work life balance without being an asshole

Ok, so summer is well and truely over; the flip flops are away and the winter coats are now out. Refreshed by (at least some) sunshine, and in preparation for the new year, autumn is a great time to reassess our work-life balance. Are we getting the most out of our work lives? Are we doing great work? And most importantly, are we managing to do so without being an asshole?! We here at designist have been pondering these very questions and come up with these two books -  How to do great work without being an asshole by Paul Woods and Your work and your life: towards a true win-win by Krist Pauwels. 

Krist Pauwels recognises that in today’s society work life balances that enable us to truly enjoy both our work AND our life can be increasingly frustrating to achieve. Written in a friendly and accessible way, Pauwels, an organisational coach, talks through what it is we really want out of work and life, suggesting that compartmentalising these into separate ‘boxes’ is absurd and a waste of time and energy. Instead he suggests reexamining our aims, desires and priorities to understand what it is that truly drives you. He gives us a number of exercises throughout the book to put into practice a number of different techniques aimed at helping us to tap into our creative energy.

Paul Woods is on a mission to show how good working practices and just plain soundness can help creativity flow and make our workplaces a more positive place to be. Focusing on those in the creative industries he highlights how a working culture of long hours and overblown egos, while often considered a normal part of working life, in fact adds stress and strain to our workplaces and hinders creativity. Working out how to find the best ways to work with all the different types of people and environments for most of us takes years of experience. Lucky for us Woods - who has worked at many different agencies in both Europe and American -  has distilled his wealth of experience into this little nifty book.

What we love about this book - besides Wood’s gas illustrations throughout - is how it breaks down all aspects of work - from meetings, pitching, feedback and hiring - into easy to read, humorous but also highly informative and instructive guides. As well as many useful bullet points on how to create more effective meetings/briefings/presentations etc, he also has sprinkled the book with flow charts to allow the reader to assess just how high or low down on the asshole spectrum they are during any given task. We particularly like his ‘am I overworked’ chart which allows you to assess your working hours over any given month to decide if your current job and workload is sustainable or if you should - as he says - ‘get the f@*k out of there’.

This is a great book for students about to enter or anyone working in the creative industries and most especially for those who are entering management level. Literally, there is everything you need here to make sure you are not an asshole at work.



“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.”

Don Norman