Theoretically, we still have the same 24 hours in a day our grandparents and their grandparents had. But it sure doesn’t feel like it. We’re “busy, busy, busy,” as the late, great Kurt Vonnegut Jr., wrote.
A city such as Washington is filled with strivers and striving, filling every conceivable moment with constructive, career-related activity. But that sense of compressed time is not just the purview of places like Washington. People have their hair on fire in Fargo, N.D., too, as Brigid Schulte tells it in her new book “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.” The problem, she writes, is spreading as we divvy up our days into a thousand pieces.
So what’s a person to do if they’d like to live a fulfilling life but still feel like they have enough time to shower in the morning and read the occasional book? Schulte will discuss just that, and her book and the research and, ahem, time that went into it on Wednesday at the latest Roll Call Book Club.
Some of the more eye-opening nuggets from Schulte’s book include studies that show that being pressed for time can actually make us dumber, by shrinking the prefrontal cortex of our brain; that Pat Buchanan, after helping sink a universal child care bill while in the Nixon White House, never had kids, and that “rough-and-tumble play” can actually make us smarter. She also delves into why — far from there being something rotten in the state of Denmark — the Danes are the happiest people on the planet.
One big note of appreciation for the book is its embrace of the finite nature of our lives. This isn’t always the cheeriest of topics, and you could probably hear book agents and publicists thinking to themselves, “can’t she lay off the we’re-all-going-to-die stuff?” — but it’s a necessary, bracing reminder of what’s a stake in our busy-busy-business.
“Whey we die, the e-mail in-box will still be full. The to-do list will still be there. But you won’t,” Schulte quotes Terry Monaghan, a time management and organizational expert, as telling a group of people looking to find a way out of what Schulte dubs “The Overwhelm.”
Things get under way at 6 p.m. and will run until about 7:30 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Complimentary copies of the book will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and Schulte will be on hand to sign them. Heck, we’ll even feed you and provide something to drink. To register, go to roll.cl/schultebookclub .