A summary of Debbie Ireland’s book Work Life Balance My Arse which I read with a pencil in hand and is now full of marginalia.
This book firmly busts the myths related to work life balance through a deeply personal narrative that Debbie interweaves with practical advice and actionable tasks. Pencil in hand I worked through the book, making notes in the margins and completing the ‘Gems’ section at the end of each chapter so I could ‘reflect’, ‘define’ and ‘imagine’.
I read it through a period of great personal and career reflection for me and I feel like I could pick it up again at any point to relive and rethink in a new context. Debbie lists a bunch of resources at the end so I don’t have to flick through the book to find the other great books she recommends for bringing work and life into perspective.
My favourites bits:
- Decoys and signposts: Recognising the things in your life which come along to change your course. Aligning them with what matters post to figure out the difference.
- Tikanga: A Māori ritual where the team starts the day sharing about their weekends and family, and also sharing a song or a prayer. What a lovely way to create a connection with colleagues beyond tasks.
- Finding why: “We do things because we think we must do them or because we have always done them. We don’t often stop to ask why…”
- H2H: Human to human (rather than business to business). Building genuine relationships rather than promoting a business or personal brand.
- Lunchbox: Thinking about the aspects of your life as a lunchbox to fill. Only so much space, so how much do you allocate to each one? I imagine a little bento box with things neatly arranged and that on reflection mine has not looked that way. Probably more overstuffed and rattling around a hot schoolbag.
- TEC: Time, effort commitment. Helpful way to think about prioritising life activities. Do I have the time? Can I put in the effort? How much commitment is required.
There is so much more and I am sure I will recall things later that I wish I had listed instead, but I don’t want to re-write the book, just show why I found it so useful.
There were some bits that didn’t completely resonate with me. But not many. And I will keep them to myself, because I wonder if they will make more sense later on. This book is representative of a lifelong journey which Debbie has kindly documented and provided shortcuts to, and while there is benefit to learning from other people, some things just don’t make sense until you are in the moment. My only real criticism would be that I would have liked more space to write, it has become a little exercise book for me.
Thanks Debbie for this wonderful book.