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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,994 ratings  ·  549 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published March 11th 2014 by Sarah Crichton Books
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The Tiger's Wife by Téa ObrehtAn Untamed State by Roxane GayOverwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
favorite books 4eva
3rd out of 3 books — 2 voters
Bossypants by Tina FeyOpen by Andre AgassiThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David MitchellThe Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha MukherjeeLast Call by Daniel Okrent
From Fresh Air
86th out of 86 books — 63 voters

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Community Reviews

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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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
Ali Murphy
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
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
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 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
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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.
Lisa Niver
Overwhelmed helped me to think about my choices and priorities! I wrote about the book for the Jewish Journal for Passover!

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
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.
As other reviewers have noted, OVERWHELMED is the most interested in exploring the time constraints and impossible expectations facing parents, and, in particular, working mothers. Because I AM a working mother, there was a lot here for me to respond to, and it's a good book if you need to reassure yourself that maybe you're not the only person feeling alllll the feelings, like that you have to EARN your leisure time, when in fact, it is the thing that keeps your brain from SHRINKING. (Shrinking ...more
Знаете первую заповедь психотерапевта, работающего с пациентом, страдающим острым психозом? Это правило: признавайте реальность пациента, какой бы бредовой она не была! Если он утверждает, что вас окружают зеленые человечки, то разумнее будет сказать: "Ой, какие миленькие!" :)))

Суть этой преамбулы: если чье-то сознание захвачено навязчивой идеей разной степени бредовости, то, если мы хотим, чтобы диалог вообще состоялся, идею эту надо признать. Хотя бы частично. Хотя бы понарошку :)

Теперь о кн
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.

This was a wonderfully RICH book, much more nuanced and finely researched than one might expect from the NPR book interview--chock full of really good reporting and conversational stories. The NPR interview made me less than excited (standard narrative of women having it tough, and not having no answers in sight--I feel like it might have been the interviewer's fault on that, actually) , but the book far surpassed. While it WAS a bit heavy on the "choose what's right for you" content, which some ...more
At first, I found this book quite overwhelming (har har). The author goes into tremendous detail about time management and how working parents spend their precious time, and it was pretty exhausting -- until she gets into the later chapters and starts providing example after example of ways people have made professional situations work for them.

It made me get over that "I don't deserve this" imposter syndrome and remind myself that other people have advocated for themselves and their families'
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.
Heard an interview on NPR in early 2014, forgot the gist, but remembered that I wanted to read the book. Expected a self-help guide and was pleasantly surprised to read a thoroughly researched book on work in the USA. If you manage people you should read it. If you work, you should read it. If you are a mom you probably want to read so I won't bother telling you that you should. If you are planning to have kids or work at a job in the US you should read it.
Favorite take-aways:
The play section
Jessica Leight
This was an engaging and interesting book, but the opposite of innovative. It repeated many points about time allocation, division of responsibilities within families, and work/life balance challenges that have been explored ad infinitum in magazine articles, blogs and other books. In particular, this volume seemed remarkably similar to Judith Warner's book Perfect Madness, with the caveat that I read Perfect Madness some years ago. I enjoyed it and I found Schulte to be a skilled writer, but lo ...more
Mrs. Shaffer
Reading this has changed my outlook on time, both my own time, and others'. My biggest take-aways were:

1) Time is one's most precious commodity, so you shouldn't let anyone spend yours for you.

2) The United States is WAY behind most of the rest of the world when it comes to work/family balance, especially regarding parental leave and flexible workplaces.

3) If it's really important to me to actually do something, I need to put it on my calendar.

4) Put EVERYTHING on my to-do list, so rememberin
Courtney Hogan
I liked the beginning and the end, but it did sort of lag a little bit in the middle, or maybe I just got more overwhelmed at work and that's why it took me longer to get through some sections?

Anyway, it did seem really well-researched and well-written, and I think Brigid Schulte comes across as a likeable and honest person. (She's a reporter for the Washington Post). Can't say that I have as much on my plate as she does-- she's much more accomplished than I am and has children, which I do not,
Thanks again, Carolyn Obel-Omia for recommending this book. This non-fiction book was written by a journalist who sets out to learn more about why Americans seem to be overwhelmed at work, home, at play (or lack there of) and with love. The author interviews and collects data from sociologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, and working parents. She travels to see first hand how others deal with the stressors of life and uses her own hectic life with working and children and love to highlight ...more
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Brigid Schulte is an award-winning journalist for the Washington Post and Washington Post magazine. She was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize. She is also a fellow at the New America Foundation. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband and two children. She grew up in Oregon and spent summers in Wyoming, where she did not feel overwhelmed.
More about Brigid Schulte...

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“Busyness is now the social norm that people feel they must conform to, Burnett says, or risk being outcasts.” 4 likes
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?” 4 likes
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