creativity comes from trying to inspire and enrich them. I’m also finding additional creativity, not mentioned here, in entrepreneurial pursuits that I wouldn’t have necessarily embarked on without having a kid.

“Gig” Economy Is On The Rise (Medium)

This article outlines many facets of the gig economy and tackles it from directions that aren’t often considered. It is a great overall summary of where we are at and where we are going and includes data when possible.

How To Effectively Be A Work At Home Parent, While Keeping Your Sanity (voiceBoks)

There are a lot of lists that try to help you with managing your time and finding space to focus on your work uninterrupted. What I like about this article is that it explains ways to include your children in your work life and plan entertainment for those times you need to focus.

Do Your Kid A Favor: Be An Imperfect Parent (NY Mag)

“Everytime I stop trying to be perfect and start focusing on enjoying myself instead, I’m a much better parent.” That quote alone makes this article worth reading, but there is so much more to it. Witty and so, so true, the author explores how trying to be perfect creates anxious kids and tortures parents. Great read!

One Messy Mama
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Mummy in a Tutu
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19 thoughts on “What I’m Reading This Month: Lifestyle Design

  1. Drop the ball keeps coming to my attention; definitely one for the wishlist! It’s perhaps easier to let go of stuff than it is easier to let go of habits/self-expectation/self-imposed standards!

    1. It took a while for sure, but I’ve made going to the library part of our weekly routine, so I have a deadline of when I need to finish the book by in order to return it. The deadlines are working for me. 🙂

  2. Wow! You are organised! I’m reading Left for Dead (which I’m loving) and listening to in the car, The Nest for bookclub, which is junk and very hohum….though apparently everyone else loves it, so maybe it’s me….

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