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Saturday, December 20, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 1/15/2006

Our cup runneth over on us

Here s one that will chime with the ring of truth č especially for women who, as the phrase goes, work outside the home.

Ready? Here goes.

This just in: The round-the-clock convenience offered by cell phones and pagers brings added pressure to both our work and family our lives.

Yeah. No kidding.

Someone actually did a study.

Noelle Chesley, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee research sociologist, followed 1,300 cell phone-using adults for more than two years before reaching this conclusion.

(No, she didn t contact me, either. Then again, if she d tried, probably neither you nor I could take her call because we were already busy on the other line handling one of the issues that seem to crop up so easily from either home and work.)

Anyway, in an article she recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Ms. Chesley identified the problem as spillover.

This is a term Ms. Chesley uses to refer to the ever-blurrier line that separates work and family life.

Spillover may be what a research sociologist calls it.

I myself have a variety of unprintable pet names for this phenomenon, which, in my world, anyway, usually rears it head something like this:

Ring, ring (or, in the new world order of polite cell phone use, vibrate, vibrate).

If I am working, the person on the other end might just be my husband ( Hey, do you remember where we put the receipt and warranty for that car repair last month? Because it just died on me) or my daughter (Mom? Hi! Listen, they changed basketball practice today, so I need to be picked up half an hour earlier. OK? Mom? Hello? )

If I am at home č or at the grocery store, or in the car on my way to pick up my husband from the car dealer s service department č the person on the other end is invariably my editor ( Got a pen? You need to write this down ) or some really important source I have been trying to reach all week ( Sorry I haven t called earlier, but I do have five minutes before my flight leaves and I won t be back for two weeks, so we can do the interview now if you like. ).

So, picture it: I m either banging my head on my newsroom desk while trying to play beat-the-clock, or trying to take notes with a carrot in the produce section of Kroger.

And so it is for myriad women, just as Ms. Chesley s study found.

For men, when mobile phones and pagers are always at the ready, it usually means workplace issues find a way to cut into family time. But for women, it s a two-way system: Spillover from family issues seeps into time at work, as well as vice-versa.

Once upon a time, I thought studies that ended up proving the obvious were colossal wastes of time and money.

Now I m not so sure.

If nothing else, it s nice to realize you re not the only one using a carrot for a pen.



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