This post is from Clay Collins, author of the blog The Growing Life.

Generation Y is known for rolling into work late while wearing headphones, and dressing as if every day were casual Friday. We’re often seen TXTing in our cubicles, taking breaks, and instant messaging. While these images don’t exactly encourage others to view us as bastions of uber-productivity, we’re often a hell of a lot more productive than previous generations.

Here are seven reasons why my generation (Generation Y) is often more productive than yours:

Reason 1: We use the best tools
Generation Y is more than comfortable doing the experimentation necessary to find the right tools and technologies for most effectively completing a task. We understand the company’s project management software better than you do because we are comfortable playing with it. And we can probably recommend 2-3 other tools that would work better in the situation because we’re not afraid to rely on nearly-free, online productivity tools from unknown companies. Our to-do lists are carefully maintained, prioritized daily and synced with our PDAs and iPODs.

Reason 2. We’re good at automating
Generation Y has grown up with technology and we believe that computers can do just about anything (or that they will someday). So when we’re receive a task, the first question we ask ourselves is: “how can technology make this task go faster?” Sometimes our efforts to employ technology make things more complicated, but quite often we end up successfully automating a repetitive task, saving ourselves and our companies thousands of dollars.

Reason 3. We get better sleep
Previous generations have lived by Ben Franklin’s aphorism: “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Generational Y intuitively knows what psychologists have confirmed: that a significant percentage of the population is much more productive when they go to bed late and get up late. Simply put, you’re more productive when you follow your biologically determined circadian rhythms and get up when your body tells you to.

Reason 4: We’re much more likely to love our jobs
Since Generation Y switches jobs much more frequently than previous generations, we’re much more likely to be doing things that (1) we’re good at, and (2) we actually like. All the job switching and repositioning we do means we’re much more likely to end up with professions that are actually suited to our passions and talents. And every productivity guru knows you’re most productive when you’re doing things you actually care about.

Reason 5: We stay up to date in our fields
Another upshot of changing jobs so frequently is the need to stay on top of the latest developments in our fields. Because job searching is a somewhat continual process for Generation Y, we’re likely to teach ourselves new skills, or pay for training, even if our employers don’t because we want to stay competitive. We see training and skill-building as our own responsibility — not something that our employer will necessarily do for us. And our lifestyle choices reflect a passion for constant learning and development .

Reason 6: We’re experimental
Generation Y is continually doing research and development at the individual level. And because Generation Y cares more about getting new experiences and learning new skills than about not making mistakes , we’re willing to try new things, be creative, and take new angles. While this experimental approach might not result in quantifiable productivity, it leads to the kind of shifts in thinking that save time and money over the long haul.

Reason 7: We don’t “go through the motions”
We’ve seen our washed up parents work shit jobs they hate, and we won’t go through the motions for the sake of job security. If you’re an old-school boss, then this won’t be comfortable. However, not going through the motions for the sake of going through the motions actually makes us more productive in the long run.

Clay Collins is author of The Alternative Productivity Manifesto, and Quitting Things and Flakiness: The #1 Productivity Anti-Hack. Clay also writes about lifestyle design at Project Liberation.

You can tell if you are avoiding personal growth in your career because you are not feeling challenged. You can tell if you are not feeling challenged if you are not scared. Being scared is what makes life interesting. You should be scared that you are going to fail at something because if you are not then you are not trying hard to do something difficult.

Most people think they are challenging themselves, but most people are avoiding personal growth on some level. There are many paths to personal-growth avoidance. Here are five ways people do it in their career.

1. You aim to be a generalist.
The best way to see what you're great at is to specialize. Pick a type of work that suits your personality, then pick a field that is a specialty within that. Usually you will pick wrong. So what? Keep trying. When I was trying to figure out what I was great at, I wrote a lame novel, I pitched stupid articles to Marie Claire and I got dumped as a feature writer for an alternative Weekly. This is how I learned that I should be writing career advice. The process of becoming a specialist is finding out what makes you special. How could you not want to know that?

2. You are consumed with getting a book deal.
Ninety percent of you do not need a book deal. What are you going to do with that? A book will not make you rich. It will probably drive you nuts because a book is very hard to write. If you have so many good ideas, put them in blog posts. The ideas get out faster and you get more feedback. A book is good to promote something. But you need to know what you're promoting. Maybe a company, maybe a project, maybe you want to build a community. But in most cases, a book is not the most time-effective way to meet that goal. So in fact, people who are focusing on the need to get a book deal are avoiding figuring out what they really want. A book is a means to an end, not an end. Uncovering your real goals is what personal development is about.

3. You have never had a long-term relationship.
If you have never been in a relationship for more than nine months, then you have not let anyone really see you. Nine months is how long it takes for that crazy, being in love feeling to wear off. (There should be a link here, but it would be to my therapist, who told me in last week's session.) So after getting through nine months the clouds dissipate and you start to see your true self reflected back to you from someone who knows you well. Before that, it's pretty easy to cover up your true self. You can manage personal development much more effectively if you are looking at yourself through someone else's eyes. It always feels different because you can't hide from the stuff that you wish would go away.

4. You lack strong opinions.
The only thing you get to do in this world is choose what a good life is and then aim for it. But that requires being opinionated. Every day you are choosing what's a good life for you. If you are scared to have opinions because you're scared of being wrong, then how are you making choices? If you can't think of stuff you have strong opinions on, you are probably living someone else's vision for a good life. Not your own. Being wrong is way better than not having opinions. At least if you're wrong you are trying.

5. You think career advice is stupid.
We read the most about stuff we know the most about. It's not optimal, but it's how we are. Do you read about how to make tutus from materials other than tulle? See? That's my point. It may be an interesting topic, if you knew anything to start with. So it's a good bet that the people who read career advice are very consciously navigating their personal development through their career. And people who think it's stupid to read career advice are ignoring the fact that adult life is about getting smarter and smarter answers to the question: What should I be doing?

Here’s what happens in every meeting I have with investors: They ask about my divorce.

Many people ask about my divorce. Usually it’s because the person cares about me. But with the investors, there is no pretense. They just want to know if Nino is going to get a large percentage of my stock in the settlement. The risk to them is that at some point, Nino would have so much stock in my company that it wouldn’t be worth my time to continue doing the company. The investors want to make sure they don’t get involved in a situation like this.

So I assure the investors it won’t happen, but honestly, I have to work hard to make that true.

For the most part, divorce is a divide-down-the-middle thing. For an entrepreneur with a venture backed start-up, the trick is finding the middle. Because there’s no perfect way to figure out the value of the company. I try to make the company look valuable enough that I can pay off our debt and support the kids, but not so valuable that Nino thinks it’s his ticket to divorce heaven.

My lawyer, Allan, sees it as his job to put the fear of God in me: If I cash out big and it turns out I mislead people in the divorce proceeding, then Nino can come after me for everything. “Just be honest” is what Allan tells me. For $400 an hour.

I refer him to the blog post where I say that lying on one’s resume is an art form and honesty is not black and white.

He tells me that divorce law is different from career advice.

I say I think the difference is that career advice has more than a one-time use.

Allan thinks this is not true because he thinks that one day I will divorce the farmer. He says, “Your farmer has land in the middle of nowhere. If you like farmers, I have a farmer for you. He owns the land at the end of [sworn to secrecy — major road in Wisconsin]. And he just sold a bunch.”

I remind Allan about how pissed off he was when I wrote a post about the last guy he set me up with.

Allan concurs: I am a nightmare to set up on a date.

This conversation takes place on the short walk to the building to meet Nino and his lawyer.

Allan asks me how I’m feeling about custody.

This is why I like Allan. He cares about me. He is thinking of the flurry of phone calls I made to him after I read that women who make a lot of money are losing custody to their husbands who make no money.

“Where did you read that?” Allan asked.

“In the London Mail.”

Allan said, “Forget it. This is Madison. Don’t worry about it. If you want to know what to worry about, worry about the company.”

I didn’t know if I should believe Allan. I didn’t know if I should worry. I have so many mentors who help me with my start-up: almost all of them are men, and all are extremely generous with their time and ideas. But none has experience losing custody as a mom.

So I asked Nino one day, when it was our three-year-old’s birthday and I was premenstrual and I forgot half of the goodie bags, “Do you think we parent equally or do you think you do more?”

He said, “I think you do way more than I do.”

I said, “Really?” I should have recorded it or something. But instead, I cried.

He said, “Could we just have a normal birthday party? No crying?”

Okay. So, flash forward, to the meeting with our lawyers. And in our ongoing quest to be normal, Nino and I sit in the room and we try to do niceties. But niceties are difficult for me and Nino. Not because we are not nice to each other, but because we are bad with small talk. I feel an affinity to him when both of us are befuddled during lawyer small talk about the weather and the Badgers.

We get down to business. Which is the business of figuring out how much my business is worth.

Nino’s lawyer, Steve, is worried that my business is stupid and I’ll never be able to pay off our debt. He says, “So much of the business is you. What if people start saying bad things about you?”

I say, “Haven’t you been reading my blog?”

Nino says, “No. I told him not to. I thought it would be too expensive.”

Steve says, “I’ve looked at it.”

I say, “Did you like it?”

Steve smiles. Or maybe he says yes. I can’t remember. But I remember getting the distinct feeling that he would let me use his name in my blog posts even though Allan told me to never use Steve’s name.

Me: Didn’t you see the comments? People tell me I’m an idiot all the time.

Steve: Well. I didn’t see that. But I saw the letter to the editor in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Allan: I have it right here.

Me: What? What is that? A scrapbook?

Allan: Yeah. Sort of. Here is where you were covered in the New York Times. Steve, did you see this?

Steve: Oh. What is this?

Me: Let me see the letter to the editor. Oh, this is just some over-educated person from Madison whining about how her graduate degree mattered.

[I look up. The lawyers are lost in the clips. Nino is shaking his head incredulously. Then everyone looks up.]

Me: I get hundreds of comments each week saying how stupid I am.

Steven: Really? I think I don’t understand how the business works. I thought you were an authority.

Me: It’s a fine line, stupidity and authority.

Nino: [giddy at the line of questioning] Oh, do you think so?

Steven: Can you explain the company again? How do you tell investors that you are going to make money from this thing?

Me: Well, I think the way I explained it last time probably didn’t work for you. So, I have an idea. Would you like me to give you the pitch I give to investors?

Steve: Sure.

Me: Should I stand? I usually stand.

Steve: Okay.

Me: Well, I usually have a PowerPoint presentation as well.

Allan: We can imagine it.

Allan is excited that I’m going to do the pitch. He thinks our best-case scenario is if Nino and his lawyer understand the company very clearly. Allan says they’ll leave all the stock to me if they see it’s in everyone’s best interest.

So it turns out that the key to a good divorce is good communication. Hilarious. For people who are not us.

I look over at Nino. He’s never even asked me what my company does. I am secretly happy to finally tell him. I think he should be more curious.

I do the pitch. At first I sort of tone it down, but then I get rolling. I realize that I don’t need the PowerPoint. I say, “We aggregate people who blog about their careers.” Then I talk about how great the bloggers on our network are: “Super-engaged employees that employers are looking for.” I toss around some financial estimates and explain, “We encourage employers to recruit by having a conversation in the blogosphere.”

Steve says he thinks that companies don’t know what blogs are.

Steve says he doesn’t see an employee shortage in Madison law firms.

These are not good observations. I worry that I have not explained things well.

But then Nino says, “That stuff is not going to be a problem. The problem is that the PR people won’t want to let everyone talk to bloggers.”

I say, “Nino’s right. That’s the weak link in the plan. He’s so smart. That’s why I married him.”

I used to write about my brother Erik a lot. I wrote about how I retooled his resume to make his dead-end job at Blockbuster into the perfect collection of achievements. Then I let him guest post while he was getting ready to quit the investment banking job he was sick of.

Now he’s at Microsoft and his job is to buy companies. (If you work with him, you know him by his real name, which he won’t let me use.) I don’t write about him much now because everything he says to me begins with, “Don’t blog about this.” (And then I see it on Valleywag an hour later, which is, of course, very frustrating for me.)

But I talk with Erik almost every day. (Sometimes twenty times a day, like when a very large company called about buying Brazen Careerist and then turned out to be as day-after-difficult as a one-night stand without a condom.) Erik sends me great links that are harbingers of the future of work. So here are a few. And, if you don’t think they are as good as tea leaves for the office, at least maybe this gives you insight into what Microsoft’s acquisition team is looking at right now.

1. The tyranny of internships will be exposed and companies will have to pay real wages.
Stuff White People Like has a smart and hilarious summary of why internships are for white kids. But seriously, the fact that internships are practically essential starting blocks for a top-tier career is just ridiculous when you think about how well-connected you have to be to get into all the great summer internship programs.

2. The tyranny of tech support will be exposed and they will actually offer help.
Here is a parody of a call, but it is actually what happened every single time I called tech support while I was working in the Fortune 500. If you have ever called internal tech support from within a large company, this will make you laugh. (If the Onion did a documentary on the tech support call, this is what the Onion would come up with.)

3. The tyranny of the discreet job hunt will be exposed and everyone will job hunt openly.
Accountemps reports that 75% of executives are comfortable with people job hunting while still on the job. And they would do the same themselves. This makes sense to me intuitively, because 25% of any office is people who are dead wood and are not going to look for another job—ever—and therefore don’t want anyone else to. The big news here is that most people are looking all the time. And since job hopping builds strong careers, the people who aren’t are the ones who have a problem.

4. The tyranny of high heels will give way to the pricey, good-for-feet-but-still-sexy, heel.
Academic researchers are finding on many fronts that men like to work with women who dress like women. This means shoulder-length hair or longer, a good amount of makeup but not too trampy, and, yes, high heels. They don’t have to be stiletto, but you need to look like you know how to pull an outfit together. This means that a lot of women are walking to work in flats and switching in the elevator, and kicking their stilettos off under the table during meetings. But that will end, soon, because the Wall Street Journal reports that shoe designers see a gold mine in saving female feet from career-girl frustration.

5. The tyranny of the prudish will be exposed for hurting productivity and coworkers will flirt openly.
Flirting at work has a positive impact on productivity, according to Heidi Reeder, professor of communications at Boise State University. This news doesn’t mean that upping the ante to sex actually ups the productivity level as well. In fact, you might ruin everything, especially if the sex is bad. But feel free to find the flirt in you and use it to get ahead.

I noticed in the New York Times Book Review last week, there was a nice review of Jim Krusoe’s new book, Girl Factory. I was happy to see that, because Jim Krusoe was my first—and most influential—writing teacher.

Jim teaches creative writing at Santa Monica College, (and his faculty page reveals so much about him). He lets anyone join the class, but you have to read your writing out loud. This weeds out almost everyone. Because first you have to write something. And then you have to let everyone rip it to shreds. In front of you.

But wait. It gets worse. Because Jim edits. He slashes most of the writing he reads. And then, if you’re new to the class, you assume he’s wrong, so you read out loud what he has cut and you hear it fall flat as soon as it leaves your lips.

Try it. Read something you wrote out loud to a friend. If it’s bad, you’ll feel right away that boredom has overcome the room. If you have even one flat sentence, you hear it when you read it out loud.

The first time Jim heard me read my writing, he said it was the best he'd heard anyone read in his class in a long time. Then he slashed everything I wrote for the next six years. Sometimes I’d hand in three pages of writing and he’d leave only five sentences.

But this is the thing about those five sentences: they were great. And here’s why I became a dedicated follower: Because I felt like he understood my compulsive need to write my life. And I understood his goal, which was to have interesting sentences. So when he cut full paragraphs that I thought were important because my sentences were boring, I felt grateful that he saved me from banality.

And I channel him every day that I write a post. I think to myself: Is this sentence one that Jim would cut?

I am not so arrogant as to think that Jim would even bother to read any of my sentences today. But I do know that the lessons I learned from Jim are the essence of good blogging. You can't be boring on a blog. People will stop reading.

So if you want to know how to write interesting paragraphs, read the authors who are famous for their ability to stun sentence by sentence. Try Jim Krusoe. Try literary types who sacrifice plot for prose: Ken Sparling, Martin Amis, Ann Beattie. (And, when you are feeling ambitious, Marcel Proust.)

I tell people all the time to pick a mentor rather than picking a job. Jim Krusoe is my first experience with this. He didn’t teach at a college I had ever heard of. And he didn’t even write books that I understood. But he is legendary for churning out well-respected writers, year after year.

Find a mentor with this reputation, and then work hard to make sure you each understand each others’ goals. What you’ll get out of this relationship is a new way to be more of your true self. And this is the best kind of job we can ask for.

We don’t have to find our true calling from a mentor. In fact, what I found from Jim was confidence to think that I should keep writing and see what happens. A good mentor opens doors, in our minds, and you can find that at any job, any company, anyplace your connection with someone is strong.

I’d like to tell you that there are no bad questions. But you know what? That’s not true. So here are the ways people ask me questions that drive me nuts:

1. You ask me a career question for your wife.
The first problem with you walking around in the world telling people you need help for your wife/girlfriend is why can she not ask for herself? I can only imagine that she does not see her problem the same way you do. And in that case you should butt out. Or, maybe she does not want to ask for help. And in that case you should butt out, too, because who are you to tell her she needs help when she doesn’t want it and then go get it for her anyway?

Newsflash: The guy who asks career advice for his wife sounds way more needy and off-track than his wife does. Because the guy is being so disrespectful in such a public way and he doesn’t even know it.

And hey, mister, how would you like it if your wife walked around telling people that you need career advice but won’t get it yourself, so she’s getting it for you?

2. You ask me a question when five people have given you an answer you don’t like.
I have some bad news for you. Five people who agree on anything are probably right. Especially since it’s likely that after three people gave you answers you didn’t like, you probably started asking people who are maybe a little bit crazy so maybe they’d give you a different answer. And they still didn’t.

So look, consider taking the advice when a small community accidentally comes together as synchronized advisors. You are lucky. These people all took the time to hear your problem and give you a thoughtful answer. Don’t spurn them if you can help it — they will not want to give you an answer again.

Cheat sheet: If you are thinking that your problem is very unique and difficult, or that people everywhere do not understand you, then the problem is you. Because you don’t want to face the reality that you are not special (none of us is, really) and the people around you are not idiots. (And if they are, who is the original idiot that aggregated the idiots?)

3. You ask me a question that requires more than two paragraphs.
Sometimes I get emails that are more than two pages long, attempting to explain a problem. I’m going to tell you something: All career problems can be described in under 100 words. If you are going over 100 words, you don’t know your problem. If you are going over 1000 words, it’s because your self-knowledge is really bad, so that is your problem.

Think about it. If your problem is that you don’t know a good way to answer the phone when it rings, that is a very concise problem. If everyone in the office hates you and you can’t figure out why (maybe you can’t narrow it down to the phone) then that is still a concise problem.

If you have to explain to me all the characters of your office and why they suck and I have to infer that everyone hates you and that’s your problem, then your problem is self-awareness. You lack it.

So try this: If you are writing your problem and you’re on the fifth paragraph, try to edit. Try to get it to one paragraph. And then try to get it to one sentence. That’s a good exercise in figuring out your own problems.

Being smart about your career is not so much about having good answers. It’s having good questions. You don’t need to have answers to everything. But you need to work hard at making your questions useful, for both you and your advisors.

Do you know the salary of every employee at your company? I think you should.

I mean, who is being protected by secret salaries? Certainly not the employee—the more transparent salaries are, the more accurately an employee can assess his or her value to a company.

You’d think that companies benefit from secret salaries and that’s why they keep them secret, but really, if salaries were 100% accurate—perfectly pegged at the employee’s worth to the company—then the company would have no problem revealing all salaries.

The only people who benefit from secret salaries is the human resources department. If they make an error, they can hide it. No one will know. And then they can make ten errors. Because no one knows if the secret salaries are hiding one error or one hundred.

So large companies keep salaries under wraps in order to hide all the mistakes, making the cost of transparency high. But today smaller companies often make salaries totally transparent.

I haven’t done it quite yet with my own company, but I'm going to. I’ve been giving everyone some data just to get them ready for the big picture. Almost everyone is not happy, because even in my little start-up, I’ve made salary errors.

For example, the person who was underpaid was not so much jubilant about a potential raise, but upset about his current underpayment. The person who's losing the housing allowance mostly for tax purposes does not seem to mind. The person who is making way more than everyone else minds a lot that I’m planning on revealing everyone’s salaries. But honestly, I think that person will work much harder if everyone knows the truth. And it should be that way.

This experience has taught me that you should always try to get to a company that has out-in-the-open salaries, because that means you have more out-in-the-open managers—managers that have so much self-confidence in their ability to value accurately a business contribution that they can set airtight salaries and stand by them.

Of course, most companies are not there yet. Especially the larger ones. Fortunately a bunch of companies have arrived with tricked-out tools for figuring out what you should be getting paid. And what your co-workers should earn as well. Here’s a sampling of the top tier of those companies: is my favorite. In fact, I like them so much that I was mentioning them in all my speeches and then I asked them to do a sponsorship with me. (And they did.) So, anyway, the reason I like Payscale is that they systematically collect data in very specific categories so you can match your situation—years of experience, geography, education—to get your real value in the market. Bonus: These are the people who bring you statistics on the real cost of corporate meetings. is a good one if you are trying to get a raise. is not as thorough as Payscale with its data collection. So employers generally favor Payscale. But skews higher than Payscale, so if you have to bring a first number to the negotiating process, use Bonus: These are the people who bring you the statistics on how much a housewife is worth.

But really, if companies are smart, the conversation about salary will go quickly. You tell the company how much you’re worth. You bring very good data to back that up, and the company pays it. Then other factors like company culture become much more important.

That's where Glassdoor comes in. It’s US magazine for the company you are considering—a little gossipy, with first-hand information about companies from the people who suffer in them. Bonus: Glassdoor is a new company and there are not a lot of competing perspectives on the site yet. So if you drop a bomb about the place you work, it’ll hit hard.

How ironic that right after I post about dangers of Mommy Porn, the New York Times exacerbates this problem to include men. Take a look at the insipid photo that illustrates the article about shared care by Lisa Belkin.

But first, a disclaimer: I know Lisa, she’s super nice and fun, and she talked with me about how I could be the person in the article who is the train wreck example of shared care.

A second disclaimer is that Amy and Marc, featured there as the poster children for shared care, are also people I've helped—about how to pitch themselves to the media so they could get some articles written about themselves and get a book deal. And they, too, were nice.

So it’s ironic that I am going to bitch about them now. Specifically, I’m going to tell you why I wanted to rip all their heads off when I read that piece about shared care.

1. Shared care shields people from the reality that their careers are not great.
It’s rare that shared care works long-term for someone who is very good in the business world. Some people are great at management, some people are born leaders. These are people who catapult up to the top of the business world, in whatever sector they are in. And they love their work.

These are not the people who do shared care. It is simply not appealing in the long run to the best workplace leaders. The people who think they want to try this usually end up frustrated after downsizing their career for shared care. Read closely and you'll see examples of this in the article. In fact, there is not an example of someone who is competing at the very top of their field who ended up enjoying shared care.

2. You need a lot of money to do shared care.
With one stay at home parent, you only need one parent to pull in a ton of money. With shared care parenting, you need two people who can make miracles happen in their chosen profession; two people who are so clever and specialized that they can figure out what to do for work that is part-time.

Already, this is a big feat since the Washington Post reports that most women who stay at home full-time would rather work part-time but they can’t find the jobs. But you also need people who have salaries high enough so that if you made both the salaries part-time, the family could still not only survive, but actually grow and still be financially okay.

Look, I know that usually when the topic is money and people are saying they don’t have enough to do what they want with their lives, I am a hard-ass and I tell them to move to a place with a lower cost of living. But I can’t help noticing that most people who make shared care work have their families helping them, which means they have to stay in the vicinity of family and do not have the ability to move to more economical locations.

3. Shared care kills two careers.
I am about to support this claim with very sloppy research from people I have met. But this seems okay because the New York Times is announcing a major trend based on interviews with what appears to be about ten couples.

So based on my own research of about ten couples who did shared care and hated it, everyone’s career takes a huge hit.

Dylan Tweney, editor at, told me that his career definitely took a hit from doing shared care with his wife and daughter for two years. He freelanced, and he points out that you cannot grow a business if you are working four hours a day. You have to always be earning money, so you can’t afford to take time to expand your markets.

4. Shared care requires an unlikely match of personalities in a marriage.
Newsflash: Not everyone has the personality to stay home with kids. There are some people who get their energy from leading. Those people need a team to lead. There are some people who are caregivers. They are energized by meeting peoples’ personal needs.

In fact, pairing those two types makes great couples. Corporate life is designed up for leaders to thrive, and leaders—yes, proven—do better when they have a caregiver type at home, taking care of their personal life.

Here’s some more news: It’s unlikely that two caretakers would marry each other. They just don’t. They are not attracted to each other. I have not much to prove this except that I am conscious in the world. And so are you, so you know this intuitively. And this means that marriages are not generally optimized to work for two people who both want to stay home with their kids.

5. Shared care caters only to detail-oriented types.
Shared care might actually be the most inefficient division of labor in the history of humanity. With one stay-at-home parent, he or she maintains a schedule, checks in with no one, and announces to the work-at-the-office parent what will be happening at home.

With shared care, the schedules are insane. When Tweney talks about the intricate schedules he and his wife had—that actually required the help of neighbors because they didn’t have family near—he says, “It’s definitely more efficient to have one person in charge. There is a lot of overhead to managing shared care.” And this is a theme even with the people in Belkin's article who love shared care.

For some people—visionaries, big-picture thinkers, leaders—managing the details of a shared care schedule would be mind-numbing and soul-crushing.

The fundamental problem with Belkin declaring a revolution in parenthood today is that the revolution is in a demographic she is not a part of. It’s like the New York Times covering the blogosphere. They don’t get it, so they focus on the craziness instead of the mainstream.

But the real trend that we really have here is that Generation X puts parenting before anything else—even men. Gen X is horrified by the self-centered parenting that they received. And Gen X is an inherently revolutionary generation. We have little to lose: We are the first generation in American history to earn less than our parents. We are a generation largely berated and misunderstood by the media, so we have no great image to protect, and we have been handed nothing on a silver platter, so we have nothing to squander.

The history of the revolutions—French, American, Russian—is the history of people with nothing to lose recognizing the need for change. Generation X is that group today. And shared care is just one, small way that Gen X is expressing their revolutionary nature: with their parenting.

Are you thinking your Blackberry use is out of control and you need to turn it off? Forget it. The problem is not the Blackberry, it’s you.

The Blackberry actually gives you the freedom to effectively mix your personal life and work life so that they don’t have to compete with each other.

Don't talk to me about the idea that the Blackberry undermines your ability to have work-life balance. First, the idea that you could ever have it is ridiculous. But a Blackberry at least gives you hope.

Without a Blackberry, you always had to choose one or the other. Work and life were always competing for large chunks of time in the day. But with the Blackberry, you can have a blended life where work life and personal life complement each other. What I mean is that the Blackberry makes it so you can always do work but also always do your personal life, so you choose which one has priority, minute to minute.

In the 80s, if you went to your kid's soccer game, you could not do work. Today, you can go to your kid's soccer game and take the call from the CEO that will change your life (or have a fight with a co-worker) and then go back to soccer. You get both. It's not one or the other. If you could not take that call, you could not have gone to the game. That’s why the Blackberry is great for your life.

The challenge that the Blackberry brings is that you always need to know your priorities, at any given moment. Anne Zelenka at Web Worker Daily describes this process as really focusing on one or two things and that's it.

Then ask yourself: Given what you are doing right now, which emails and which calls are important enough to take? If you are not clear on the answer at every given moment, you are constantly having to make difficult decisions about answering emails or not and you feel a false sense of overload by the demands of the Blackberry.

If you are having sex, you have a good sense that very few emails in the whole world need your attention right then. If you are at a birthday party for ten year old boys and they are screaming up and down a soccer field, you are probably bored and emails look a little more enticing. This is not about addicted or not addicted; this is an issue of knowing when email is essential and when it’s a distraction.

You have probably been out to dinner with friends and they checked their Blackberry. This means you are not their most important priority at that time, just for that moment. You of course hope that your presence would make you most important, but in fact, it did not. Does that mean your friend is addicted to her Blackberry? No. It means your friend is prioritizing and she’s letting you know that you rank high enough for in-person, but you don’t trump everyone.

That seems fine. Normal, really. If people would just call a spade a spade and stop complaining about the device and start thinking about how to make better choices for their priorities.

If you want to see a whole generation make great choices about their priorities using the Blackberry, then latch onto Generation Y. They have been managing multiple steams of conversation simultaneously for more than a decade, so they are aces at it. And they are fiends for productivity tips. The most popular blogs are productivity blogs, and David Allen is a rock star in this demographic. So young people are constantly using prioritizing tools to make their information and ideas flow more smoothly for both work and life, back and forth, totally braided.

Blackberries are tools for the well-prioritized. If you feel like you’re being ruled by your Blackberry, you probably are. And the only way to free yourself from those shackles is to start prioritizing so that you know at any given moment what is the most important thing to do. Sometimes it will be the Blackberry, and sometimes it won’t. And the first step to doing this shift properly is recognizing that you can be on and off the Blackberry all day as a sign of empowerment.