An easy way to figure out if you have a healthy work-life balance is by asking yourself the question, “If there were a book I wanted to read, would I have time to do it?” OK, that’s a little reductive—and too specific, since maybe what you really want to do is join a recreational softball league, binge a show, or take a big nap. For better work-life balance, though, you might actually need a book—but not just any book. You might benefit from reading a book about work-life balance.
Here are some of the best, from books to help you stop overworking to books that will actually help you find that elusive fulfillment at work.
Books to stop you from overworking
First, try some books that are meant to help you stop overworking and start relaxing, whatever that looks like for you. Here are a few:
- Do Nothing: How to Break Away From Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. by Celeste Headlee ($13.19)
This book is Headlee’s call to action—or, actually, inaction. She advocates for a global shift in thinking that makes us all question why we’re working so hard and yet are so miserable. She thinks we’re looking for external fixes to internal problems, which really need to be solved by making time for ourselves. She makes this case with historical and scientific data, pointing out that the obsession with working too much is pretty recent, at least in terms of relative human history, which means it can be undone.
- Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski ($9.61)
Readers love this New York Times bestseller because it comes with real-deal strategies for combating overwork and its inevitable burnout. The authors take care to define the terms they’re using to refer to the problems in our individual lives while tying burnout to external causes, helping readers figure out what they have to do to stop the outside influence on their inner worlds. They suggest the concept of a “stress cycle” that has to be completed and give detailed tips on how to do that without becoming overwhelmed.
- Beyond Burnout: What to Do When Your Work Isn’t Working for You, by Amy O’Hana ($10.81)
We’ll say off the bat this book is actually pretty spiritual—O’Hana’s whole deal is she combines her experience in the mental health field with faith—so keep in mind it gets a little religious. That said, it’s overwhelmingly positive and even reviewers who were surprised by the faith-based approach called it “perfect” for fighting their work-related slumps.
- Chained to the Desk in a Hybrid World, by Bryan Robinson ($19.79)
Robinson has published three editions of Chained to the Desk before this, but his latest iteration takes on the uniquely modern problem of hybrid work, helping you untangle from the urge (or expectation) to be “on” 24/7, whether from your home computer or your cell phone. Work-life balance is hard when your work is right in your pocket at all times, but Robinson is a staunch advocate against workaholism and shares tips for recognizing when you’re taking it too far and need to step back so you don’t burn out.
Books to help you find fulfillment at work
When we think of work-life balance, we imagine having time off to enjoy our own pursuits, but don’t always remember the “work” part of the equation. You probably still have to work, even if your personal life is fulfilling, so you should enjoy that element, too. That’s all part of the balance. Here are a few books to help you do it:
- How to Work Without Losing Your Mind, by Cate Sevilla ($11.48)
Sevilla is currently editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK, but also used to work at tech giants like Google and Microsoft. That all sounds stressful, so her tips on how to manage the grind of a demanding job are all the more welcome. The book covers topics like dealing with overbearing bosses, but also how to navigate bereavement and grief while still trying to work, offering practical advice on staying on top of your real-life emotions and responsibilities while still doing good, meaningful work.
- Off Balance; Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction, by Matthew Kelly ($11.95)
The premise of Kelly’s book is simple: You think you want “balance,” but you want satisfaction, and that satisfaction needs to be present in every area of your life—including your work. He outlines what cultural practices are actually harming our individual pursuits of all-around satisfaction, but lays out clear steps to allocate enough energy to work and play and prioritize what should and can be done in both arenas. Reviewers say the book does a great job of capturing the reality that work and life are not totally separate things and can’t be treated that way, so you’ll be able to reframe your perspective to find the joy in both.
- Love It or Leave It: How to Be Happy at Work, by Samantha Clarke ($24.29)
Clarke is an expert in work happiness, meaning this book is full of practical advice on finding joy at work so you can be happy from 9 to 5—and stay happy when you clock out. You won’t enjoy your personal time if you dread your hours on the job, so Clarke advocates for either figuring out how to be fulfilled and happy at work or getting the hell out of there. She lays out how to do both, so either way, you’ll be more motivated and satisfied.
The Cheapest NBN50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.