more evidence that people giving advice on managing work and family don’t understand how busy i am

From a NY Times piece that claims a shared workspace will keep family members on the same page:

Take a large, old frame from a flea market or your attic, cut a corkboard to size, cover it with fabric and place it in the frame. Tack pieces of ribbon on the corkboard to create separate areas for each family member, or do individual frames for each person.

Personalize a dry-erase board the same way — put it in an old frame or place pieces of wood molding around it. Carendi also recommends painting a section of wall, or even an entire wall, with chalkboard paint to create a huge space for messages and schedules.

4 thoughts on “more evidence that people giving advice on managing work and family don’t understand how busy i am”

  1. I don’t even have enough discipline to share the one tiny whiteboard my wife and I share.

    Also, I have to ask how, if “No matter how good a computer looks,you don’t really want it sitting out during a dinner party”, does painting an entire wall with chalkboard paint contribute to the ambiance? “Well, Sally, you’ll notice the clean surface over here where we moved our laptop computer for this elegant dinner party, and if you look over there, you’ll see the first-grade chic look of a chalkboard-wall.”

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  2. What I find really odd about advice on work/life balance is that, even when the sources of the advice diagnoses the problem correctly, the solutions they recommend often don’t follow at all from that diagnosis. Even when people acknowledge that the structure of the labor market or various institutional constraints constraints are a problem, the solutions tend to be enthusiastically individual level, like: “Stop procrastinating!” “Be more confident!” “Learn to say no!” It always strikes me as a bizarre mixture of pep and condescension, even though I’m sure it’s well-intentioned.

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  3. The chalkboard wall is the one idea I thought was feasible for my family. Being a well-trained GTDer, I envisioned this as a project with a series of tasks:

    Hardware store: buy paint, painting tools, drop cloth, chalk tray, screws, anchors
    Craft store: buy chalk
    Home: assemble ladder, drop cloth, paint stuff
    Home: Wash wall (with Kid)
    Home: Paint wall (with Kid)
    Home: Clean up Kid and mess
    Home: Paint 2nd coat (no Kid, find activity for him)
    Home: Clean up mess (no Kid, find activity for him)
    Home: Assemble drill, screwdriver, chalk tray (no Kid, find activity)
    Home: Affix chalk tray to wall (no Kid, find activity for him)

    In sum, you need a boatload of time and, more importantly brainspace, to do even the easiest of these tasks.

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  4. How on earth is that supposed to help me manage work and family? As an untenured professor with a baby, I can assure you that if I ever have enough time to cut a corkboard to the size of a picture frame and cover it with fabric and ribbons, I can think of a dozen other activities that are more pressing.

    Not to mention the fact that it sounds like it would be hideously ugly.

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