18 facts about work, play and life from "Overwhelmed"

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 21, 2014 6:29 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Brigid Schulte's best-selling book "Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time", delves into a myriad of factors that have left many feeling like they  are constantly rushing from work to taking care of kids and then back to work  to housework in a never-ending cycle that leaves little time to relax.

Throughout the book, Schulte illustrates the foundations of the problem with a plethora of facts from studies and research. (Hear Schulte's  interview about the book as part of WITF's Transforming Health initiative). Some of them may reshape how you might think about time management, and what is possible:

1) In one country, 57% of parents worried they didn't spend enough sleep, nearly half felt "trapped," and 46% say they had no time for leisure. It's not America, but Australia.

2) 32% of American single mothers working in professional jobs report working more than 50 hours a week.

3) Leisure time for Italian men totals nearly 90 minutes more every day compared to Italian women.

4) The urge to feel like you're part of a group is so strong that in one experiment, the brain actually changed what subjects saw.

5) As Vice President, Richard M. Nixon once predicted Americans would someday work just 22 hours a week.


6) Until 1923, steel workers had to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week

7) Compare today's average high school kid to the average psychiatry patient in the 1950's, and there is virtually no difference in anxiety levels.

8) Both mothers and fathers spend twice as much time multitasking as they did in 1975 (now up to more than half of their waking hours).


9) Mothers' pay drops after the birth of each child, averaging a 15% decline for low-wage workers to a 4% slide for those in high-wage jobs. 

10) 35 of the 100 companies ranked in the 2012 Working Mother Best Companies have faced lawsuits over family responsibilities discrimination, including 12 sued more than once, according to Cynthia Calvert, cofounder of the Project for Attorney Retention.

11) The United States, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland are the only countries of the 167 surveyed that don't require paid parental leave. Even Saudi Arabia, where the law bars women from driving, offers paid parental leave.

12) In productivity per hours worked, the United States lags behind Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and others.

13) Having children has a big impact on the share of housework - according to one study, woman with children saw their share of housework increase three times compared to their husband's.


14) Growing up, remember those games out on the streets, making up whatever came to mind? Kids just don't have them anymore. Only 6 percent between ages nine and 13 play outside on their own in a typical week.

15) American mothers get a whopping 36 minutes a day to themselves, on average.

16) Ahh, the life: it's against European law to work more than 48 hours a week.

17) The Danish economy, by many measures, is just slightly below the United States, despite its work rules and culture. In fact, its nearly as productive as the US, when hours worked are factored in.

18) It's the safety, stupid: a study of medical interns working long hours found they made 36% more potentially serious errors than those working shorter shifts.

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