Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love & Play when no one has the Time

I regularly read books on ‘parenting’. In fact it has become a bit of an obsession! I am fascinated to find out what techniques other experts have discovered, what advice they give and what the latest research shows. I thought it would be helpful every now and then to share some ineresting things I have learnt from my reading so you don’t necessarily have to go away and read the whole book!

I get so many questions from parents I meet in corporates about how to balance/merge work and family life so the title of this book was very enticing.

Below is a summary of some of my favourite take aways from the book

Firstly, the point is raised that people tend to exaggerate how busy they are and saying “I don’t have time” can be another way of saying “I’d rather do something else”. Busyness has become a sign of high social status.

Our perceptions of time and how we spend it can be powerfully wrong.  However our perception is our reality.

Studies have consistently found that those who feel the most crunched for time are women.

Psychologist Erik Erikson said

“The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms: work, love and play.”


‘Contaminated’ time is when you are overloaded by too many roles, namely work and family. Your brain is full of different demands.  It’s the constant switching of roles that creates the feeling of time pressure and we need to find ‘time serenity’. Contaminated time saps mental energy and makes us feel stressed.


Research shows that work is more productive when employees have more control and predictability around their time and workflow. If you have time for your life, you are more productive for a business. Performance, not hours should be measured. In Denmark you get a lot of status for what you do in your leisure time. If you are working long hours, that actually suggests you are doing something wrong and being inefficient.


Studies show that in families where both partners share work, child care and household duties, they are the most satisfying. Human happiness is built on meaningful connections with other humans so take care of yourselves and be mindful of how you spend your time, how you to talk to each other, build support networks and savour moments of connection.


Making time for play, saves your soul. Play enables us to improvise, imagine, innovate, learn, solve problems, and be open, curious, resilient and happy. Very few women engage in pure play for its own sake. True leisure is free from obligation and being really present. Play is also a state of mind: feeling light and keeping your brain flexible.

Tips on managing time:

  • Time flow is when you are truly engaged in something and lose track of time altogether. You can do this when you have a sense of choice and control over what you are using your time for and when you can pursue things that are meaningful to you.


  • You can’t manage time but you can manage the activities you choose to do in it. Work out what’s important and carve out firm boundaries for uninterrupted time at work and home or for time to recharge. How much is enough? When is it good enough?


  • Chunk your time to minimise the multi-tasking.


  • Pulse so you alternate between periods of intense work and time for rest and renewal


  • If you procrastinate and avoid a task set a timer so you can stay focused on an unpleasant task for a short period.


  • Breaks inspire creativity.


  • Do a brain dump and just write down all your thoughts, worries and things you need to do. Far better to have this down on paper than in your head!

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