Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less


Arianna Huffington and I talk about REST at DLD17

“You will consider how and why you rest in a completely new light after reading this book.” (Wendy Suzuki, author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life)

“You’re holding some terrific advice in your hands on the virtues of walking, napping, and playing. Pang has written a delightful and thought-provoking book on the science of restful living.” (Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think)

My new book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less was officially published on December 6, and is available at your local bookstore, on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere.

It’s published by Basic Books in the United States, and Penguin Books in the UK (as part of their wonderful new Penguin Life series).

Here I’m collecting links to promotion-related activitiesarticles about the book and deliberate restreviews, as well as information about my talksinterviewsradio shows, and other media appearances.

I’m also continuing to collect research and stories about the subjects I cover in Rest: stories about the role of deliberate rest in creative lives, research on the neuroscience and psychology of creativity, the challenges of busyness and overwork, and so on.

Toy-free play

The Atlantic has a piece about the German practice of putting away toys in kindergarten for a period in order to encourage children to learn to rely more on their own imaginations and social abilities when they play– and develop the inner resources to resist addictions later in life.

It grew out of an addiction study group… in the 1980s. The group included people who had worked directly with adult addicts and determined that, for many, habit-forming behavior had roots in childhood. To prevent these potential seeds of addiction from ever being planted, the researchers ultimately decided to create a project for kitas and kindergartens, which in Germany typically serve children ages 3 to 6, and remove the things children sometimes use to distract themselves from their negative feelings: toys.

Deliberate rest and daily schedules

Writer and artist Carey Dunne has a piece in Quartz that talks about deliberate rest and daily schedules, and argues for shorter, more focused working days:

An underlying assumption driving today’s pervasive cult of productivity is that the more hours you work, the more you get done. This seems like a logical enough formula, but it is also leading to an epidemic of job-induced stress and burnout. Regardless, being perpetually “busy” has become a 21st-century status symbol; the option to work fewer than the average American’s 34.4 hours a week (or a whopping 47 for full-time workers) is usually a privilege reserved for the leisure class.

But according to a growing anti-workaholism movement, the counterintuitive key to greater productivity could be working fewer hours. In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work LessSilicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang makes the case for a four-hour workday. “Decades of research demonstrate that the correlation between the number of hours worked and productivity is very weak,” says Pang, a Stanford University visiting scholar and founder of the Restful Company.

Always nice to see a writer get the space she needs to dive deeply into a subject, especially when your work is the subject. Read the whole thing.

Happy National Napping Day!

Davis

Since today is National Napping Day, I thought I would highlight this recent article by Christopher Lindholst in Corporate Wellness Magazine:

As companies review and adjust their budgets for the year currently underway, there’s a line item many may be overlooking: naps. Sleeping on the job was an activity companies frowned on in the past; it could even be a firing offense. But, as scientific evidence showing how beneficial short rest periods are for productivity and learning becomes more widely known company leaders are rethinking their sleep policies.

Today, many world-renowned enterprises — including Google, Mercedes Financial and AXA have onsite napping pods. They know that short rest periods during the workday can sharpens employees’ minds, help prevent chronic disease and enhance learning retention. Napping facilities also help employees beat the “afternoon crash” so many office workers experience.

The fact that high-tech companies and other industry leaders are budgeting for naps gives the workplace short-rest concept a distinctly modern cast. But, the fact is, napping has always been a secret weapon of high-achieving leaders, including Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, all of whom made a daily nap part of their workday regimen, according to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.

Research shows that a recharging nap can also enhance creativity as well as sharpen leadership skills. And Pang notes that many famously creative people scheduled short rest periods into their daily routine, including writers J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Jonathan Franzen, Thomas Mann and Stephen King. Once derided as the habit of slackers, naps are actually a favorite tactic of workaholics.

So take a nap!

Reader video about REST

One of the things that’s been most gratifying about REST is that it’s attracted some very thoughtful readers and reviewers– most recently Canadian coach and healer Fia-Lynn Crandall, who talks about the book in a recent video.

And extra points to Fia-Lynn for pronouncing my name correctly!

Deliberate rest is a good thing. Don’t just take my word for it.

Leisure activities and mental health: The case of unemployment

While I was writing REST, one of the things I realized about practices like daily walks and deep play is that, in addition to the direct benefits they provide in the way of restoration and creative stimulus, they’re also valuable to people because they give structure to their lives.

For them, a daily routine isn’t an impediment to creativity. Routine provides a scaffolding that makes them more productive, and setting aside time for deliberate rest helps increase the odds* that they’ll be more creative. A routine also makes it easier to say no to less-important tasks. It also provides a greater sense of control over your life. When Nelson Mandela was in prison, he still maintained his boxer’s workout routine, even though he was doing manual labor. This wasn’t because he needed to be extra buff to break rocks. It was a way of asserting his own control over his life.

Now, a new study looks at the role leisure can play in helping provide structure in the lives of the unemployed.
Continue reading

Gardening and deep play

Journalist Deborah Bogle talks about REST, digital distraction and the appeal of gardening in Adelaide Now:

[A smartphone is] the last thing I want to take with me into the garden. What I love most about being there is surrendering myself entirely to the tasks at hand. Clearing out overgrown beds, digging in compost for new plantings, transplanting, repotting, pruning, feeding – whatever the job, working in the garden is the best way I know to untether my brain from pretty much everything that’s going on in my world, and especially all the frantic activity of social media feeds, news updates, SMS alerts and phone calls that keep us captive once our screens are in our hands.

There’s extensive research on the psychological benefits of being in natural surroundings (summarized in Florence Williams’ new book The Nature Fix). But one of the things I observed when I was writing Rest was that for a number of my subjects, gardening wasn’t just an opportunity to spend time outdoors and get exercise (though it was both of those things); it was also a form of deep play.
Continue reading

“Rest condemns neither hard work nor perfectionism, but rather celebrates both”

Scenes from Tokyo

The Japanese edition of REST will be out in a few weeks, and I’ve started thinking about pieces that I could pitch to magazines and newspapers.

But it turns out that Joji Sakurai beat me to it in the New Statesman: Continue reading

I’m interviewed on local access middle school TV

So in January I was in Munich, being interviewed by Arianna Huffington.

This month, I was interviewed on KMTV Winter Middle School Camp. (My nephew was in the camp, and invited me to be interviewed.)

It was fun. You can watch it in the embed above; my interview starts at 33:40. Or watch it on YouTube.

Just remember: there’s no such thing as a small media request.

Giant neurons wrap around mice brains

Well, this announcement is interesting: A giant neuron found wrapped around entire mouse brain:

A new digital reconstruction method shows three neurons that branch extensively throughout the brain, including one that wraps around its entire outer layer. The finding may help to explain how the brain creates consciousness.

The neurons are found in a section of the brain called the claustrum, which is buried under the neocortex. It hasn’t been studied very much, for several practical reasons, but it’s been the focus of intense interest by a couple really important people.
Continue reading

Talking about “The Importance of Rest” on RadioWest

From my appearance on "West Coast Live" at Berkeley Freight & Salvage

My interview with Doug Fabrizio on The Importance of Rest | RadioWest is now up on the KUER Web site. Doug was a fabulous interviewer, so it’s a particularly good conversation.

For most of us, overwork is the new normal and rest is an afterthought. But the scholar Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says that by dismissing the importance of rest in our lives we stifle our ability to think creatively and truly recharge. Pang will join us to talk about his new book that examines why long walks, afternoon naps, vigorous exercise, and “deep play” stimulate creative work and sustain creative lives.

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