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Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

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Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a "rabid lunatic" running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there i Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a "rabid lunatic" running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we're never have enough time to do it all, or do it well, is "contaminating" our experience of time, how time pressure and stress is resculpting our brains and shaping our workplaces, our relationships and squeezing the space that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure. Author Brigid Schulte, an award-winning journalist for the Washington Post - and harried mother of two - began the journey quite by accident, after a time-use researcher insisted that she, like all American women, had 30 hours of leisure each week. Stunned, she accepted his challenge to keep a time diary and began a journey that would take her from the depths of what she described as the Time Confetti of her days to a conference in Paris with time researchers from around the world, to North Dakota, of all places, where academics are studying the modern love affair with busyness, to Yale, where neuroscientists are finding that feeling overwhelmed is actually shrinking our brains, to exploring new lawsuits uncovering unconscious bias in the workplace, why the US has no real family policy, and where states and cities are filling the federal vacuum. She spent time with mothers drawn to increasingly super intensive parenting standards, and mothers seeking to pull away from it. And she visited the walnut farm of the world's most eminent motherhood researcher, an evolutionary anthropologist, to ask, are mothers just "naturally" meant to be the primary parent? The answer will surprise you. Along the way, she was driven by two questions, Why are things the way they are? and, How can they be better? She found real world bright spots of innovative workplaces, couples seeking to shift and share the division of labor at home and work more equitably and traveled to Denmark, the happiest country on earth, where fathers - and mothers - have more pure leisure time than parents in other industrial countries. She devoured research about the science of play, why it's what makes us human, and the feminist leisure research that explains why it's so hard for women to allow themselves to. The answers she found are illuminating, perplexing and ultimately hopeful. The book both outlines the structural and policy changes needed - already underway in small pockets - and mines the latest human performance and motivation science to show the way out of the overwhelm and toward a state that time use researchers call ... Time Serenity.


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Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a "rabid lunatic" running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there i Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a "rabid lunatic" running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we're never have enough time to do it all, or do it well, is "contaminating" our experience of time, how time pressure and stress is resculpting our brains and shaping our workplaces, our relationships and squeezing the space that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure. Author Brigid Schulte, an award-winning journalist for the Washington Post - and harried mother of two - began the journey quite by accident, after a time-use researcher insisted that she, like all American women, had 30 hours of leisure each week. Stunned, she accepted his challenge to keep a time diary and began a journey that would take her from the depths of what she described as the Time Confetti of her days to a conference in Paris with time researchers from around the world, to North Dakota, of all places, where academics are studying the modern love affair with busyness, to Yale, where neuroscientists are finding that feeling overwhelmed is actually shrinking our brains, to exploring new lawsuits uncovering unconscious bias in the workplace, why the US has no real family policy, and where states and cities are filling the federal vacuum. She spent time with mothers drawn to increasingly super intensive parenting standards, and mothers seeking to pull away from it. And she visited the walnut farm of the world's most eminent motherhood researcher, an evolutionary anthropologist, to ask, are mothers just "naturally" meant to be the primary parent? The answer will surprise you. Along the way, she was driven by two questions, Why are things the way they are? and, How can they be better? She found real world bright spots of innovative workplaces, couples seeking to shift and share the division of labor at home and work more equitably and traveled to Denmark, the happiest country on earth, where fathers - and mothers - have more pure leisure time than parents in other industrial countries. She devoured research about the science of play, why it's what makes us human, and the feminist leisure research that explains why it's so hard for women to allow themselves to. The answers she found are illuminating, perplexing and ultimately hopeful. The book both outlines the structural and policy changes needed - already underway in small pockets - and mines the latest human performance and motivation science to show the way out of the overwhelm and toward a state that time use researchers call ... Time Serenity.

30 review for Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    Specialk

    If you're not a mom, you probably don't actually want to read this book. My rating and review are going to seem harsh - the book itself is well researched, well written, and I read [almost] all of it. Okay I started skimming in the last few chapters...but I'm not a mom. My issue lies in the selling of this book - the cover is appealing and reminds me of highlighters, sticky notes, and scrawled notes to self. That's me. The title is me: overwhelmed. Even the book jacket blurb is me for the most p If you're not a mom, you probably don't actually want to read this book. My rating and review are going to seem harsh - the book itself is well researched, well written, and I read [almost] all of it. Okay I started skimming in the last few chapters...but I'm not a mom. My issue lies in the selling of this book - the cover is appealing and reminds me of highlighters, sticky notes, and scrawled notes to self. That's me. The title is me: overwhelmed. Even the book jacket blurb is me for the most part. But this book is really about moms who want to have it all and are floundering. Are you a twenty something who feels like you're floundering? This book isn't for you. Single and overwhelmed? Nope, not for you either. Male? Unless you're a dad, and even then, probably not for you. This is really catered to the upper-middle class, I must be Martha Stewart super moms. Which is fine. If I had known that before I was 200 pages in with no non-mom chapter in sight.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    My first audiobook, this was incredibly compelling, well-researched, and equal parts depressing and shocking. (Depressing because busy seems to be an actual quest or measure of success and self worth for Americans today and shocking to realize how backwards our countries views of work and gender roles are compared to many happier countries). Listening to this at times felt like an assault on the brain with statistics flying at me from all directions and most of them made me want to press pause o My first audiobook, this was incredibly compelling, well-researched, and equal parts depressing and shocking. (Depressing because busy seems to be an actual quest or measure of success and self worth for Americans today and shocking to realize how backwards our countries views of work and gender roles are compared to many happier countries). Listening to this at times felt like an assault on the brain with statistics flying at me from all directions and most of them made me want to press pause or rewind. This was interesting information, some of it surprising, much of it worth hearing more than once. The author set out to discover why women have stopped reading the newspaper, which led her to do a study of how she spends her own time, which led her to other countries on a quest to find out how people spend their time and why we in America spend so much time at work (or working after work, away from the office, practically constantly) and so little time at play, so much time THINKING about what we need to do next, multitasking, and living frenetic lives riddled with guilt about everything we aren't doing. The author was incredibly honest about her own life and her perceived shortcomings, which gave the book an authenticity from the word go. She interviewed dozens and dozens of people from scientists and time researchers to working mothers and politicians. There was a strong focus on mothers, but I believe most people could learn from this book. I will be thinking about many points raised in this book for a long time to come. Upon completion, I was ready to move my family to Denmark. Instead, I took a yoga class. *I have taken this book out of the library at least three times since June but have never gotten around to reading more than the first few pages. The irony there is not lost on me. I listened to this audiobook on a road trip...which seemed like a good idea since the kids haven't spoken a word to me during our last several road trips, each deeply engrossed in their own Playaway books. Of course, I had to pause this almost constantly while I handed back snacks, fooled with batteries, broke up arguments, etc...again, irony...I get it! It is my daily quest to be present for my children, to dump distractions, to be in the moment. Busy is not my goal ever but sometimes it is a fact. This book reminded me that I also owe this presence to myself. 4 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book immediately caught my attention when I heard a snippet about it on NPR. I am a stay-at-home mom who would like to return to the workforce, but I have been worried that doing so would add a lot of stress to my life. I was hoping this book would have some suggestions to help me balance motherhood and a career, and it didn't disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations because so much of the book was applicable to my life right now. It has transformed my view of work, leisure, and tim This book immediately caught my attention when I heard a snippet about it on NPR. I am a stay-at-home mom who would like to return to the workforce, but I have been worried that doing so would add a lot of stress to my life. I was hoping this book would have some suggestions to help me balance motherhood and a career, and it didn't disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations because so much of the book was applicable to my life right now. It has transformed my view of work, leisure, and time. It helped me recognize time management problems that I didn't even know I had: feeling guilty for not "working", feeling guilty taking time for leisure, striving to be the "ideal mom", and contaminating my time with mental clutter. It was helpful, interesting, thought provoking, and informative. While it is by no means a perfect book--like most non-fiction it has its moments of being redundant and overly long, it is a book that I will likely read again and recommend to my family and friends.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars I picked this book up because I had felt overwhelmed as of late due to my commitments as a full-time student at one of the most intense colleges in the country. A few pages in, I realized that I had it lucky, with my two jobs and my classes and my club activities; at least I did not have diapers to change or a family to take care of while working my jobs. In Overwhelmed, Brigid Schulte nails down how society constructs myths of the "ideal worker" and the "ideal mother," and she analyzes 3.5 stars I picked this book up because I had felt overwhelmed as of late due to my commitments as a full-time student at one of the most intense colleges in the country. A few pages in, I realized that I had it lucky, with my two jobs and my classes and my club activities; at least I did not have diapers to change or a family to take care of while working my jobs. In Overwhelmed, Brigid Schulte nails down how society constructs myths of the "ideal worker" and the "ideal mother," and she analyzes how these unrealistic models reduce productivity and siphon our time and our strength. Schulte does a deft job of pulling together personal anecdote, research, and her own compelling arguments to highlight how American society spends so much time prepping for the future, worrying about work, and forcing ourselves into unbearable standards that we squander the present. She interviews professors, psychiatrists, and other professionals from various universities and fields. She travels to cities and countries such as Paris and Denmark to compare how they approach work, love, and play in comparison to the US. As an award-winning journalist from the Washington Post, Schulte knows how to research and write authoritative yet digestible nonfiction; she explains why we need to rethink time, gender, and work while supporting her claims with an amalgamation of sources. While she packs in a lot of lessons in this book, one that stands out to me centers on the all-too-known-yet-ignored idea of living in the present. I feel like we hear that message and think "yep, gotta live in the present, will do" before jumping into our next activity, submerging ourselves in what Schulte calls "the overwhelm." By reading Overwhelmed and receiving that message over and over - that we must cherish our time and truly live in the present - backed up by research spanning science, sociology, and more, I hope we all progress in our paths to time serenity. Two questions nagged at me while I read this, the first pertaining to the diversity of the people featured in the book. While Schulte devotes a little bit of time to nonwhite, non-straight individuals, for the most part Overwhelmed revolves around white, straight people, and I would have appreciated her making certain sections more concise to feature a wider pool of individuals. Also, this book focuses the middle to upper-middle class: what do the people do who cannot afford to take time off for themselves amidst struggling to support their families? I would have liked to see more challenging, divergent solutions for people of all socioeconomic brackets, not just those who can make the conscious decision to play more without suffering severe consequences. Overall, a read I would recommend to those interested in time management or to those feeling overwhelmed in their own lives, especially to women who have kids. An intriguing work of nonfiction that I can only hope will become less relevant over time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea McDowell

    It's funny. This book made me feel, mostly, lucky to be a single mom--at least right now--even though single motherhood has been a state of almost constant overwhelm for many years. The first three years after the divorce, my daughter was still very small; every weekday I woke at 6 and worked straight through until 10 at night. I got my daughter ready for preschool (and later, school), got myself to work, worked for 8 hours, picked her up, got us home, made dinner, cleaned up, got her ready for b It's funny. This book made me feel, mostly, lucky to be a single mom--at least right now--even though single motherhood has been a state of almost constant overwhelm for many years. The first three years after the divorce, my daughter was still very small; every weekday I woke at 6 and worked straight through until 10 at night. I got my daughter ready for preschool (and later, school), got myself to work, worked for 8 hours, picked her up, got us home, made dinner, cleaned up, got her ready for bed, paid bills, and when she fell asleep ran on the elliptical for 30 minutes in the storage closet, and fell into bed. There was no time for reading, hobbies, crafts, or anything else I used to enjoy, until Friday nights when she was at her Dad's house and I had a few hours to myself (Saturdays were for errands, and Sundays she was home again). It was brutal, and it took years for me to figure things out. I had a revelation a few years ago, at home one night taking care of my daughter after an exhausting day of work: "If I don't pay someone to clean this house, it is never getting done." For years it was on the to-do list as something I should do, and wasn't doing enough of, and felt terrible about; I'd spend part of my errand-days on the weekends picking up the worst of it, but it was never enough. And I realized, it was never going to be enough, because between taking care of my daughter and the house and the yard and the bills and the car, I simply didn't have the energy and time to clean everything up, too. So I started paying someone else to do it. And my daughter is now older and more independent, which also makes things easier. She lets me sleep in on Sunday mornings. Hallelujah. Things are different enough now that when I read the first half of Overwhelmed, I felt mostly grateful for being single; her portrayal of the state of affairs for married mothers is fairly horrifying. Yes I do absolutely everything around the house, and the yard and the car, and it's a lot of work; but there's also no one to resent who could be helping but is instead watching TV while I race around like a maniac. It's all my standards and if something slides, no one complains. If I want to let the dishes sit, the dishes sit. Some weeks the lawn does not get mowed. I get the bed to myself, and if I want to paint the nightstand pink, goddammit, who's going to stop me? On the one hand, I work hard than almost anyone I know (factor in a few chronic illnesses for myself and my little girl, and believe me, it's a lot of work with few breaks); but on the other hand, I have a feeling of autonomy and control that makes it psychologically more bearable, I think. For instance, I chose to spend Saturday morning finishing the book. My guess is a lot of my married mom friends at least did not feel they had the luxury of that choice. All that aside, the book largely covers ground we've covered so exhaustively before that it's disheartening to have to cover it again: those studies showing that women have tons of leisure time every week count things such as "waiting for a tow truck in a broken car" as leisure time, because it can't be counted as work or child care. Women are incredibly stressed out not only by all the work they have to do, but by the mental energy spent managing it all, including managing the tasks that other people (including husbands) said they would do, and by intense role conflict between ideal mother and ideal worker stereotypes that have no give and directly contradict each other. As a result, women today spend a huge amount of additional time today both working *and* parenting, and today's full-time working mother spends more time on childcare than the full-time stay-at-home mother of the 1960s did. Or that the pay and work penalties still exist, as this description of an experiment with identical resumes using different names, and with half listing PTA volunteer experience (showing parenthood) and the other half listing non-parenting volunteer experience: "Mothers ranked at the very bottom. They were rated as significantly less competent, less intelligent, and less committed than women without children. Mothers were held to harsher performance and punctuality standards and had to score significantly higher on a management exam than monmothers to be considered for the position. The recommended starting salary for mothers was $11,000 less than for nonmothers..." Do you have any idea what I could do with an extra $11,000/year? As is common with such books, we take a happy trip to Scandinavia and look at global rankings of the US against various other countries, in which the US always comes off looking badly. We discuss the role of fathers in modern families, and what needs to be done to make flexibility a realistic option for working fathers. We discuss childcare and attachment parenting. She covers this familiar ground well, and I enjoyed the third section on the importance of leisure time and play for adult women. It was a treat to see Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's work covered--I'm always mystified when she's not interviewed for such books, with all the groundbreaking work she's done. Overall it was very well done, but I would have liked to see more about ways out of the overwhelm. It might be too much to ask for--she makes a convincing case that the "time confetti" is a result of very strong cultural forces that are difficult for individual people to stand against--but the final section could have been expanded to include additional details and direction for people looking for a way out of their own over-crowded lives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    I don’t know what it is about me and nonfiction lately, but two-thirds of the way though (if you don’t include the 70 pages of footnotes, acknowledgements and index) it became a tl;dr thing for me (despite it being meticulously well-researched, I eventually had to just speed-read the rest.) I feel it’s a great companion piece to “All Joy and No Fun,” but both books will rile you up if you’re a working married mother of two like I am. (Hence why I gave this book 3 stars instead of 4.) The book is I don’t know what it is about me and nonfiction lately, but two-thirds of the way though (if you don’t include the 70 pages of footnotes, acknowledgements and index) it became a tl;dr thing for me (despite it being meticulously well-researched, I eventually had to just speed-read the rest.) I feel it’s a great companion piece to “All Joy and No Fun,” but both books will rile you up if you’re a working married mother of two like I am. (Hence why I gave this book 3 stars instead of 4.) The book is basically set up like this: There are all these studies and statistics as to why everyone feels even more rushed and stressed than in decades past. Funnily enough, the data often contradicts these feelings. (I immediately felt vindicated by the term “contaminated time”--the inability of mostly--surprise surprise--mothers working part-time to keep various responsibilities and pursuits separate, such as thinking about children while at work, thinking about work when you’re home trying to unwind, etc.) But what set up this paradigm? Various myths such as: 1) The ideal worker--a person with not a hint of commitments whatsoever, who’s available to work long hours and be on the clock 24/7. The person still idolized as meeting this goal is male. (As a woman who deals with work/family issues for a career noted, “You want equality (for women) in the workplace? Die childless at thirty. You won’t have hit either the glass ceiling or the maternal wall.”) 2) The ideal/intensive mother--if you can’t (or even worse, don’t want to) give in to conservatives’ dreams of mommies from days-gone-by (with their oppressive policies to match), then by gum you better make up for it with every last ounce of sweat and tears, every last minute, every last dollar you can wring out of yourself (jk; you’ll never make it up, because working mothers are EVIL). The American paradigm is your kids are never going to make it, never going to be a success in life, unless every hour of a child’s day is crammed with activities worthy of a college resume, and that is usually left to mothers. 3) The unspoken rule--especially when she’s stuck in the “ideal mother” paradigm-- that “Women. Don’t. Play.” Human happiness is built through connections that foster creativity and build independence, in ourselves and in our children, and that mostly happens through unstructured play. And I’m not talking mind-numbing activities like “Words With Friends” over Facebook. Not “purposive” leisure like quilting bees or jogging in the park. Not planning, executing, and cleaning up after holidays, vacations, and other family events. (Hence why my “dream vacation” has often been staying home and doing absolutely nothing but reading.) Women need meaningful play that brings joy into her life that she might not have experienced since childhood. It’s not what fills her leisure time, but how it feels to her. And good luck with that in our society’s Ideal Worker/Ideal Dad/Ideal Mom culture. Reading the suggestions at the end for how to overcome this paradigm and create meaningful time for ourselves and our families, I couldn’t help but wonder: How can we slow down this hamster wheel (or get off it entirely) when we have an influx of immigrants with work and parenting cultures even crazier than ours? Who are more than happy to be the “ideal worker” cogs in corporations’ machines (and those H-1B visas don’t hurt, either), thereby giving them no reason whatsoever to change their policies? But more immediately, how can we pull back--create equitable gender roles, when more and more families (including middle class families) need to work multiple jobs (often part-time so there’s no benefits) just to maintain a basic standard of living? (Again, thanks to government and corporate policies?) When if a family tries to recreate the “dream family” of the 1950s, all they create is a mountain of debt and living on the verge of eviction and starvation? The advice I give my daughter when we see all this craziness, with no signs of it abating? “Move to another country.” (After this book, preferably Denmark.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I want to buy a dozen copies of this book and give it to all the working women I know. Schulte does a good job of synthesizing studies and ideas about time and expectations, raising questions that we as a society should be asking and are not. Her writing is very smooth and easy to read with a combination of interviews, study references and individual stories. I can't recommend this book enough. I want to buy a dozen copies of this book and give it to all the working women I know. Schulte does a good job of synthesizing studies and ideas about time and expectations, raising questions that we as a society should be asking and are not. Her writing is very smooth and easy to read with a combination of interviews, study references and individual stories. I can't recommend this book enough.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    I loved this book so much, I'm going to buy several copies to gift to people. It's a must read, not just for women, but for everyone struggling with work-life balance. I found the beginning difficult to start because of how unfairly the home chores were split between Schulte and her husband (I wanted her to stand up for herself and demand that he do more to help out) but I'm glad I stuck through it because the meat of the book hit all the right notes. It was neither patronizing, nor unrealistic I loved this book so much, I'm going to buy several copies to gift to people. It's a must read, not just for women, but for everyone struggling with work-life balance. I found the beginning difficult to start because of how unfairly the home chores were split between Schulte and her husband (I wanted her to stand up for herself and demand that he do more to help out) but I'm glad I stuck through it because the meat of the book hit all the right notes. It was neither patronizing, nor unrealistic in the way that I thought Lean In was. Ironically, it took me having a bunch of downtime because of a broken foot to finish the book because I was having problems devoting large chunks of time to reading. While I've always tried to strike the right balance between doing work I feel good about and getting home in time for quality family and me time, I did find some takeaways that I'm going to try to apply to my own life. The most value I got from this book is that it made me realize how fortunate I was that I have a partner who is on the same page as I am in terms of childcare and household duties. I don't think it was something I actively sought out when I was dating, but I do think that growing up with a full-time working mother and a father who cooked dinner most of the time definitely shaped what I wanted in my family.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    This book made me more stressed than I was before. I was so excited to read it, but I gave up after a few chapters. I didn't want to be told that I have no time, I wanted thoughts on how to make more time! Found it in 6 pages at the very end - underwhelmed. This book made me more stressed than I was before. I was so excited to read it, but I gave up after a few chapters. I didn't want to be told that I have no time, I wanted thoughts on how to make more time! Found it in 6 pages at the very end - underwhelmed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristie

    This is a fairly typical self-help book. It is quite repetitive, explaining the situation and then giving examples to prove the point. A point which you already understand and agree with. Many people have too little time and the work / life balance is out of whack. Too many people spend too much time working and struggle to find time for their families or fun. Remember fun? People actually work better and are more productive when they make time for themselves to relax and refuel. I found this bo This is a fairly typical self-help book. It is quite repetitive, explaining the situation and then giving examples to prove the point. A point which you already understand and agree with. Many people have too little time and the work / life balance is out of whack. Too many people spend too much time working and struggle to find time for their families or fun. Remember fun? People actually work better and are more productive when they make time for themselves to relax and refuel. I found this book interesting, but it focused on a stage of life that I am past. The main focus was working moms - how do you manage your work and family obligations and still find time for yourself? My children are grown and my mother is aging. They all still need my attention and care at times. But, no, I"m not worried about homework and play dates. I'm more on the bring mom to the eye doctor appointment and babysit the grandson schedule. So, the expectations on my time are different. I can't necessarily delegate as easily as when my children were younger. So, some of this didn't necessarily apply to me. Also, I don't have a job that can offer flex time, etc. I am a therapist. The face-to-face, butt-in-seat time is an obligation in my career. Yes, there is paperwork that can be done at home, but that often leads to adding to my work time. I need to be available to my clients during work hours. I have found ways to not bring my work home that work for me, though they are not the suggestions made in this book. I still found some interesting tips in this book, such as setting one priority for the day and working in chunks. In general, there wasn't really anything in this book that I found incredibly surprising. There were no, "Oh! I have to try that," moments. It was more of an, "Oh, that's interesting," book. There is an appendix included, which basically summarizes all of the tips into several pages. As is typical, the book is a bit longer than it needs to be, which is a bit ironic for a book about managing time. However, if you are struggling with being overwhelmed and can't figure out how to divide your time, particularly if you are a working mom, this is an interesting book. If you are someone that feels guilty about taking time for yourself, this book is for you.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Very well written. Plenty of data and references to back-up what is being said. A pretty quick read. The book is split into focusing on Work, Love and Play, and has specific tips and solutions for resolving "overwhelm" in these different areas. The only critique that I would have, is that it mostly talks about couples with children. Some of the tips do not really apply to couples or single men and women WITHOUT kids. Even with that critique, I still found the book to be quite helpful in re-ordering Very well written. Plenty of data and references to back-up what is being said. A pretty quick read. The book is split into focusing on Work, Love and Play, and has specific tips and solutions for resolving "overwhelm" in these different areas. The only critique that I would have, is that it mostly talks about couples with children. Some of the tips do not really apply to couples or single men and women WITHOUT kids. Even with that critique, I still found the book to be quite helpful in re-ordering my work and home life to be less stressful and crazy. Highly recommend for anyone, but especially those recently married or entering a long-term relationship with a partner!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ali M

    As soon as I saw the title I knew I wanted to read it. Overwhelmed is just the beginning of what I have been feeling lately and I have been really struggling to get a handle on it all. Schulte's book is divided into three parts. The first part on "Time Confetti" really captured for me what I have been feeling a lot of lately. Reading it, it all seemed so obvious. While the details of time confetti in their parts were not really news to me, Schulte presented the sum of those parts in a way that r As soon as I saw the title I knew I wanted to read it. Overwhelmed is just the beginning of what I have been feeling lately and I have been really struggling to get a handle on it all. Schulte's book is divided into three parts. The first part on "Time Confetti" really captured for me what I have been feeling a lot of lately. Reading it, it all seemed so obvious. While the details of time confetti in their parts were not really news to me, Schulte presented the sum of those parts in a way that resonated with me. Reading the first part of the book was comforting because it made me feel like I was not the only one who was feeling this way. Schulte talks about "the sense that life is speeding up at a breakneck pace and that, though they yearn for it, many people can't seem to find an elusive moment of peace." She also talks about "living in an an always-on technological haze [that] leads to mental exhaustion," plus overwork, role overload, "this feeling of never-ending responsibility" and the concept of "contaminated time." Contaminated time describes the mental tape loop phenomenon that is so common for women - your to-do list is always going, the tape is always running in your head, and it causes mental pollution. Then there is the feeling of time pressure caused by the constant switching from one role to the next - mother, wife, worker. My generation has always been told that we can "have it all," but reading Schulte's book just confirmed for me the long held suspicion that the way society is currently structured we just can't do it. The only way we can have it all is if we change what that looks like and if we have a ton of help. Right now society requires ubiquity at work and ubiquity as a parent. Face time and long hours at the office are viewed as essential to success and even to being viewed as a good worker. To be a good parent, both quantity and quality time is required. Our generation spends more time with their kids than any other and yet we still feel like it is not enough and that we should be doing more. Oof! I must admit that after reading the first few chapters I was grumpy and resentful as all get out! Reading all about what a bum steer we get in the modern world, especially women, made me madder than a cut snake. Underpinning all of this is the culture we live in. To be "busy" is now a status symbol. Leisure time is misunderstood and viewed as idleness, slothful and frivolous. When we do fit in leisure, Americans in particular, make it purposive leisure like exercising. Then there is the guilt because we all think we should be working more. In our culture, leisure equals laziness. I must say that the notion of hard work is so ingrained in me that I fight the idea of leisure as valuable at some level too. We tell our kids, work first then play. The problem is we never seem to get to the play part. That is partly because we own our own businesses and also because of the season of life we are in. There are not a lot of days off with little kids in the house. We talk about how we need a break, we talk about how the best ideas come to us in the shower, while exercising or in the car during our commutes, but we do not seem to take the next logical step and program more of that time into our daily lives because it is valuable in itself. Schulte quotes leisure researcher Ben Hunnicutt in describing leisure in its purest sense as "being open to the wonder and marvel of the present." "The wonder of now." I know I am most often living my life as a slave to my to-do list. Leisure and the joy of now is just plain missing. Hunnicutt also says "without time to reflect, to live fully present in the moment and face what is transcendent about our lives, we are doomed to live in purposeless and banal busyness....It creates this 'unquiet heart,' as Saint Augustine said, that is ever desperate for fulfillment." And that right there, is when I knew that this book was just what I needed to read, because that is exactly what I have been feeling. My days are filled with purposeless and banal busyness and my heart is indeed unquiet. So, clearly I need to figure out a way to have more leisure time in my day. The fact that I see it as another task to fit on my to-do list, rather than a way of life, is a problem in itself. It reminds me of how when I first moved to the US over 18 years ago I really noticed that when Americans asked, "What do you do?" they mean your job. But in Australia, when someone asks that question they mean, what do you do for fun? (at least that was true of my twenty-something crowd in 1996!) I found Schulte's chapter on "The Incredible Shrinking Brain" fascinating. This chapter talks all about the deleterious effect on the brain that the "busy" way of life has. I especially loved the line "multitasking makes you stupid - dumber than getting stoned." But the information that resonated with me most was on interruptions. It can take five minutes after a mere thirty second interruption to get back on track. The days I work at home, I feel like I am interrupted every fifteen seconds. I never get any "flow" with no interruptions. My time to think is almost always interrupted. I am almost always trying to do multiple things at once - send an email while cooking. Research while fielding toddler requests for snacks etc, etc. It really made me think about what I say when I say I am "busy." I have decided that I am not actually busy at all. Because if I listed everything I need to do in a day I could fit it into a few hours if I had the concentrated time to do it in... or if I worked on ways to manage my time differently. Am I really busy? No. I am rushed. I am distracted. I am exhausted from role overload and shifting between roles and the always-on life of the modern technological world. All of this forces me to make decisions about my time that at are not necessarily rational. This section gave me a lot of ideas on how to make some changes to how I approach my day. Schulte's section on work was interesting but not really applicable to me. Some of the ideas for changes to the workplace are great, but as Schulte herself identified the women who are in the trenches now have no time or energy to fight to make these changes. Likewise the section on life in Denmark was very interesting. It's great that things work so well for the Danes, but it's simplistic to think we can just import those ideas, loaded with all sorts of historical, cultural and national baggage here and marry it with our own unique baggage. Cross-cultural comparisons are almost always interesting, and incredibly difficult to incorporate. One of the things I loved about this book was that it spoke to so much of what I am struggling with in my life right now. It helped me identify the cause of my current disquiet and gave me a lot of ideas on how to deal with that. The chapter on "The Cult of Intensive Motherhood" really spoke to the other half of my worrying: parenting and how we are trying to find an approach that makes sense. Like so many parents out there, our goal is to launch into the world, sensible, compassionate, mindful, fully-functioning, responsible, adults who are able to support themselves. Sounds pretty simple right? Our parents did it just fine, as did numerous generations before them. I will be the first to tell you that I have radically changed my parenting style over the years. With the Bigs I was totally in the intensive motherhood camp. Then we had a big gap (six years) before the Littlies arrived. I would like to attribute the change to wisdom, but honestly it was just sheer numbers. There is no time, no energy, no way you can parent at such an intensive level with five kids. At least I cannot. So, I parent the Littlies much differently. I parent by ear a lot. If there is no screaming and I cannot hear running water I usually assume we are all a-okay. It feels better to parent this way. Maybe I am lazier with five kids and so the laissez-faire approach feels good because it is easy. I actually think it feels good because it is much closer to how we were raised and we can see a difference in the development of our kids because of it. When I agonize with my girlfriends about whatever our current parenting dilemma is, we often console ourselves by saying, "Our parents never worried about this sh*t!" And it's true. I know my parents worried about us in the way that all parents do, but I do not recall them agonizing over choices for us. We were pretty much left to our own devices and it worked out fine. I did not have any after school activities until I was twelve-years old, I do not recall my parents helping me with my homework or reminding me to get it done. I remember my Mum making me an Easter bonnet for the Easter Hat Parade when I was first or second grade and that's it. I had already been thinking that our style should be called "Retro Parenting" and articles like What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside) by Jen Hatmaker tell me that I am not alone in wanting to buck how we parent today. Of course, anyone who has seen the projects that kids hand in today know that is harder said than done. Boy oh boy, there are some dedicated parents out there who do some great projects! We have found the need to let teachers know that we expect our kids to do their own work and not have us remind them. But the pull to be completely involved in your child's schooling is intense. School and all the requirements that go with it will continue to be a challenge to navigate, but we are going to try our hardest to put it all on our kids. We may not be able to be as retro as we would like on the school front, but we do have complete control over the activities we enroll in. Maybe I did wise up some when the Littlies came along. I was stressed out driving kids all over creation and more importantly when I stopped yelling at them to get in the car already to go to swimming or soccer or gymnastics or whatever, I noticed that they were stressed too. I noticed that my kids were happiest after school with time to chill, read a book and play outside. When they started telling me that they did not even want to go to some of their activities I was forced to make changes. We cut back to one activity per kid, but we let it creep up again. I can see the difference in my kids when they have too much on, especially when combined with how intensive school is these days. We are looking forward to the summer off from all the schedules and we will be having a long talk in the Fall about just how much we sign up for. It's easy to fall into the full schedule trap. Not only are kids naturally interested in so many things and they want to do them with their friends, but modern parents want their kids to have "every opportunity." I know I have taken this to mean, I don't want them to miss out. I know I mean I don't want my kid to be at a disadvantage in the race that is life. So, when Schulte writes about fear and the apprehension that no one knows the formula for success any more and that this drives a lot of what we do, I found myself nodding in recognition of this very force in my parenting. The idea has been percolating with us for a while that we have it wrong. This book really bought this idea into sharp focus for us. Education is extremely important to us. We want our kids to do well in life. We attribute a lot of our success in life to our academic achievements, but the older we get the more we see that academics are just a starting point and that success in life has much more to do with focus and discipline, plus a passion and interest in what you do. When we bought into the cult of intensive parenting, fear drove us to believe that our kids need to check a lot of boxes to get into the "right" college to have the good life. The push to check those boxes meant that we were motivated by things external to our family, instead of looking at our family and what we need. Signing our kids up for team sports when they loathe them, to check some mythical college admission need was just plain silly. The fact that we even entertained those thoughts when our eldest is eleven is ridiculous in its own right. We have come to the conclusion that we are not signing our kids up for any extra activities unless they ask to do it. Articles like Frank Bruni's How to Survive the College Admissions Madness tell me that you can drive yourself and your kid crazy checking all those boxes and still not get into the college you want. It also tells me it is okay to reject the fear and okay to opt out of doing all that you think you need to do to get your kid into college. The section on raising Gritty Kids really spoke to me on what it is that I want for my kids. Now I need to think long and hard on how to teach, impart, instill grit... but maybe the answer is that we just do less than we are doing now. We just stop doing so much for them. We stop treating them like they are the center of the universe and let them figure it out. As Schulte says, "what this intensive mothering culture tells us is valuable is at discord with what really is valuable: Love your kids. Keep them safe. Accept them as they are. Then get out of their way." If you are still with me (I know this is a long post!) you can tell I got a lot out of this book. But where did all this leave me? First of all, with the simple, but still utterly stunning revelation that time never changes. "There will always and ever be 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in time. And what busy and overwhelmed people need to realize is that you will never be able to do everything you think you need, want, or should do." Well, heck. I felt completely stupid. I have been desperately trying to cram more in, hoping that time will magically stretch to meet me like one of those crazy bags that you can keep shoving stuff into. It's so bloody obvious. Time is constant. I need to choose better. Fortunately the book has given me some ideas on how to do just that. I love the self-assessment that Shulte has come up with for herself: "Am I trying my best? Am I doing things for the right reasons? Do I make those I love feel loved? Am I happy? And then adjust as I go." I think they are an excellent place to start. I need to shed unrealistic expectations about how much I can physically do. I need to make time for leisure and I need to approach how I use my time differently. Now that I have had some time to absorb Overwhelmed I am starting to make some changes. I have made a pledge to spend some time outside every day rain or shine. Not only is the fresh air and change of perspective good for me, but it gets me away from technology and forces me to slow down. I am trying not to multitask - harder than it seems. I am working on a master to-do list where I write everything down so that it is out of the constant brain loop in my head and secure on paper where I can refer to it, thus freeing up my mind to actually think. I have been doing my #100happydays project for more than a year and it seems it was driving me to this point all along - to a place where mindfulness and practicing gratitude keeps me in the now. I am not only going to continue the project for as long as I can, but I am encouraging the kiddos to do it too. James is a much happier boy since he started his own #100happydays project. Aside from taking a photo a day I am just generally trying to practice being mindful. So when Henry asks to sit in my lap while he eats his lunch, I just sit and hold his little body instead of checking email or reading while he eats. I am so glad I am making the effort because there is such sweetness to these little moments when you slow down enough to enjoy them. This is especially true when it is not clear what I am rushing towards. I am dabbling in meditation and trying to write more. The fact that I am even thinking about ways to make life better is a big step in the right direction. I am hopeful that these small changes will spill over into my parenting and our family life in general and help our kids get where they need to be all on their own. Lastly, I am trying to put important stuff on the calendar first and do it like anything else on my list. I have decided that I need to go to yoga, both because of my achy old back, but also because it combines meditation and mindfulness and awareness of the now of my body in all the ways I need. So, the new me goes to yoga every Monday night and I love it. It makes me happy and relaxed and I hope to do it a lot more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I've long been fascinated with time management. This book was the jackpot. So many concepts in this book that will make you re-think how you talk about being busy. Fave clips: Average hours on the job, not only in the US but also around the globe, have actually been holding steady or going down in the last forty years. Everybody has more time for leisure. If we don't feel like we have leisure, it's entirely our own fault. Time is a smokescreen. And it's a convenient excuse. Saying "I don't have tim I've long been fascinated with time management. This book was the jackpot. So many concepts in this book that will make you re-think how you talk about being busy. Fave clips: Average hours on the job, not only in the US but also around the globe, have actually been holding steady or going down in the last forty years. Everybody has more time for leisure. If we don't feel like we have leisure, it's entirely our own fault. Time is a smokescreen. And it's a convenient excuse. Saying "I don't have time" is just another way of saying "I'd rather do something else." All those stolen glances at the smartphone, the bursts of addictive texting and email checking don't show up in time diaries. Yet that activity splinters the experience of time into thousands of little pieces. And living in an always-on technological haze leads to mental exhaustion. People are competing about being busy. It's about showing status. That if you're busy, you're important. You're leading a full and worthy life. There's a real 'busier than thou' attitude, that if you're not as busy as the Joneses, you'd better get cracking. It's not the kind of cars you drive anymore, it's how busy you are, how many activities you're in. Busyness is now the social norm that people feel they must conform to or risk being outcasts. People aren't admitting the toll busyness is taking. People don't say, 'my house is a pigsty, the laundry's really piling up,' or 'We're all completely overweight because I don't have time to cook a decent family meal'. There is a real downside to busyness. Busyness is a new kind of high. There is a certain rush when you're going a thousand directions at once and getting it all done. Authentic living requires keeping both life and death in mind at all times. No matter how much you do, how hard you work, how much you sacrifice, how devoted you are, you can never attain that ideal. You will never be the ideal worker. Cortisol acts like a "contagion" and spreads to a stressed-out worker's spouse and even his or her children. Making time for leisure to refresh your soul is critical for living a good life. When you're drinking a cup of tea, drink a cup of tea. When you're walking past a fancy house and find craving and envy creeping in, remember how much you love your own. Human beings need to play. Research is finding that play is what enables humans to create, improvise, imagine, innovate, learn, solve problems, be smart, open, curious, resilient, and happy. Screen time for an average American adult is 8.5 hours per day. The most in the world. We are a nation of couch potatoes, addicted to spending our free hours lounging mindlessly with a bag of chips in front of the tube, which is, various studies have found, making us fat, depressed, socially isolated, and more prone to violence, lowering our self-esteem, disrupting our sleep, dulling our senses, fogging our mind, and shortening our attention and our life spans. If true leisure is all about choice, sometimes TV is simply the easy choice. It's right in your living room. It's cheap. It requires no effort. Sometimes we choose TV because we're unsure of what we really would like to do in a moment of unstructured free time. What he finds in those who do not make time for play - is often joylessness, rigidity, addiction, workaholism, diminished curiosity, and, at the core, depression. The way you live your days is the way you live your life. - Annie Dillard You can't manage time. Time never changes. There will always and ever be 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in time. And what busy and overwhelmed people need to realize is that you will never be able to do everything you think you need, want, or should do. Ambivalence is being of two minds. And it is uncomfortable and stressful on the body and mind. Ambivalence is like living life on hold. We distract ourselves from this uneasy internal landscape with busyness. The opposite of ambivalence is a rigid intolerance for ambiguity, nuance or paradox. Take time to think about what you really want to accomplish in your life and what's most important to do. Schedule time for that in your day first. Create family systems and automate routines to cut down on arguing, nagging, and resentment. Share the load. Give willpower more juice and avoid decision fatigue by creating rituals to make parts of your schedule so automatic that they require no decisions at all.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    This is a winding, well-researched book written by an overwhelmed working mother in America. Schulte wanted to figure out how we got to this place where we work so hard and feel like we never have enough time in the day. I found it fascinating. Here are some of Schulte's main points: 1. Leisure and play are important. Human innovation depends on a spaciousness of time that lends itself to creativity. Individuals need to play to live a good life. 2. People work best in short, focused chunks of ti This is a winding, well-researched book written by an overwhelmed working mother in America. Schulte wanted to figure out how we got to this place where we work so hard and feel like we never have enough time in the day. I found it fascinating. Here are some of Schulte's main points: 1. Leisure and play are important. Human innovation depends on a spaciousness of time that lends itself to creativity. Individuals need to play to live a good life. 2. People work best in short, focused chunks of time, and they don't always work best in an office. Workplaces that prioritize long hours and face time are not producing the best work, and overworked Americans are suffering from stress-related health issues. 3. Throughout history, men's focused work time has been protected by the wife or the secretary who picks up the pieces. Women have generally neither had leisure time, nor focused work time. 4. Working mothers in America today are particularly overwhelmed. They experience "role overload" and mental clutter. They strive to be perfect in all arenas and come up short. 5. In many straight partnerships, especially those with children, women take on the domestic sphere without question. It's critical that men become more involved as fathers and in the home, and in our generation they are. Partners need to recognize cultural norms (men as breadwinners, women as ideal moms) and make their own rules. 6. The US has shitty policies re: family leave, paid time off, etc. because as a society we are ambivalent about whether mothers should work outside the home. For the most part, lawmakers are out of touch with the realities of working families. We need to push for substantive debate and better policies for families. 7. Women need to take back their time, which is less about using certain time-management strategies than it is about claiming their own worth. They need to prioritize and to let things go. They need to ask more of their partners. They need to get out and play.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    A confession: I did not read this book; I read sections of it. But I read enough to discover that the book is thoughtfully written and well-researched, and that it's the first book on this topic aimed at a general audience published in some time (correct me if I'm wrong). Then I took it to the check out counter at my local B & N, and left it there with an apologetic smile at the cashier: I don't have the time to read the book! Another confession: I, though married, no longer have kids at home, an A confession: I did not read this book; I read sections of it. But I read enough to discover that the book is thoughtfully written and well-researched, and that it's the first book on this topic aimed at a general audience published in some time (correct me if I'm wrong). Then I took it to the check out counter at my local B & N, and left it there with an apologetic smile at the cashier: I don't have the time to read the book! Another confession: I, though married, no longer have kids at home, and work at a occupation that is structured by me (I am a writer). And yet I still feel overwhelmed more often than I'd like. I picked up the book in the first place because I liked its cover--a reproduction of a crazy-quilt to-do list that looks remarkably like one of my own. I completely get, understand, and relate to the tremendous sense of pressure and stress that so many Americans, particularly those with kids and inflexible jobs (and how many are not?), feel today. And have felt for some time. After all, it's been well-documented for decades that most Americans, and American families, feel under siege with time pressures and demands. Schulte exhaustively researches this issue anew. Unlike previous writers on the topic, however, she sets out to discover how to find and reclaim the elusive hours of supposed leisure time a woman in her position 'should have' (according to social scientists), and she travels to parts of the globe in search of cultures that do a better job than we at taming the great time suck, and protecting leisure. Denmark, evidently, has found success in this regard. The primary focus of her book is on family and work, and the challenges of balancing both. But what echoed through my head as I read was a voice that reminded me of all on my own to-do list, and the busyness not just of my own life, but of the lives of nearly everyone I know--regardless of age, gender, background, wealth, education, occupation, race, and whether or not they have kids. What gives? Schulte points an accusatory finger at a number of well-documented culprits: rigid, outmoded workplace routines and structures, longer work hours and rising expectations of availability (the '24/7 ideal worker'), digital devices that render us always on call and reachable, and more. Further, she highlights the steep increases in housing costs, college tuition, and retirement that are driving most Americans to the brink in frustration and anxiety. And, she factors in the huge changes in expectations regarding the accomplishments of children, their ever-increasing busyness, highly structured lives, and shrinking independence. Is your head aching? Mine is. But this isn't enough, I think, to explain what is going on. What I believe has happened in America is that in the years of economic boom, building, and babies following WWII, many if not most of us raised our expectations precipitously. Expectations of happiness, of workplace satisfaction and meaningfulness, of material comfort and possessions, of education and culture, of activity and interaction, of movement and travel, of justice and freedom, of self-expression and exploration. For both ourselves and our children. In other words, we began to really believe, and take seriously, the words of the opening of the Declaration of Independence: "...all men are created equal...endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...among these Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". And I believe that these changes in expectations occurred across the ranks in American, throughout, to one degree or another, all classes and groups. And that we now pursue the fulfillment of these expectations with such vigor, and relentless application that we have lost touch with how busy we are relative to other people around the globe, and to those who came before us. That we frown on slowing down, or on any kind of true leisure, vacation, holiday, or 'slack', and that we are proud of being able to handle (so we think) constant pressure, nights of little sleep, and always being on the go. That we are literally making ourselves and many of our kids sick with near-continual activity. That we no longer understand and appreciate that deeper learning, understanding, and creativity, as well as friendship and relatedness, is incumbent on time, often a good deal of it. And that many, if not most of us, would not know what to do with a completely unstructured week should it fall into our lap. And might break out in hives if it did... So I applaud Ms Schulte's book, and believe we need to keep exploring this topic. But I do believe that we need to widen the parameters of our investigation. America and Americans might well be frenetically busy for all of the familiar reasons explored in her book. But I believe that we are busy also because for many of us we simply like being busy, and really can't function any longer in any other way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laurian Vega

    This book gave me palpitations. You know that show where interventions are filmed for drug addicts? This book felt like an intervention but for busy moms. The difference is that was filled with none of the love of a supportive family, provided little or no solutions that felt tangible, and yet was still filled with all of the tears and reflections on how horrible you are. That said, it was a very good book. If only, in some sense, it was good because it was so stark. It was a bit like trying on This book gave me palpitations. You know that show where interventions are filmed for drug addicts? This book felt like an intervention but for busy moms. The difference is that was filled with none of the love of a supportive family, provided little or no solutions that felt tangible, and yet was still filled with all of the tears and reflections on how horrible you are. That said, it was a very good book. If only, in some sense, it was good because it was so stark. It was a bit like trying on a bathing suit at a TJ Max: everything jiggles and nothing looks flattering. It presents the argument that the frantic crazy mother is a product of our culture and we are basically stuck being a crazy mother because things aren't going to change very quickly. To be fair, the last 10 pages is a set of solutions. But, by the time you get there you have an ulcer and you feel bad for even picking up the book rather than being out there and being in the moment. I think this should be mandatory reading for all CEOs before they can obtain a business degree. Oh, and all fathers.... you know, before obtaining a child.

  17. 4 out of 5

    DW

    A friend recommended this to me, and I held off because I thought reading about being stressed out would only make me more so. Instead, like most books I resist at first, it was a refreshing change. It reminded me of how many roles we take on in life. Why bother with the pageantry? Who suggested we do so? Why do we spend so much energy trying to achieve them? I'm empowered to do more but in far fewer areas. I'm also empowered to make sure others in my life get a chance to do the same. Equity is n A friend recommended this to me, and I held off because I thought reading about being stressed out would only make me more so. Instead, like most books I resist at first, it was a refreshing change. It reminded me of how many roles we take on in life. Why bother with the pageantry? Who suggested we do so? Why do we spend so much energy trying to achieve them? I'm empowered to do more but in far fewer areas. I'm also empowered to make sure others in my life get a chance to do the same. Equity is not only possible, but essential to happiness across the board. PS: Cortisol sucks. Seriously, have less of that in you. Holy crap.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Where was this book? I picked it up because I heard an interview with Brigid Schulte on NPR and thought her book sounded interesting. I was wrong - it wasn't just interesting, it was an eye-opener. The book looks at why we all say we don't have any time and what we need to do about it. It is really focused on parents (and mothers, specifically), but I have been recommending it to everyone. It made me reevaluate why I have been so crazy in my life. And, honestly, every day since I started reading Where was this book? I picked it up because I heard an interview with Brigid Schulte on NPR and thought her book sounded interesting. I was wrong - it wasn't just interesting, it was an eye-opener. The book looks at why we all say we don't have any time and what we need to do about it. It is really focused on parents (and mothers, specifically), but I have been recommending it to everyone. It made me reevaluate why I have been so crazy in my life. And, honestly, every day since I started reading this book has been better. I cannot recommend it enough. Read it. You will be so happy you did.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Interesting albeit exhaustive/exhausting read about the ideal worker, the professional parent and why I am so tired all the time. Made me aspire to C grade parenting and a possible move to Denmark. Nothing life changing here though.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

    These are my 30 "nuggets" from the book that I will continue to think about: 1. 30 hours of week leisure 2. Space in your brain...a constant tape being played 3. Part time women have more stress 4. Fair Labor Standards Act protects hourly workers from overwork by mandating OT pay 1 in 7 workers was salary 40% of men and 20% of women work 50+ 5. Competition about being busy 6. The brain can hold only seven pieces in the working memory at any time 7. Women feel guilty for getting immersed in something a These are my 30 "nuggets" from the book that I will continue to think about: 1. 30 hours of week leisure 2. Space in your brain...a constant tape being played 3. Part time women have more stress 4. Fair Labor Standards Act protects hourly workers from overwork by mandating OT pay 1 in 7 workers was salary 40% of men and 20% of women work 50+ 5. Competition about being busy 6. The brain can hold only seven pieces in the working memory at any time 7. Women feel guilty for getting immersed in something and forgets themselves, time and everything around them 8. Difficult for women to live in the moment 9. Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978 10. Die childless at 30... You won't have hit the glass ceiling or the maternal wall 11. Overwhelm is an issue for everyone 12. Killing of the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971... Mom should be at home. Child care would destroy families 13. 2013 HHS proposed the first ever federal safety standards for centers receiving federal funding and finally passed/signed by Obama in Nov 2014 14. Lanham Act during WWII allowing Rosie the Riviter to go to work 15. Only CA, NJ and RI provide paid parental leave (not full pay). WA has passed it but it is unfunded. Nationally it was tried in 1985... 16. We spend too much of our work lives trying to deny our humanity 17. Maternal gatekeeping 18. Women more satisfied/happy at work, men at home 19. Work creep 20. I had to let Martha go 21. We live in an achievement oriented society 22. In 2014, Obama signed a presidential memo giving all federal employees the right to request flexible work schedules 23. Move from child-centered to child-dominated 24. Happiness habits -gratitude, blessings, etc 25. US - achievement above all. Denmark - live a good life 26. Danes have a 37 hour work week. 9-424pm. No one in Europe can work longer than 48 hours. 6 weeks paid vacation. Checking email at night seen as inefficient during the work day. Two extra days to care per child on top of sick leave. 27. Living with a two-year old is like living with a bipolar drunken troll 28. Help your children develop resilience, perseverance and grit 29. Encourage your son to babysit 30. Take a shower with a pink pig

  21. 5 out of 5

    Manik Sukoco

    As someone who has been involved in these issues professionally and personally, I can honestly say this is the best book I have read on the topic. Not only does it provide cutting edge reporting, Brigid Schulte’s willingness to share her own experiences wrestling with these issues, also makes it a real page turner. Throughout the book she provides an excellent analysis of what contributes to our sense of overwhelm and how badly it is impacting us. However, she also inspires us with a number of im As someone who has been involved in these issues professionally and personally, I can honestly say this is the best book I have read on the topic. Not only does it provide cutting edge reporting, Brigid Schulte’s willingness to share her own experiences wrestling with these issues, also makes it a real page turner. Throughout the book she provides an excellent analysis of what contributes to our sense of overwhelm and how badly it is impacting us. However, she also inspires us with a number of important “bright spots” – including the description of a number of truly modern workplaces that aren’t just saying they support their employees to live whole lives, they are actually making it happen. Too often people feel stuck by the web of forces that make a more satisfying approach to work and life feel out of reach. Schulte’s book will help you better understand the challenges and inspire you that change is possible.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sheyna Galyan

    Absolutely phenomenal. This book could have been written just for me. Whether you work for pay or in the home (and especially if you work for pay from home), this book examines our subconscious acceptance of the unrelenting demands of the "ideal worker," the "ideal mother," what it means to be a parent, the importance of leisure time and play, and why so many of us are constantly overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout. There are many thoughtful ideas on how to break free from the overwhelm too. Absolutely phenomenal. This book could have been written just for me. Whether you work for pay or in the home (and especially if you work for pay from home), this book examines our subconscious acceptance of the unrelenting demands of the "ideal worker," the "ideal mother," what it means to be a parent, the importance of leisure time and play, and why so many of us are constantly overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout. There are many thoughtful ideas on how to break free from the overwhelm too.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary L

    I heard the author interviewed on NPR and ordered the book immediately. It sounded exactly like the analysis I wanted someone to make of the work, parenting, and personal life conflicts that lead to the overwhelming feeling that no matter what I do, it's never "enough." The book didn't disappoint - it's a clear-headed, well researched, and well-written look at American societal pressures that affect both women and men, and how we got to this point. Unfortunately, it's also somewhat depressing be I heard the author interviewed on NPR and ordered the book immediately. It sounded exactly like the analysis I wanted someone to make of the work, parenting, and personal life conflicts that lead to the overwhelming feeling that no matter what I do, it's never "enough." The book didn't disappoint - it's a clear-headed, well researched, and well-written look at American societal pressures that affect both women and men, and how we got to this point. Unfortunately, it's also somewhat depressing because the culture that creates the pressures isn't likely to change anytime soon.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    This is a book for a national conversation. A book that will make you question busyness and honor leisure. I've been telling everyone I know to read this book. Brigid Schulte weaves together historical fact, research data, personal narratives with her own quest to sleigh overwhelm in such a compelling way. I sometimes struggle with non-fiction books. This one I devoured. And will re-read. If you want more life in your life, read this. This is a book for a national conversation. A book that will make you question busyness and honor leisure. I've been telling everyone I know to read this book. Brigid Schulte weaves together historical fact, research data, personal narratives with her own quest to sleigh overwhelm in such a compelling way. I sometimes struggle with non-fiction books. This one I devoured. And will re-read. If you want more life in your life, read this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Robbins

    I read "Overwhelmed" a couple years ago and still apply its wisdom to my daily life. The concept of "chunking" alone has completely changed the way I go about both working and not working, and has improved my work-life balance. I will always be grateful to Brigid Shulte for changing my life with this book. I read "Overwhelmed" a couple years ago and still apply its wisdom to my daily life. The concept of "chunking" alone has completely changed the way I go about both working and not working, and has improved my work-life balance. I will always be grateful to Brigid Shulte for changing my life with this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Fantastic book that every "busy" person should read. It was a fascinating, thought provoking, and ultimately very helpful read. It is one I will keep on hand and reference back to as I feel myself getting caught up in the overwhelm of life. Fantastic book that every "busy" person should read. It was a fascinating, thought provoking, and ultimately very helpful read. It is one I will keep on hand and reference back to as I feel myself getting caught up in the overwhelm of life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Niver

    Overwhelmed helped me to think about my choices and priorities! I wrote about the book for the Jewish Journal for Passover! http://www.jewishjournal.com/wesaidgo... Giving up Bread or Internet for Passover? Finding Balance and Freedom on Tax Day For the last year and a half I have been living in Asia and eating rice. As I thought about Passover approaching, I figured giving up bread for eight days would not be meaningful as I really only eat rice in Thailand. I contemplated what could I give up tha Overwhelmed helped me to think about my choices and priorities! I wrote about the book for the Jewish Journal for Passover! http://www.jewishjournal.com/wesaidgo... Giving up Bread or Internet for Passover? Finding Balance and Freedom on Tax Day For the last year and a half I have been living in Asia and eating rice. As I thought about Passover approaching, I figured giving up bread for eight days would not be meaningful as I really only eat rice in Thailand. I contemplated what could I give up that would be a daily reminder that the Jews were slaves in Egypt and when we were forced to leave in a rush, we ended up with only matzah to eat. May all who are enslaved throughout the world, come to know freedom. May all who are free, appreciate the blessings of abundance. And may all of us dwell in the house of God and give thanks for our good fortune as we celebrate these rituals of Passover. (Opening Prayer from 30Minute Seder) The struggle to find freedom resonates with me. I have considered giving up the Internet for eight days and wondered about how to run We Said Go Travel and not be online at all. But we do not give up wheat for Passover we give up, leavened bread. So perhaps giving something up 100% is not right but rather choosing wisely and with intention is more meaningful. Overwhelmed The BookIn Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Schulte honestly discusses being a working mother and how her life is out of control with no leisure time–hers is a “frenetic family.” She is shocked when John Robinson states that she has thirty hours of leisure time a week and quests to understand where does her time go. As she researches the origins of leisure and who feels in control of their time, she goes to time conferences, meets wonderful Danish people with plenty of time and even learns to fly on the trapeze. Her explorations remind me of SCUBA Diving, where we say, “Plan your Dive and Dive your Plan.” First, she works to discover what are her priorities and then creates a way to live them. Everything on her to-do list does not get done but the meaningful connections she needs to feel joyous do. I want to live “a life of leisure [which] was the highest aim of a human being. True leisure, the Greeks believed, free from the drudgery of work, not only refreshed the soul but also opened it up.” For Schulte, “role overload” and “contaminated time” have to end in order to move forward and she is willing to make the literal and figurative leaps! The cult of being busy does not allow us to make a commitment to doing the things that feed us in work, love and play. Are you ready to get off the track of the “everydayathon?” The way off of the hamster wheel involves being able to answer “three questions that drive so much of the unending overwhelm: • How much is enough? • When is it good enough? • How will I know?” Schulte admits for herself it is a work in progress but she and her husband are looking at their parenting roles and household responsibilities and how they can support each other and their family in a way that works for everyone. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy argues that with the support of “cooperative breeding” and “alloparents…in human evolution, mother’s lives were more integrated between work and home.” Many women feel alone in their daily struggles; bringing back the village may allow time for each individual to become as self-actualized, self-efficacious and joyous as possible. Managing and having appropriate expectations can create change that feels like freedom. The Money Nerve by Robert WheelerFinding independence from being bound to technology or bread or our ideas requires thoughtful contemplation. This year as Passover begins, taxes are due. April 15 is a day of dread for so many Americans. My friends are worried about being audited, paying the bills and what do they owe for taxes. All of this concern about money is similar to the drama in Overwhelmed about not having any time to do what you want, Robert Wm. Wheeler in The Money Nerve explains that you have the money you need to do what you want. He can help you and be your guide to a life of meaning and money. As Wheeler states, “There is a lot of fear and shame surrounding money. We need to start admitting without shame or embarrassment that we may not have been taught how to handle money (or that we may not know all the answers). We need to bring our money issues out in the open and start changing our belief system about money.” Being honest about your choices allows you to be end your enslavement. Wheeler’s clients tell him: “I need a TV…or…I need to go to Hawaii.” But Wheeler reminds them: “They are wants, not needs. They want those things. They need oxygen; they don’t need the newest cell phone. Once you start to hear your own voice, you can begin to give yourself alternative choices, which will change your mental map.” With the Money Nerve, Wheeler helps you figure our your finances and how to make your dreams come true as well as get your taxes done on time without drama. When Wheeler says: “Your goal is to move forward as who you truly are. Live the life that you choose to live. To me, living a life without restraints and self-judgment— and living it with gratitude—is what makes everything worthwhile,” I want to run to his next workshop. The priorities we choose create our life and as Wheeler says, “make sure they match your desires.” There are 1,440 minutes in each day and 168 hours in a week, you can spend each moment only once. What will you pick? As far as changing your life, Schulte says: ““I’m not saying it’s not hard. But I am saying it’s like you’re wearing the ruby slippers. You have the power. You’ve had it all along.” When you click your heels three times, what will you wish for? I hope that this Passover week you find freedom from what enslaves you. Remember your life is the compilation of the choices and non-choices that you make. Choose wisely and with intention. Hag Sameach! Video: Maccabeats’ Passover Music About this Article: Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Education, is a passionate writer, educator, social media ninja, speaker and global citizen, who has traveled to over one hundred countries and six continents. She is the creative spark behind We Said Go Travel and just returned from filming in Puerto Rico with Richard Bangs and White Nile Media. http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/passove...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Hard to figure out exactly what I think of this book. It is well written, well researched, and was a great benefit to me to read. I myself am a mother, I do only work part-time, but I certainly feel overwhelmed on a daily basis and struggle to figure out just what my priorities should be. Schulte sets out to figure out why she is so harried and overwhelmed and what can be done about it. She interviews time researchers, leisure researchers, people who study work and family dynamics, goes to confe Hard to figure out exactly what I think of this book. It is well written, well researched, and was a great benefit to me to read. I myself am a mother, I do only work part-time, but I certainly feel overwhelmed on a daily basis and struggle to figure out just what my priorities should be. Schulte sets out to figure out why she is so harried and overwhelmed and what can be done about it. She interviews time researchers, leisure researchers, people who study work and family dynamics, goes to conferences, to Denmark, flies on a trapeze :-) all to figure out how to have a better, more balanced life. She first analyzes the problem--working women work long hours, still do nearly all the housework and child care, have no time to themselves--of course we all feel like we are on superspeed treadmills with no way off. She then investigates how work environments could support family life better--for women AND men--and posits we should require workplaces to have more family-friendly policies. She especially goes after this idea in our heads of the "ideal worker" who works all the time, as being the only valuable way to work, and investigates how flextime, shorter bursts of work, and not having to worry about family would help us all. She visits some very interesting workplaces! But they are all upper middle class sorts of places. No diners or factory floors. Or libraries. :-) I guess she can't do everything, but really, less-educated, lower-income mothers have the SAME problems--just with very little chance of "flextime" and less money. Then she takes on family structure--our visions of the "ideal mother", how men just aren't picking up more of the responsibilities, and what we can do about it. Then she takes on mothering--over- or "helicopter" mothering--the reasons why we spend more time and effort on our kids now than our own moms or grandmothers did. Does all this mothering produce better kids? Then she takes on women and leisure time and play, pointing out how most of us don't really even know how or give ourselves permission, what this costs us, and what we might be able to do about it. (Loved this, just no way am I going trapezing. LOL) I cheered loudly at points in this book. Families are so important that I do believe we'd be much better off if societies treasured and supported them. Fathers SHOULD be very involved in child care and all the work that goes into a home. I'd love it if workplaces were better for both parents. I want women to take time for themselves, to nurture themselves and grow. I think it's ridiculous we all spend so much time trying to measure up to some sort of weird cultural ideal that we can't seem to focus on what really needs to happen to help families and children. BUT. Although the author talks about allowing women choices, about stopping the "mommy wars", she doesn't really mean it. She at the very bottom assumes that all good educated intelligent women OUGHT to work. She even talks about workplaces should make themselves more attractive to women---BECAUSE THEY ARE "LOSING" women who have babies who decide to stay home. As if that is some sort of cultural tragedy. She wants us to have totally free, very high-quality universal child care like she saw in Europe---again, assuming all parents would want that. Well, I don't. I didn't. I work now, but I made great sacrifices to stay home while my children were young. Because I WANTED to. Because childhood is short and fleeting and I already don't have back the way a newly bathed baby smells when you just finish giving it a bath. Because I wanted to be there to see the first step. The first words. The first reading. The first bike ride. Yes, I want women to have the freedom to work if they want--but I DO believe that the ideal family situation is a parent at home at least while the children are young. And I don't see why we should raise taxes to the very high rates that universal child care would require, and make life harder and more expensive for women that DO want to stay home, to subsidize women who want to work. Working is a choice. It is a choice for each woman, for each family---but I see no reason to pretend it is a choice with NO consequences. I shouldn't have to live on even less while living in a single-income home to make life easier for my neighbor who works. I don't want to ignite mommy wars either--but she sure isn't doing so much for me besides dismissing me, my choices, and the value of my own work. (The author once mentioned homeschooling, but with a kind of horror, while discussing helicopter parenting--as if they were somehow the same thing.) Working while raising children is going to be harder in some ways. (Not that staying home with several small children is a cakewalk in a sunny meadow all the time.) We give up certain things either way. I noticed the author wanted all Americans to make the working mom's life easier---but she didn't really have anything to make the stay at home mom's life much easier. She in fact only seemed to interview one--and that one was "special" and seemed to earn her respect because she ran for school board and won. (That must have been like enough to a "real" job.) Anyway, the book was a good read and a valuable contribution. I hope it sparks some debate, some discussion, and ultimately some ways to support families. ALL of them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cristine Mermaid

    Excellent book that discusses how utterly ridiculous it is that women feel like they have to be the ideal employee AND this mythical ideal mother AND still responsible for the cleaning/cooking/menial chores related to children/households/busy of living. I have never felt this way although I do very strongly see how much our culture expects this unrealistic , self-sacrificial type of mother that completely gives up everything related to an identity or passions of her own. It makes me angry and fr Excellent book that discusses how utterly ridiculous it is that women feel like they have to be the ideal employee AND this mythical ideal mother AND still responsible for the cleaning/cooking/menial chores related to children/households/busy of living. I have never felt this way although I do very strongly see how much our culture expects this unrealistic , self-sacrificial type of mother that completely gives up everything related to an identity or passions of her own. It makes me angry and frustrated when I see it, when it's assumed that because I am a woman that I want to do dishes and vacuum. I thought it was good that she focused so much on how women shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to have any leisure time or spend time on themselves but I'm also appalled that women feel guilty for such a thing. Statistics show that women feel guilty for working and for not working and that they are shamed and criticized either way, and the book discusses what this does to the psyche. I can't relate to this idea of feeling like I should do all of the dull tedious mundane chores simply because I am a woman. That seems to be a prevalent theme in this book and something I've never internalized. My husband travels so I frequently have to do it all myself but if you have a partner that you actually live with and they are on the couch watching tv while you are scrubbing floors, I don't get that, why would that be acceptable to anyone? The author seemed to assume that people have a lot more control over their work hours than anyone I know does. This idea that you can simply change your hours to accommodate your children's schedule, etc, are not applicable to the average worker in American. But I really did agree with and find her discussion of how American culture needs to catch up with family-friendly cultures to be helpful and interesting and that alone was enough for me to give the book four stars. She had a lot of examples of different countries and unique companies here in the US and how they help families to have a better work-life balance and it was inspiring and hopeful. Also , she discusses a lot of paid help and vacations and things as though this is the norm. It's not. The percentage of people who can afford these things is actually quite low but she talks about them as though it's the 'usual'. It certainly would be nice if it were but to be able to hire out having your children driven around and all of your housework and errands isn't realistic for the vast majority of people . Her take away is essentially to not feel like you have to be this ideal mom who is constantly planning amazing birthdays for the children and centering your life around their activities and I agree with this. She also makes the point several times that women shouldn't be taking the full burden of the grunt work at home upon themselves. This should be a 'duh' by this point but apparently it bears repeating. I completely agree with her that this idea that everything we do outside of work should be child-centric is ridiculous and that pursuing our own outlets is actually quite healthy. She discusses the many problems with child care here in the US and it was distressing and sad to see how we fared next to other countries especially when we are so capable here because the military runs a child care that is highly respected. My biggest take-away was the concept of "invisible work", how mentally draining and time-consuming and unappreciated it is... and the fact it's mostly done by women. She had excellent ideas about it that I will implement. Overall , excellent, thought provoking book. I will add that she didn't really talk about, but I think it's important to consider how your chosen career will work with parenthood as well as that of your partner. People assume it will work out...until it doesn't

  30. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Do you ever feel as if there are not enough minutes in the day? Is your to-do list staring at you, undone? Does time seem to be accelerating, and yet there is never enough of it? These are some of the experiences that led Brigid Schulte to look into why we all feel so overwhelmed by our lives. It doesn't seem to matter whether we live in the city or the country, in the U.S. or another country, although it does seem to make a difference whether we are male or female and whether we are parents. Pa Do you ever feel as if there are not enough minutes in the day? Is your to-do list staring at you, undone? Does time seem to be accelerating, and yet there is never enough of it? These are some of the experiences that led Brigid Schulte to look into why we all feel so overwhelmed by our lives. It doesn't seem to matter whether we live in the city or the country, in the U.S. or another country, although it does seem to make a difference whether we are male or female and whether we are parents. Part memoir, part journalistic exploration, this book delves into the psychological, social, cultural, physiological, and historical reasons why we never seem to feel we have enough time. Gender issues play a role, as do deeply ingrained attitudes about motherhood and work. Schulte has done her homework (at one point she explores how her own desire to produce a "perfect" book has driven her to feel overwhelmed by the experience), providing copious notes and references. At times I found myself incredulous and angry, as when I read the chapter "A Tale of Two Pats," in which I discovered that in the 1970s, conservative Pat Buchanan "orchestrated a campaign that overrode Congress, ignored polls showing strong public support, and so utterly obliterated a bill that would have created a high-quality universal child-care system in America that in forty years, the very idea has never surfaced for discussion again. Ever." Luckily, Schulte provides hope along with her dire analyses of where we have gone astray. Each chapter ends with a "Bright Spot" that offers hopeful developments or ideas for improving things, either personally or as a culture. And here, I suppose, the book almost expands to encompass self-help. It motivated me to decide to incorporate more play into my life--something I hadn't even realized I was missing until I read the book's final section. All in all, this is a thorough and illuminating exploration of something that seems to plague just about every modern human, with some good guidance for alleviating the problem.

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