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- Publié sur Amazon.com
The impetus of this book is the “frenetic family”, a couple raising young children while both spouses work outside the home; trying to juggle jobs, child rearing, house chores, social commitments, intimate time and leisure. But is is much more. It is a treatise about our culture. A “Quo Vadis” to our society ?
Brigid Schulte, a Pulitzer prize winner staff writer for The Washington Post, investigates why “busyness” has become so pervasive in our lives; when “I am busier than thou” is the lauded ethos. Words like “constantly on the run”, crazy”, “way too fast”, “can’t find the time”, “hectic” and multitasking” have become commonplace in conversation. But more of the burden seems to fall on women who try to “have it all”, a career while being a homemaker, a wife and a mother; over 70 percent of American mothers work. Schulte asks, “What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”
In her quest, Schulte called on anthropologists, managers, neuroscientists, time analysts and sociologists. She interviewed hundreds of working parents and travelled to European countries to get answers.
In America, the best worker is the one able to multitask and works faster and longer; the most successful, smartest and competent employee has the most facetime, is first to show up and the last to leave, “Those without a lot of personal commitments.” Often the result is paucity of leisure time, even burnout and acedia (a state of restlessness and inability to work or concentrate). Free time is perceived differently for men and women. = No spoilers here=
“Leisure has been trivialized — something only silly girls want, to have time to shop and gossip.” (B. Hunnicutt). It is “that place in which we realize our humanity.” (Univ. of Iowa). The irony is it was predicted that in the 21st century we would all have lots of leisure time. During the 1950s, politicians and economists boasted that by the end of the century, Americans would work only 22 hours a week, six months a year, and even retire before age 40. The economist John Maynard Keynes (1983-1946) envisioned a 15-hour work week for us to enjoy “the hour and the day virtuously and well.” Even Eisenhower optimistically averred that “leisure . . . will be abundant, so that all can develop the life of the spirit, of reflection, of religion, of the arts, of the full realization of the good things of the world.”
But this utopia was not to be; expenses shot up and wages stagnated. Jobs migrated overseas, manufacturing has become less mechanical and more automated, and technical and scientific knowledge-based professions are most in demand. Also, we work “to able to buy stuff”; in 2011 American consumers spent $1.2 trillion, or 11.2% of all consumer spending, on unnecessary stuff (compared to 4% in 1959).
The author discovered a “raft of new research” that proved “better work gets done when workers have more control over and predictability about their time and work flow,” and that employees “are more engaged, productive, and innovative when they have full lives at home and are refreshed with regular time off.” Schulte cites several European models and has suggestions for the ideal work environment. Also, found that couples who develop an equitable division of house chores and childcare, while having meaningful paid work, have more time for leisure and recreation.
According to Pythagoras, “Time is the soul of this world.”
The reader will acquire new phrases, “time confetti”, “contaminated time”, “task density” and “gender divergence” but may be overwhelmed (pun intended) by the exhaustive research and over layering of information. Although written from a woman's viewpoint, it is a trove of information about time management, gender work models and the benefits of leisure that would be of interest to most adults of both sexes.