Three Reasons We Can’t Be Trusted to Set Our Own Work Schedules, and What to Do About It

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Media Outlet: Slate

Brigid Schulte has the flexibility to set her own schedule. So why is she working on Sunday? It has something to do with the “planning fallacy.” Read more on the Better Life Lab Channel on Slate.

I am in the enviable position of pretty much setting my own schedule as the director of the work-life program at a think tank. I’ve read the research showing flexible work eases work-life conflict and can enhance performance, so I’ve made flexible work the default for my team as well. We have deadlines and high standards everyone is expected to meet. But where, when, and how you do that is up to you.

So why am I working on Sunday?

It’s not like I didn’t work long and hard from Monday to Friday. And while I like my work, I’m more than a little ticked off at myself that, instead of enjoying a beautiful fall day with my family, I’ll either be in my office typing away, or if I take time to go outside, I’ll feel a familiar tug of guilt that I should be back in front of the computer. I’m keenly aware of the irony of the fact that I work on work-life balance and can’t stop working. And I also know that I’m not alone: Most studies show one reason why knowledge workers with flexible schedules are more productive is because they actually put in longer hours than those with strict schedules.


Brigid Schulte is the director of the Better Life Lab at New America. Schulte is an award-winning journalist and author, who writes widely for publications including the Washington Post, Slate, Time,  the Guardian, and others. Her book on time pressure, gender roles and modern life, Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time, was a New York Times bestseller.