A community of optimists hosted by Melinda French Gates

Brigid Schulte is a journalist, think tank director and author of the New York Times bestselling book on time pressure, gender and modern life, Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time, which named one of the notable books of the year by the Washington Post and NPR, and won the Virginia Library Association’s literary nonfiction award.

She was an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post and The Washington Post Magazine for nearly 17 years and was part of the team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. She now serves as the director of the Better Life Lab, the work-life, gender equity and social policy program at New America, a nonpartisan think tank, which uses data, storytelling, practical tools and policy analysis to highlight how redesigning work, work-life enrichment, gender equity and human-centered policies are keys to excellence, productivity and innovation, as well as full, authentic and meaningful lives for everyone. She hosts the Better Life Lab podcast on Slate on the art and science of living a full and healthy life – calling for the changes to work culture and practice that will not only ease overwork and precarity, but create the conditions for fairer, juster real diversity, equity and inclusion for women and caregivers.

She has spoken all over the world about the causes and consequences of our unsustainable, always-on overwork culture, and how to make time for The Good Life by redesigning how we work, by re-imagining gender roles for a fairer division of labor and opportunity at work and home, by rewiring public policy to support diverse 21st century families, and, instead of seeking status in busyness, by recapturing the value of leisure – for everyone. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Slate, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, Fast Company, Time, CNN, Quartz, the Guardian and others. She has been quoted as an expert or featured in numerous publications, including Fortune, the Financial Times and others, and has appeared on a number of TV and radio programs, including CNN, The BBC, NBC and MSNBC, Fresh Air with Terry Gross and NPR’s Morning Edition.

She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Tom Bowman, a reporter for National Public Radio, and their two children. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and spent her summers with family in the mountains of Wyoming, where she did not feel so overwhelmed.


What inspires you to do the work you do?

I have a vision for what the future could look like, when people have the opportunity to choose how to shape their lives around meaningful, decent work and time for what really matters in life – connection to other people, love, family, community, and joy.

If you could go on long walk with anyone, who would it be?

Pema Chodron. The teachings of this Buddhist author, teacher, nun and mother is so wise and compassionate and hilarious – she’s gotten me through some tough times.

Please share a favorite quote.

“The shortest distance between two people is a story.” ― Attributed to Kyle Wark, First Alaskans Institute