Guest Post: Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time

overwhelmed_book-250x405In the search to juggle work and life, fortune smiled upon me when I met Northern Virginia-based Brigid Schulte – a Washington Post journalist writing about work-life issues and poverty. As a fellow mother, worker, and scrambler, Brigid has shared with me over the last four years just a glimpse of what it takes to tell an incredibly important story of our time – the story of our collective and individual overwhelm.

I’m so proud to share her excitement in releasing the fruits of her labor, her new book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time. Released last week, “Overwhelmed is both a map of the stresses that have ripped our leisure to shreds and a blueprint for how to put the pieces back together. What Brigid Schulte offers us is a revelatory, at times hilarious, and at heart optimistic view of how we can begin to find time for the things that matter most and live more fulfilled lives [BrigidSchulte.com].” I’m also honored to have shared stories to contribute to her research, and be part of the voice advocating for change in our lifestyles as parents, women, and Americans.

Brigid shared with me the inside scoop on her brilliant new book. Following is a guest post for So Very Vienna readers:

My aim in writing my book about time pressure and modern life, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time is to change the way we think about how we work, love and play. The time is ripe to change the national conversation, as well as the ones we have over the back fence or in the grocery store. Finding time for life is more than a “mommy issue,” and we’ve ignored the increasing demands on our time at both work and at home – forget play! – trying to juggle it all at our peril.

 Overwhelmed is, in many ways, an accidental book, and surely friends who knew me growing up – and waited as I burst into places late, trailing shoes and socks or a toothbrush – guffawed heartily when they heard I was working on a book about time. When I lived in Japan working as an English teacher and travelled throughout Asia, my friend, Meg, stole my watch one night and set it 10 minutes ahead so we wouldn’t keep missing our trains.

 This book all started with a phone call. I’ve been a journalist and writer all my life, and a reporter for the Washington Post since 1999. A few years ago, I was part of a group of journalists at the Washington Post asked to research why fewer and fewer women under the age of 50 were reading the print newspaper. The journalists, all of us women, most of us caretakers of some kind – mothers, guardians for nieces and nephews, daughters of aging parents – figured women were just too busy. After all, we sometimes found it hard to find the uninterrupted time to read the very newspaper we worked for in the swirl of morning craziness.

My assignment was to find the time study data to prove how busy women are. Knowing nothing about time research, I googled, “busy women time” and up popped someone by the name of John Robinson, one of the first and most eminent time-use researchers in the world. I called him up, expecting to find easy validation. Instead, he told me women like me had 30 hours of leisure time every week. I told him he was nuts. And after he challenged me to keep a time diary and found 27 hours of what he called leisure, and I called bits and scraps of crappy time, I decided to take this journey to understand why my life felt overwhelming and what I could do about it. And thus the journey began.

Throughout researching the book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time, I ask two questions: Why are things the way they are, and how can they be better? As a reporter, I sought out real world Bright Spots where hopeful change is already underway – and I found them!

Brigid’s book contributes to the discussion of pressures in today’s working society, in an approach all her own. Since I just finished reading Maxed Out, I’m loving how Brigid’s work tells a different slice of the story.

Grab a copy of her book and join the conversation about how to transform our lives to make time for what matters in life:

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