Work-Life (Im)Balance

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Media Outlet: Beyond

Brigid Schulte was covered in Case Western Reserve University's Beyond about work-life balance:

Brigid Schulte's days were a frenetic dash from one to-do to the next.
She worked a stressful, deadline-driven job as a Washington Post journalist, while struggling to keep up with her two children’s schedules of soccer practices, field trips, dance lessons and doctor’s appointments. Her husband, NPR reporter Tom Bowman, was frequently on assignments that took him to Iraq or Afghanistan for months at a time. Schulte was underslept, perpetually behind, and living every day in a state of what she calls “the overwhelm.”
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So when the newspaper assigned her to a working group to study how to get more women to read the newspaper, she began studying the ways women like herself spent their time. Her research led her to a University of Maryland expert who studies time use, who encouraged her to begin using a time journal herself. She spent a year documenting days packed with what she calls “time confetti”—little snatches of time jumbled together in a multitasking mess.
Looking at her life in black-and-white in the Moleskine journals she used for a time journal made her decide to take this topic beyond just internal working group research. That University of Maryland expert insisted that she and other similar working mothers average 30 hours a week of leisure time, a claim she set out to disprove in an article she wrote for Washington Post Magazine.
She was so bowled over by the reader response that she decided to write the 2014 book Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. She is now on staff at the think tank New America, serving as director of its Breadwinning & Caregiving Program and the Good Life Initiative. She now spends her days studying the topic of work-life balance and advocating for policies that encourage the kind of balance that she found so elusive.
“It’s not an individual issue. It’s not like one family who can’t figure it out. It isn’t one person who is overwhelmed,” Schulte says. “This is a systemic issue … all of our workplace policies, our government policies, our social policies and a large part of our cultural expectations and attitudes are still very stuck in a nostalgic time that didn’t really exist for a lot of people in the 1950s.”

In the News:

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.