cover image Life Matters: Creating a Dynamic Balance of Work, Family, Time, & Money

Life Matters: Creating a Dynamic Balance of Work, Family, Time, & Money

A. Roger Merrill. McGraw-Hill Companies, $19.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-07-142213-0

The Merrills, time management experts who co-authored First Things First with Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), expand their range here to cover creative ways to successfully balance four major aspects of life: family, money, work and time. The premise of their program rests on what the authors call three gotta do's--validate expectations, optimize effort and develop navigational intelligence. For example, if you have determined for yourself and your family that financial security is important (validate expectations), it is necessary to take steps to achieve this (optimize effort) by, say, getting out of consumer debt. Navigational intelligence is the ability to make appropriate decisions when unpredictable events arise that may interfere with your focus. The Merrills borrow a paradigm from their earlier book that divides tasks into four quadrants; urgent, not urgent, important and unimportant. Drawing on personal anecdotes, the authors show how this division can facilitate making choices that balance the requirements of a family life with earning a living. Their philosophy is based on the conviction that a strong family-centered life is one of the keys to happiness and central to a stable civilization. The Merrills recommend working with children to create a family mission statement; they advocate regular family meetings, shared family activities and scheduled""dates"" between husbands and wives. This thoughtful self-help manual is not a quick read, but its advice is sound and can easily be applied to daily life.