For Montclair Local


Allison Task is a career and life coach in Montclair, and the author of “Personal (R)evolution: How to Be Happy, Change Your Life, and Do That Thing You Always Wanted to Do.” Her website is Need advice? Send questions to, or to us at

For this Ask Task, I wanted to share the two most common questions I hear in my coaching practice. These are not direct reader submissions, but questions that are asked repeatedly by my clients.

I think I drink too much. How do I know if I drink too much?

A variety of health organizations share some basic numbers for “how much is too much”. For women, it’s typically more than one drink per day, seven per week and for men, two per day, 10-12 per week.

But my guess is, if you’re asking this question, you’re already past those numbers, which you may see as unrealistic and out of touch.

I am also going to guess that although you’re drinking more than the guidelines say is healthy, you’re drinking with people who have similar drinking habits. So let’s look at the softer side of drinking, and some questions you may want to ask yourself:

1. Do you depend on a drink to help you unwind, distress, connect? Do you turn to wine, beer or a stiff drink after you’ve had a rough day? Do you “need” a drink? 2. Do your plans frequently involve drinking? Do you meet friends for a glass of wine, or plan day drinking into your summer activities? Do you “go out drinking” with friends — is drinking an activity? Do you get frustrated if you show up somewhere and there isn’t alcohol offered?

3. Are you concerned about your drinking? The answer to this one is yes, because you’re asking the question (or reading this column). If you’re reading this column because you’re concerned about someone else, that counts too, because having friends, family or your doctor express a concern about your drinking is an important warning sign.



4. Do you set a limit for your drinking, and then have difficultly sticking to the limit you set? Setting a limit is a already warning sign that there’s an issue; you don’t typically set a limit on how many bananas you can have, or glasses of ice tea.

5. Is your drinking impacting your sleep or mood? Are you’re waking up in the middle of the night, maybe even sweaty after a night of drinking? Do you find yourself hung over in the morning, even after seven-eight hours of sleep? Do you regularly reach for aspriin after a night of drinking?

If you see a trend here, and most importantly — if you feel that you’re drinking too much, you probably are. As you know, Alcoholics Anonymous can be a useful resource, as is speaking with therapists or other mental health counselors.

With social media, there are more places to be thoughtful about drinking, and a new phrase that’s catching on: grey area drinking. If you answered yes to at least two of the questions above, and yet you haven’t had a major problem, crisis or “hit rock bottom”, you may be questioning if this is really a problem. Let me cut to the chase: if drinking is controlling you more than you’re controlling drinking, it is time to reexamine.

I’d encourage you to check out the Edit podcast about grey area drinking by Jolene Park and Aiden Donnelly Rowley, or the One Year No Beer podcast (and movement). There’s also, or Instagram leaders like tellbetterstories2018 and thesoberglow. These contemporary approaches are more private than the traditional meeting, and a good way to get your think on.

My partner doesn’t do their share [of the housework/childcare/general domestic responsibilities]. How can I get him/her to do more?

Assuming your goal is a more equitable shared distribution of responsibilities, first let’s identify what you and your partner are doing to maintain your home economy. And to be clear, economy refers to revenue, expenses and all the stuff in between — buying clothes, getting ready for camp, cooking, you know, all the things we learned in “home economics.”

Could you both write a list of what you do to contribute and what your partner does? Instead of focusing on what isn’t done, let’s look for what you’re both already doing.

Perhaps they’re doing more than you realize. Perhaps you’re doing more than they realize. After the tasks are on the table, you can start trading. Perhaps there’s work that you want to outsource to a third party, like lawn care, laundry or childcare. Perhaps his most hated chore is something you don’t mind as much (and vice versa) and a trade will make you both happier. Maybe it’s time to distribute some responsibilities to other members of your home economy, like your kids.

There’s a wonderful book that came out in 2011 called “Spousanomics” (then was renamed, unfortunately to “It’s Not You, it’s the Dishes” — you can find it under either title) that use economic theory to look at the distribution of labor in the house. We’re talking about home economics, so we might as well use economic principles to guide us.