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Overburdened Americans Find New Source of Help


Too many responsibilities. Not enough time. Working two or more jobs. Information overload. Long hours and longer commutes. All across the country, books, magazine articles, medical journals, and ordinary families are talking about the stresses of 21st-century life. Americans seem to "have it all," but not enough time to enjoy it.

But for the select few who can afford it, there's someone who can help. It's a new kind of specialist called a "lifestyle manager."

This is not some fancy counselor or efficiency expert who sits you down and shows you how to save time, cut corners, and simplify your life. The lifestyle manager will agree completely that you have too much to do in too little time.

So he or she will do some of the things for you!

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post newspapers have recently profiled such people.

One New York City couple wanted to move to a certain kind of apartment in a trendy neighborhood, with just the right kind of shops and theaters nearby. They hadn't the time to look, and they didn't trust that a real estate agent would have their interests at heart. So they hired a lifestyle manager who found just the perfect place.

And in the upscale Washington suburb of McLean, Virginia, a lifestyle manager plans another couple's vacations, takes their cars in for servicing, even got the death certificate and planned a funeral reception for a relative who had died.

Lifestyle managers will wait at your home for appliance repair workers if you can't get away from the office. They'll check out restaurants and get you theatre tickets. They'll design your Christmas cards, take the dog to the veterinarian, and arrange every detail of your dinner parties.

As you might guess, lifestyle managers, or "personal concierges," as they're sometimes called, aren't cheap. They charge up to $100 per hour, which is as much as some psychiatrists command. But after all, what better way is there to promote mental health than by taking away some of life's daily stresses?

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