Do Less
Drop the Ball

Do Less

Tiffany Dufu, the Chief Leadership Officer of Levo, offers sound advice for working women who seek work-life balance and true collaboration with their domestic partners.

Fast Company magazine lists Tiffany Dufu – the Chief Leadership Officer at the millennial professional network Levo – within its “League of Extraordinary Women.” In her book, she discusses how society pressures women to excel at work and at home, and how having it all means working nonstop, often at the expense of your health and happiness.

Writing in a relatable, accessible style, Dufu convincingly argues that you can succeed and build stronger relationships by sometimes “dropping the ball”– that is, doing less. Drawing on research and her experiences to craft her motivational guide, Dufu aims to help women attain their career goals and find happiness. She speaks especially to those who want to grow beyond mid-management or return to work after time away from the office.

Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, said that Dufu, “shows how everyone benefits when men work toward equality – and how our relationships and our lives are richer when we lean in together.” Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, says Dufu, “reminds us that we must focus on what truly matters and let go of the rest. She gives us specific tools and techniques to help us achieve our goals and live authentic lives free of guilt and regret.” Thus, both authors highlight Dufu’s unique offering of day-to-day practical advice combined with intelligent emotional support.


Dufu acknowledges that women occupy only 18% of upper-level leadership jobs, though they make up 51% of the population and nearly half the labor force.

The very future of our society rests on women’s ability to get past middle management and to thrive in the process.Tiffany Dufu

The author explains that she did not want to be economically dependent on her partner after she had children, and that her partner didn’t earn enough to support her. She explains that in 40% of American households with children, women are the primary earners. Dufu casts women’s struggle to balance life and work as an individual and collective challenge.

She critiques the way the media perpetuate the idea that women should achieve domestic perfection quickly and efficiently, a pervasive message that makes women feel they are failing if they don’t succeed in this feat. The author strongly states that the effort to meet impossible standards without support harms women’s psychological and physical well-being. 

Dufu highlights the hard truth that women with higher earnings can attain work-life balance more easily because they can pay someone to perform selected tasks. She recommends that you reach out to your community for support. Dufu explains that you can build and lean on a “mom village” of family members, neighbors, babysitters and friends with special expertise who can help with particular issues.

Gendered Expectations

Dufu regrets that gendered expectations in the workplace lead many men to assume that their female colleagues should perform “office housework,” such as planning social events.

We need a Drop the Ball movement – not just to prevent working mothers from crashing but to fast-forward history.Tiffany Dufu

Her themes include the concept that women bear the domestic burden in heterosexual relationships because they have internalized learned gender norms. Couples in same-sex relationships, she reports, tend to share domestic responsibilities more equitably than straight couples do.

She notes that men with female partners often shirk shared domestic responsibilities because they assume the woman will do the household chores. She quotes a survey reporting that 30% of men intentionally have done housework poorly so that their female partners would pick up the slack. A quarter of these men found that their partners felt such frustration at their sloppy efforts that they never asked the men to do those tasks again. 

Dufu recommends a healthier, more functional alternative: Meet with your partner, list the tasks each of you performs and then decide who should perform which ones. She reminds you not to fear dropping the ball at home – leaving tasks undone that you feel others should perform.

To improve communication in your domestic partnership, Dufu urges you to identify any gendered biases either of you might hold regarding the other and to acknowledge your different ways of thinking about the same problems. This helps you build what Dufu calls an “All-In Partnership,” in which you both co-manage caregiving and household concerns while working.

Dufu reminds you that both women and men need affirmation of the meaning of their contributions at work and at home. People feel powerless and undervalued when they receive more negative than positive reinforcement.

Happiness is a state that evolves from actualizing what matters most to us.Tiffany Dufu

To nurture your All-In Partnership, Dufu recommends prioritizing your happiness by overcoming guilt, honoring your boundaries and embracing happiness-inducing habits. She exhorts you to influence your partner to contribute equally to home management in order to make space for your creativity and your career.

A Staunch Ally

Dufu calls upon her own hard-earned success and the knowledge she gained working in New York City as she and her husband raised two children. She describes how they worked out their issues, and she draws worthwhile, helpful lessons from their journey. Dufu’s intelligence, insight and compassion shine through in her manual, which is demonstrably more useful than many books covering the same areas. Her career and skills focus on helping millennials network, and that context shows in her patient, kind and functional advice. Younger women who have yet to start careers or families will gain much from Dufu’s guidance and working women with kids will discover a staunch ally.

Other works offering worthy advice and support to working women include Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead; Sally Helgesen’s How Women Rise; and Minda Harts’s The Memo.

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