Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Time-Saving Microwave Tips


Approximately everyone in the world has already commented on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s cover story in this month’s Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” so I’m not going to. I’m not female, not a parent, and don’t have a hugely demanding job, so I’m unusually poorly qualified to have an opinion anyway. However, I can’t resist highlighting this passage:

Louise Richardson, now the vice chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, combined an assistant professorship in government at Harvard with mothering three young children. She organized her time so ruthlessly that she always keyed in 1:11 or 2:22 or 3:33 on the microwave rather than 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00, because hitting the same number three times took less time.

Hey! I do that too. Melting butter? 0:55. Nuking a potato? 5:55. Reheating Chinese food? 2:22, stir it up a little, then 1:11. Etc. And I do this despite the fact that my time is organized exactly the opposite of ruthlessly.

I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned from this, but I’m not sure what. Maybe my readers have some ideas. As for the actual point of Slaughter’s piece, I agree with the near-universal consensus that (a) the title of the piece is grating, (b) the framing of the piece is grating, (c) the cover photo is grating, but (d) the substance of the piece is worthwhile. The latter was, frankly, a little surprising to me because the gist of Slaughter’s complaint seemed so obvious that I was annoyed she felt like she had to spend 12,000 words to convince me. But I guess maybe it’s not so obvious as I thought.

By the way, aside from the microwave thing, the most popular time-management technique seems to be waking up at 4 am. Assuming, that is, that you consider this a “time management” technique. I’ll let each of you decide that for yourself.

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