Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time
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.
iBooks has chosen Overwhelmed as one of the Best Books of March!
Amazon has also chosen Overwhelmed as a Best Book of the Month
The Telegraph - It’s not Much Pleasure Being a Queen of Leisure
Deborah Kalb - Q&A with author Brigid Schulte
Redbook magazine, March 2014
Praise for Overwhelmed
“Overwhelmed is a superb report from the front lines of the sputtering gender revolution. Brigid Schulte takes up the perennial problem of women’s ‘second shift’ with fresh energy and fascinating new data, effortlessly blending academic findings and mothers’ lived experiences, including her own often hilarious attempts to be both the perfect parent and a successful full-time journalist. Before you embark on parenthood, before you volunteer to make cupcakes for a school party or stay up late to finish a fourth grader’s science project—and definitely before you pick up another copy of Martha Stewart Living—read this book!” –Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
“Schulte’s effective time-management ideas will be helpful in stamping out ambivalence and will empower readers to reclaim wasted moments, so life becomes a joyful experience rather than a mad dash from one task to the next. An eye-opening analysis of today's hectic lifestyles coupled with valuable practical advice on how to make better use of each day.” –Kirkus Review
“Schulte takes a purely practical and secular approach to a question that philosophers and spiritual teachers have debated for centuries—how to find meaningful work, connection, and joy—but her research is thorough and her conclusions fascinating, her personal narrative is charmingly honest, and the stakes are high: the “good life” pays off in “sustainable living, healthy populations, happy families, good business, [and] sound economies.”” –Publisher's Weekly - Starred Review
“Reflecting on her meticulous research, searching her feelings, and renegotiating the division of emotional labor with her husband, Tom, Brigid Schulte offers us a well-written and timely book, both witty and wise.” –Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home
“Beautifully written, with searing facts, engaging stories, illuminating history, and wry personal observations. A must-read by a truly perceptive author!” –John de Graaf, editor of Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America
“Why is life so insanely busy? What happened to ‘leisure’ time? Tired of the modern hamster wheel, Brigid Schulte set out to find a better way to live. Her voice is delightful, her findings surprising and hopeful. Overwhelmed is a passionate, funny, very human book that reads like a detective story.” –William Powers, author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
“Overwhelmed is a time management book that’s not just about how to be more productive and effective—it’s about the broad and fascinating role time plays in our emotional satisfaction, our physical health, and even our notions of gender equality. The more overwhelmed you feel, the more crucial it is to take the time to read this important book.” –Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
“Every parent, every caregiver, every person who feels besieged by permanent busyness, must read this book. A new wave of research, experience, and insight is challenging deep assumptions about why we have to live and work the way we do. Overwhelmed is a wake-up call and an exhilarating prescription for change.” –Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation and author of Why Women Still Can’t Have It All