Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less Kindle Edition
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From the Author
- They see rest as a skill: like speaking or running, it's something we all do naturally, and can learn to do better.
- They learn to harness mind-wandering: they develop habits that give their brains a break, or give their unconscious minds time to explore new ideas.
- They treat rest with respect, and make time for it in their daily schedules.
- They recognize rest as a resource that can extend their creative lives.
"Consider this a much-needed guide for the overworked: a credible, factual case for chilling out and getting rest, by a well-known Silicon Valley consultant."
"Alex Pang wants us to treat work and rest as equals. In his fascinating, well-researched and highly readable new book Rest, he makes an excellent case for the critical importance of rest in our lives, drawing from the rest habits of some of our most famous scientists, writers and creatives from history, from neuroscience research as well as examples from some of the most productive people working today. You will consider how and why you rest in a completely new light after reading this book."―Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D. professor of neural science and psychology at New York University and author of Healthy Brain Happy Life
"I love this book. Rest weaves fascinating research and captivating stories into a wise prescription for a healthier, more creative, and more fulfilling life in a technology saturated world. At heart, it is rest, in the many ways Pang describes, that contributes to our ability to be the best of what we can be."―Linda Stone, former executive, Apple and Microsoft
- File size : 1282 KB
- Publication date : December 6, 2016
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 319 pages
- Publisher : Basic Books; 1st edition (December 6, 2016)
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- ASIN : B01IMZ5DR4
- Best Sellers Rank: #247,828 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Many business people today treat stress and overwork as a badge of honour, and will brag about how little they sleep and how few vacation days they take. However, as Dr Soojung-Kim Pang shows it is a mistake to think of rest as nothing more than the absence of work. Rest is work’s partner that, when correctly understood, improves output exponentially, and the quality of our lives commensurately.
We have made astounding discoveries in sleep research, psychology, neuroscience, organizational behaviour, sports medicine, sociology, and other fields over the last couple of decades. These discoveries have shown the critical role that rest plays in strengthening the brain, enhancing learning, enabling inspiration, and making innovation sustainable.
The book reviews the achievements of world-class musicians, Olympic athletes, writers, designers, and other accomplished and creative people. It shows how they alternate daily periods of intense work and concentration with long restful breaks of the right kind.
Rest is a skill like singing or running that everyone basically knows how to do. However, with a deeper understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better, and enjoy more profound rest and be more refreshed and restored.
It’s often when you’re not obviously working, or trying to work, that you can have some of your best ideas. According to a 2014 survey, one in five start-up founders got the idea for their company during vacations.
The author doesn’t propose a single ‘correct’ system because he doesn’t believe that there’s a single way we all should work. The principle of ‘deliberate rest’ needs to be adapted to your work, whatever that is.
The book has many suggestions of how to enhance the quality of your work through deliberate rest.
Start with this insight: “If some of history’s greatest figures didn’t put in immensely long hours, maybe the key to unlocking the secret of their creativity lies in understanding not just how they laboured but how they rested, and how the two relate.”
Illinois Institute of Technology professors Van Zelst and Kerr surveyed their colleagues’ work habits and schedules. If you expected a correlation between the hours scientists worked, and the number of articles they published, you would be mistaken. The curve rose steeply at first and peaked at between 10-20 hours per week. Then it turned downward so that scientists who spent twenty-five hours in the workplace were no more productive than those who spent five.
Researchers of world-class performers tend to focus only on measurable forms of work, and then try to make those more effective and more productive. What is overlooked is whether there are other ways to improve performance.
There is a popularised belief that world-class performance comes after 10,000 hours of practice. In fact, world-class performance only comes after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice; 12,500 hours of deliberate rest; and 30,000 hours of sleep.
For many thinkers and doers, a walk is an essential part of their daily routine, a source of exercise and solitude. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick walks forty miles a week on the indoor track at the company’s headquarters and walking meetings have become popular, especially among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and CEOs. Steve Jobs was famous for his walking meetings around the leafy streets of Palo Alto. LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and others have walking paths around their headquarters.
The Heisenberg uncertainty principle came to Heisenberg during a late-night walk in Copenhagen in 1927. He had been working on the uncertainty problem for almost two years.
Walking doesn’t look like an intellectual activity, and there are plenty of times when it’s purely utilitarian or recreational, but we can learn to use it to help us think better. Many creative people are diligent about carrying notebooks when they walk.
An underestimated form of rest is the nap, and the preferred time for a nap is the hour after lunch. Winston Churchill had the daily routine of a nap in the afternoon during WW11, as did Douglas Mac-Arthur and Dwight Eisenhower. Kennedy would normally take a 45-minute nap after lunch, and Lyndon Johnson, broke up his long day with a nap and shower in the afternoon. It was not that these men had comfortable corporate job: they were saving or running the world, with all its problems.
Hitler, in contrast, kept erratic hours. As the Allies closed in on Germany, he tried to stay up for days at a time, powered by a mix of amphetamines, cocaine, and other drugs.
A twenty-minute power nap is enough to give you a mental recharge without leaving you groggy. Power naps boost your ability to concentrate by giving your body a chance to restore depleted energy and increased alertness. But there are other benefits such as improving memory and consolidating things you’ve just learned. A power nap improves emotional regulation and self-control, reduces impulsiveness, and improves frustration tolerance. All are critical leadership skills.
Sleep deprivation has immediate effects on your ability to focus, make good judgments, perform under pressure, and be creative. Long-term sleep deprivation can affect your mental health and physical condition.
If you were raised (as I was,) on the heroics of “pulling all-nighters”, know that advanced science shows that to be as intelligent as driving cars at break-neck speed in urban areas.
Humans need to sleep about seven hours a night on average, and paradoxically, it’s restful because our brains aren’t really shutting down. Instead while we sleep, our bodies shift into maintenance mode and devote themselves to storing energy, fixing or replacing damaged cells, and growing while our brains clean out toxins. The day’s experiences and problems that have been occupying us, are processed.
Our emotional resources are as important for workers as physical energy is for athletes. German sociologist Sabine Sonnentag, has studied how opportunities for recharging the physical and emotional batteries affects workers’ health and well-being, job satisfaction, productivity, and resilience. Across professions the findings have been consistent: people who take opportunities to get away, mentally switch off, and devote their energies elsewhere, are more productive. They also have better attitudes, get along better with their colleagues, and are better able to deal with challenges at work.
Four major factors contribute to recovery: relaxation, control, mastery-experiences, and mental detachment from work. “Breaks that are high in all four are the equivalent of nutritious meals; those that don’t, are like empty calories,” notes the author.
Relaxation is an activity that’s pleasant and undemanding. Control is choosing what you will do on vacation, being crew not a passenger. Mastery-experiences are engaging, interesting and require effort. They are often challenging, mentally absorbing and so are more rewarding when you do them well. In Bletchley Park during World War II, for example, chess was a popular pastime among code-breakers.
Mental detachment from all work issues is necessary to promote recovery. People who carry work smartphones during non-work hours, or who have to keep in touch with the office while they’re on vacation, have higher levels of stress and work-family conflict.
Work and rest and two sides of the same coin. Taking shorter but more frequent vacations every few months provides greater levels of recovery because it is integrated into the work routine, rather than the quite separate annual vacation. Recovery is active, not passive, and we must design it to get greater benefit.
Physical stamina is also as important for creative work as for manual labour. President Barack Obama maintained a strict fitness routine throughout his political career, with daily workouts seen as a key to surviving long campaigns and the rigors of governing.
The impact of sports on the careers of businesswomen may be even stronger. In 2014, four hundred female executives were surveyed about their athletic experiences. 97% of the executives who had “chief” in their titles, had played sports at some point in their lives, 52% had played sports in college, and 53% still played some sport.
We shouldn’t be surprised that people manage to be physically active and do world-class work. We should recognize though that they do world-class work because they are physically active.
“In this book, I’ve argued that we should treat work and rest as equals; that we should treat rest as a skill; that the best, most restorative kinds of rest are active; and that when practiced well, rest can make us more creative and productive.”
Taking rest seriously requires recognizing its importance, and boldly making space for rest in our daily lives.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough! It could be life-changing.
Readability Light ---+- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High -+--- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of the recently released The Executive Update.
The author thinks that rest (which he calls “deliberate rest”) is a skill. That means you can get better at it. And he's convinced that we should spend time thinking about how well we rest just like we do about how well we work. Here’s the money quote.
“Rest is not work’s adversary. Rest is work’s partner. They complement and complete each other.
Further, you cannot work well without resting well. Some of history’s most creative people, people whose achievements in art and science and literature are legendary, took rest very seriously. They found that in order to realize their ambitions, to do the kind of work they wanted to, they needed rest. The right kinds of rest would restore their energy while allowing their muse, that mysterious part of their minds that helps drive the creative process, to keep going.”
He opens the book with a chapter on the problem of rest and one on the science of rest. The science part deals mostly with what we’ve learned about the Default Mode Network in the last couple of decades.
After that, the book is divided into two parts. Part 1 is about stimulating creativity. Part 2 is about sustaining creativity.
Are you picking up a pattern here? The author concentrates on creativity and not any of the other things that make up work and life. If that’s why you bought the book, great. It's not so great if you didn't.
The chapters follow a similar pattern. First, the author gives you examples, lots of examples of people acting in ways that you might want to try. Most of them are “history’s most creative people.” Almost all of them controlled their own schedule.
There's some science, too. Most of the science consists of studies where college sophomores are lab rats or neat new technology scanned some brains. There is excellent discussion of recent brain science involving the Default Mode Network.
The through-line for the book is Graham Wallas's creativity cycle. Wallas described it in his 1926 book, The Art of Thought. The Wallas cycle is an excellent way to understand how creativity works for most people, most of the time.
There are four parts to the cycle. The first part is Preparation, the conscious intensive work you do on a problem or a project. The second stage is Incubation. There, you step back from the problem and do something else for a while. While you're doing that, you may get to the third stage, Illumination. Illumination is the sudden flash of insight when an answer or inspiration comes to you. The fourth part of the cycle is Verification. This is where you do the work of converting an insight into something usable. You won't find much about Verification in this book, but the other three phases of the cycle get lots of coverage.
You'll get lots of ideas here that you may want to try. Most of those ideas are about stimulating or sustaining creativity. If that's your goal, consider also purchasing Mason Currey's excellent book, Daily Rituals.
This is a book for people who do creative work and control their schedules. If that's not you, you'll get some good ideas, but you might find another book more helpful.
The author doesn't make it easy for you to draw lessons out of this book. Consider it more as a collection of things you may want to try rather than a guidebook to being more creative or doing better work.
In a Nutshell
If you do creative work and control your schedule, you’ll get a lot from Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.
Among just about all the children I know, there is a frenetic pace of school and sports and studying and stuff, with little time to really rest and think randomly and just hang out. Would love to see this kind of thinking feed into approaches that might shift this over-scheduled pace to one that would more directly encourage rest and creativity over a full schedule.
Top reviews from other countries
We need little convincing of this and Pang’s use of science helps to reinforce the reader’s natural bias. However, doubts remain. For one: the people reading this will be self-selecting. Intelligent people are easily bored and read a lot of books like this. Readers should overcome their natural bias and ask uncomfortable questions. This story is largely held together by anecdotes – stories of great scientists and artists who followed the sort of work-life patterns that the author subscribes to. Yet anecdotes are not science. It gives a cosy feeling of confirmation to all our assumptions yet there must be many counter-anecdotes that are ignored. What is worse is the suspicion that this may muddle cause and effect. When I was at school, I was told by teachers that students with extra-curricular activities also did better academically. They reasoned that an under-performing student should take more outside interests to raise their grades. This could contain an obvious fallacy. What if being smarter simply leaves you more times for hobbies? What if your home life is more conducive to such a lifestyle? What if you just take after your parents? Smart people earn more money so can spend more money on other interests. There are plenty of reasonable ways that explain how being smart makes you good at other stuff. Maybe having a hobby doesn’t make you successful, maybe being successful is why you have a hobby?
So, if you read this book, do so with a healthy scepticism. Certainly, I needed no convincing of the idea that variety in life makes you a better, more rounded, person. I personally was able to go through the book feeling pleased with myself for ticking a few of the boxes: long walks? Check. Hobbies? Check. Prefer a four-hour day? Check. Easily bored an completely unable to do absolutely nothing? Check. Feel inspired by nature? Check. These are the keys to the good life. A life free of stress is important if you wish to live a long, satisfying, life. However, the examples are all of incredibly brilliant people. You can check all the boxes yet not have a Nobel Prize or a PhD. That doesn’t matter. In fact, knowing that doesn’t matter may well be a key point that Pang misses. The role of ambition. A lot of Pang’s arguments concern creative people. Yet what of you drive a lorry for a living? What does this book tell us about manual labour? It is all so much ivory tower musing. It could have been better. Don’t get to smug. Learn to look beyond the page.
its certainly given me plenty of food for thought and I'm sure it will change how I live my life to an extent
I read, flick and write notes in the book on a weekly basis; as I implement what's been researched. It forms one of my top ten reading books that include 'The Upward Spiral' The relevance and cross-over of facts regarding the neuroscience is sublime. These types of books-form my 'deep-play'
Thank you Alex Soojung & Kim Pang, for showing me the 'way'
A lot of this book really resonated with me and I experienced several “ah ha” moments. Many of which I can apply to my routine straight away.
I highly recommend this book.