Are we having the wrong conversation about "having it all"?

There are parts of The Atlantic’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All" that resonate (e.g., the crazy force that is billable culture) and then there are parts that bother me, like the quirky parallel of the marathon runner employee who gets up early and the mothering employee who gets up early.

I agree it’s time to challenge traditional feminist idea of “having it all,” but this story almost perpetuates the problem by settling into some boxed/absolute thinking of its own. The author often narrows in on family values, an isolation that misses the chance to talk about the bigger social opportunities. At times, this isolating angle seems to come with an underlying judgment: that family rearing is a kind of noble activity that should therefore be uniquely considered and supported, as opposed to supporting quality of life for all people in general.

It makes me think of the scene in Little Women, where Jo argues that women should get the vote not because they are good, but because they are human beings and deserve equity. Similarly, people should not be supported or have flexibility in their careers just because they are raising families, but because they are people and it’s simply better to have a balanced life. 

This should have nothing to do with kids, and maybe that’s what most bothers me about the article. Maybe I’m annoyed in general that if I am a feminist, there’s an assumption that I must have an innate orientation to motherhood, and that means I must also carry the banner for families. This bothers me in two ways: First, it doesn’t go far enough in terms of a cultural shift. Second, it insults men like my husband, who are working their asses off to evolve in their own right but tend to be the afterthought of social movements aimed at “women and families.” 

It’s time to dig deeper. I don’t really care if you choose to wake up at 4 am to train for marathons or if you choose to get up to feed your newborn. What matters is creating a society that values and supports balanced living.

"Family-friendly policies" are not exactly that radical at the end of the day. Radical change would be the world deciding to go to a four-day workweek. Radical change would be regular creative sabbaticals, or a complete redefinition of careers away from title-collecting and ladder-climbing toward strengths-building and project-hopping. This article has done lots to describe the symptoms and current conditions, but if we really want to reinvent ourselves, our careers, and our workplaces — rather than merely fix broken systems and solve old problems — we need to expect more and experiment actively and significantly. We need to give ourselves permission to imagine bigger instead of inheriting and rehabbing yesterday’s model.

confession tuesday: i know the secret to inbox zero

I confess that I really do know the secret (for me). And it’s decidedly simple:

1. Sign up for the most well-designed to do list ever: Teux Deux. Get the iPhone app while you’re at it. 

2. Marvel at the beauty of dragging and dropping your to do list items and prioritizing your life with a swipe of your precious little fingertip. 

3. Discover that you keep most emails in your inbox because you have to *do* something with them… inevitably you are always two or three steps away from simply replying, which in turn (somehow) equates to always being 385 emails away from inbox zero.

4. Start adding those reply steps/projects to Teux Deux and booting them out of your inbox. If a client sends you content for a brochure you’re writing, it does not belong in your inbox. It’s an asset that can be found later. (This is the trick: thinking of your inbox as a magical library where people submit new stories and content every single day.)

5. Archive the associated email. (Assuming you’ve already discovered the power of Gmail.)

6. Watch your inbox count dwindle. And thanks to Teux Deux’s ability to effortlessly add and shift line items around, you will brainhack your way to email activity that is a tool for *making stuff happen* instead of creating more emails. Suddenly you’ll manage your responses and email activity based on your actual capacity and the actual priority of the project. The “just power through” emailpalooza lunch break disappears.

7. When an item on Teux Deux does relate to an email, search your Gmail archives, find related email (like looking up the resource you need in a library), and as the cool kids say, “Git er done.” 

And that, my friends, is how I’ve been at inbox zero for almost a week.