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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,643 ratings  ·  839 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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Katrine Austin probably both, I've been trying to take more me time, and more down time of late, and I have friends looking askance wondering if I'm ok. our entire s…moreprobably both, I've been trying to take more me time, and more down time of late, and I have friends looking askance wondering if I'm ok. our entire society is just too busy!(less)
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Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-fiction, audio
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
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
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
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
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
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
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.
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 M
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Laurian Vega
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 17, 2017 added it
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
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Manik Sukoco
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Sheyna Galyan
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mary L
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Alexandra Robbins
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Lisa Niver
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspiration
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
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Cristine Mermaid
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
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
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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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.

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
42 likes · 19 comments
“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?” 7 likes
“If we don’t feel like we have leisure, Robinson maintains, it’s entirely our own fault. “Time is a smokescreen. And it’s a convenient excuse,” he’d told me. “Saying, ‘I don’t have time,’ is just another way of saying, ‘I’d rather do something else.” 6 likes
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