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

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,923 ratings  ·  382 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
85th out of 85 books — 60 voters


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Community Reviews

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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 ...more
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
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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
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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.
Denis Vukosav
‘Overwhelmed’ written by Brigid Schulte is an interesting work backed by extensive research on the subject of how much fast pace and stress that we are constantly exposed leaves us time to rest and if is out there today something at all that we can call leisure.

Can we even define our spare time? Is it when we do not do anything, spending time in leisure and solicitation, or the time that we spend to feel better, to do something that makes us happy, what not one pushes us to do? According to the
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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
...more
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
...more
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
...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
Lisa Rajna
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...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.
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
Tiffany
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
Sergei_kalinin
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
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Eileen
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
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
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Ann
Good read, and it really highlights the plight of working women, especially mothers - though it does address "super workers" of all sexes and how driven everyone is today. Lots of information and some help on how to handle it. You cannot manage time...ever. You can manage what you DO with your time once you realize that there is only so much time and that even if you drop dead right now the emails will continue to ping, the to-do list will still have un-done items, etc. So, look at your calendar ...more
Laurian
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
...more
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
...more
Ernest
Everyone is busy. Or at least everyone claims to be busy and overwhelmed. When busy journalist Brigid Schulte meets a sociologist who studies time and tells her he had 30 leisure hours each week, this sparks off an investigation into the nature of being busy, about the history of work and its divide between men and women, the current research on time and free time and much more.

Part personal story and part discussion on the current research on work, leisure and time, this was a thorough yet stil
...more
Cat
This is one of those books like All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood that makes the white-collar working parent nod, laugh, and/or rend and nash teeth in recognition and agreement. Schulte does a great job outlining the time pressures and feeling of "time contamination" (worrying about six different things from various areas of life at all time) endemic to the middle-class professional working mom. She weaves together the work of some fascinating specialists, from time experts to ...more
Jess
I heard Brigid's interview on the radio and decided this book could have useful information for anyone. It does-read the bulleted appendix and find a few nuggets. But it does not come across as useful to anyone. Generally, I am not living in "the overwhelm," so maybe my first problem was that I couldn't completely see myself in the book.

I was disappointed with the disjointed narrative, in part because the thesis seemed to change. So much of this book is about the singular condition of working m
...more
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 ...more
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.
Linda
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
...more
Astin
I'm so glad this book found me! I heard the author's interview on NPR when I was leaving work en route to a book club evening with girlfriends, and feeling guilty about not heading home to be with my kids. When I arrived, everybody else had heard the same interview, and we all had the same reaction - Wow...made for us! On top of this, the next day, I received an email from my alma mater, the University of Portland, stating that the author was ALSO a UP grad, and was giving a talk there.
So...I at
...more
Mary Westbrook
I usually am wary of "books like this," whatever that means, by I liked this book and drew a lot of insight from it. I appreciated the combination of deep reporting and first-person candor, along with the fact that Schulte writes in terms of parenthood, rather than motherhood. It's hard to find books that provide both a big-picture perspective on some of the structural inequalities in place AND practical tips on how to live a life that's less harried. This does both. Some of the information (and ...more
Alexis
I've read or have seen several books in the same vein (women, work life balance, parenting), so Schulte is trodding popular territory here. They've all come out at around the same time, though, so I can't fault her for a bandwagon. (This book was chosen as part of a community reading program at my public library, which is partly why I read it.)

The diagnosis is typical, but it's well researched: the examples are good and she uses other countries as a contrast without idealizing them (the Danes wi
...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...
Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family, and Life

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“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
“Busyness is now the social norm that people feel they must conform to, Burnett says, or risk being outcasts.” 1 likes
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