PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2006, 12:00am

The Overload Solution

By Jane Alexander (Piatkus $160)

Juggling is something we all do. We juggle careers, children, social lives, family commitments and finances. Sometimes, we have so many balls in the air that our lives take on the frantic pace of a circus juggler.

This overload is a 21st-century phenomenon, according to author Jane Alexander, and one that can take its toll on our lives, causing stress, ill health, unhappiness and relationship problems.

Alexander, the author of several books about holistic health, lifestyle and well-being, decided to write her latest, The Overload Solution: How to Stop Juggling and Start Living, because she was suffering from overload herself.

She says the book is the result of picking the brains of countless experts, and it identifies 10 overload demons in people's lives. Some of these are the result of new technology that gives us too much information such as the internet, and mobile phones leave us on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Other demons include our own search for perfection, more money and higher status in a world that makes us feel that we're never good enough or have enough.

So, what's the solution? The first half of the book deals with the short term. You can start by cutting the overload a little at a time, while bearing in mind three words: delegate, share or shed.

There are also specific chapters on strategies to relieve stress at work, relationships, money worries and - because health and well-being is her thing - a chapter on stress-busters such as exercise and diet, with some homeopathic remedies scattered here and there.

In among her suggestions are 10 rather dramatic (and, perhaps, too ambitious ) ways to reduce your overload overnight, including the likes of switching off your mobile, leaving alcohol to the weekend, culling your address book and going on an internet diet.

The second half of the book looks at banishing overload in the long term and become less practical and more spiritual, looking at issues such as facing up to death, living for today and the importance of self-esteem. There's also a chapter on how downsizing (home, finances and career) can help - something I can't imagine being readily taken up in Hong Kong.

Alexander has hit the nail on the head with the subject of this book. Overloading is definitely the bane of modern life and we all should do something about it. But one thing worries me about her book: with all these balls in the air already, how on earth can we find the time to read it?

Verdict: Thought-provoking, with some useful strategies.