Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Category: Media (page 1 of 12)

Reviews, interviews, podcasts, and other appearances of me, REST, or The Distraction Addiction

Saiid Kobeisy talks about the importance of rest in Vogue Arabia

One of the greatest things about a book like REST is that it goes all kinds of places I don’t, and gets picked up by all kinds of interesting people. Case in point: Lebanese fashion designer Saiid Kobeisy, the subject of the Fall 2017 Haute Couture Review in Vogue Arabia.

After talking about this season’s line (which features “Light structured dresses, high collars, playing on volumes, with a touch of gold, and ivory cream colors,” in case you were wondering), the interviewer asks what he’s been reading. Kobeisy replies:

I’ve recently been flipping through the pages of a book entitled “Rest” by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. It’s about getting more work done by working less. In our busy lives, rest is defined by the absence of work, but in this book, the author explains about “active rest” which means doing activities while resting and not necessarily sleeping or watching TV. Dismissing rest suppresses our ability to think creatively and truly recharge. So I’m definitely trying to fit in some “deliberate rest” in my schedule.

AWESOME.

“10 Ways That Working Less Will Make You More Productive”

Singapore Women’s Weekly has a slide show of 10 Ways That Working Less Will Make You More Productive:

It’s hard to say no, especially when there’s work piling up to the walls at the office, but author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues in her book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less that this attitude is downright damaging.

I know. Just roll with it. So long as people read the book!

Talking about restful vacations on CBC Ontario Today

Scenes from Kauai

I was on CBC Radio’s call-in show “Ontario Today” earlier today, talking about “The key to a restful vacation.” You can listen here:

It was a fun time for me at least, partly because it involved more interaction with an audience than many radio interviews, and because I actually went into it with a certain amount of apprehension. To be honest, in Rest I have about six pages about vacations, so I was concerned that I’d have enough to say!

Fortunately, guest host Amanda Pfeffer was outstanding, and did a terrific job of guiding the conversation back to the book. I also do a fair amount of prep before these interviews, and now have a decent system for working through my notes and thinking about my responses, as you can see.

HipstaPrint

The Stanford Video folks (who are outstanding– they’re all the kinds of low-key professionals you want to work with during stressful situations, or just during moments when you need to be totally focused and on) keep a sheet music stand in the studio, and I make good use of it.

Beforehand, I’ll take some time to write out some notes, the key ideas I want to repeat or return to, and reminders to keep my answers short, stay on point, and let the host guide things. It’s usually the same set of notes, the same points, and same reminders every time (I am talking about the same book, after all); but it helps to write them out every time, to keep them fresh in my mind.

I also carry a copy of the book into the studio, though frankly I don’t refer to it during a live show– there’s not time to page through it.

You’ll notice a couple post-its, which have the host’s name– you never want to get that wrong– and the schedule for breaks.

I also keep my small notebook handy (in my lap), and write down the names of callers and the main points I want to make in response to their stories or questions. The virtue of this is that if I have only one or two points to make, I’ll make them more quickly if I can write them down and refer to them, and I’m less likely to strike off on some digression. I’m also more likely to get people’s names right if I write them down and can refer to them. Finally, if I can connect points that two callers 40 minutes apart make, I look like A Freaking Genius.

Today’s setup is not unusual for me. I’ve learned that interviews go better if I have some aide-memoire to jog my memory, or anchor the conversation. This was the desk when I was interviewed by Bob Edwards about The Distraction Addiction:

Bob Edwards interview

 

I’m very big on note-taking as a tool for thinking more clearly, as the book below illustrates, so realizing that doing it for interviews would help was a significant thing.

Reading is a martial art, 1

I think I’m getting better at interviews, though it’s like being a musician or teacher: it’s one of those pieces of craft that you can refine and improve for a lifetime. But at least I recognize that it’s a craft, and I’m learning how to build a structure that helps me do well and improve. (So I hope.)

Vacations, boredom, and stress: Recent articles and an upcoming radio show

Scenes from Kauai

I like to tell people that the only bad vacation is the one that you don’t take. There’s a ton of research on the benefits of vacations, both in the short run and the long run. But Quartz reports that “Going on vacation is stressful, according to recent surveys of workers:”

A poll of 1,000 UK workers conducted by Britain’s Institute of Leadership and Management noted that just the prospect of an upcoming vacation made 73% of respondents anxious. One 2015 survey from US medical information site Healthline found that 62% of over 2,000 readers who responded had “very or somewhat” elevated stress levels during winter holiday vacations. Finances are a major driver of vacation-related stress: CNV Vakmensen, a trade union in the Netherlands, surveyed its members in 2017, and found that being forced to take vacation at certain points of the year, such as the long summer break when children are out of school, stressed people out. Accommodation and travel options tend to be in higher demand during this time, which raises costs.

Then there’s the disruptions vacation can cause: In 2013, the Huffington Post surveyed 1,000 adult US workers, and found that having to work longer hours in the run-up to a vacation and longer hours afterwards to make up for lost time, stressed out potential vacation-takers.

I’m not going to alter my recommendation, because the virtues of time off from work are in my view way too well-established to argue that the potential stresses of vacations outweigh the gains.

Embankment

Rather than give up vacations, it would be better for us (and for companies) to learn how to deal better with the financial and logistical challenges. If you prospect of getting stuck at the airport or dealign with rental cars stresses you out, or paying for an expensive vacation keeps you up, the solution isn’t to stay at work: instead, it would be better to make more modest plans, but still take the time off.

San Gregorio State Beach

As a parent, I discovered that not being too worried about, or letting myself be too responsible for, my kids’ emotional states was important for me enjoying my vacation. In particular, I decided at a certain point that if my kids were bored, that was their problem; so long as they didn’t break stuff (or each other), they could be bored.

This is one of the big ideas behind Sandhya Nakani’s “Discover the Perfect Gift for Your Kid This Summer,” which applies some of the ideas in REST to kids and vacations. As she rightly notes, when a kid announces that “I’m bored!” it’s partly a declaration, but also “a challenge, with an embedded invitation for me to find something for her to do or to entertain her.” And it’s liberating to realize that it’s not a challenge we have to accept.

We go on in the article to talk about the role boredom and dealign with boredom plays in creative lives, and the role of down-time in kids’ psychological development.

The wave that may have killed my camera

If you want to skip the neuroscience and child psychology and just go for the listicle, I also offer “5 Summer Vacation Tips for Getting Serious About Rest,” starting with “take rest seriously” and ending with “let kids be bored.”

Finally, I’m talking about this tomorrow on “Ontario Today,” a call-in show on CBC Radio. Tune in and call in!

Find the time to give it a rest

Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury has a long piece (“Find the time to give it a rest“) about REST and Robert Dessaix’s fine book The Pleasures of Leisure:

Ever since my artist friend Maria La Grue told me she did her best painting while talking on the phone to a friend I’ve been fascinated by the notion of deliberate distraction and the possibility of achieving one thing while doing something else. Of working at something while not working at it.

This is not just the realm of artists or creative people who rely on letting go so their subconscious can take over. Think of the times you’ve tried to recall the name of a movie, find a lost object or solve a thorny problem. How you struggled for ages, racked your brain, strained your memory, only to have the answer come to you when you’d finally stopped trying and given it a rest.

Seemingly, it’s a bit of the brain we know little about but which in this overworked country is occupying the minds of some of our best thinkers. That is, that we operate at our best, most notably as high achievers, when we regard non-work, or downtime, as just as relevant and important as work itself. And that, rather than being in conflict, work and play are inextricably linked.

I confess I’ve never been to Tasmania– I’ve been to Perth on business, and stopped for a day in Sydney on the way home– but the piece makes me curious about what Hobart is like.

But having Rest there is almost as good. It’s always nice to see the book traveling and being read in places you’ve never been. It’s good for books to have lives of their own. Books are very much extensions of ourselves, but they’re also more than that; they reflect their author’s interests (and limitations), but they also can go in directions and places that we don’t anticipate. They’re a bit like children in that respect: yours but not yours to control, and your responsibility consists of making sure that they’re ready for the world when they leave.

Get Brainwashed: Talking about work and rest with Brainwash.nl

When I was in Amsterdam, I took some time to do an interview with the Web magazine Brainwash about REST, work in contemporary society, and creativity. The first section of the interview is now up.

In this section I talk about busyness, why it’s so pervasive and persistent, and how Western thinkers used to consider busyness a kind of moral failing or sloth (channeling the great Josef Pieper and his book Leisure the Basis of Culture).

I think another section will be up in the near future!

REST and the Greater Good Science Center

IMG_7733

The Greater Good Science Center’s Web site has an excerpt from REST about “How Resting More Can Boost Your Productivity:”

Rest has a bad rap in our culture. Most of us think about rest as merely the absence of work—not something valuable in its own right. Sometimes, it’s even equated with laziness.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

The excerpt edits out all the historical case studies, and really foregrounds the science– which is probably just what readers expect from the Center.

Views of, or from, Sather Tower

For me, it offers an interesting view of what the book might have been like if I hadn’t had the history.

It might be more compelling to some readers who are more science-focused, but I still like my version.

REST in Der Tagesspiegel

The German edition of REST (Pause: Tue weniger, erreiche mehr) came out a couple weeks ago, and this weekend Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin newspaper, ran a length excerpt, complete with illustration.

Article about REST in Der Tagesspiegel

I’m told that in the cartoon, the mother says, “She´s sleeping and sleeping and sleeping…!”. The father replies, “She´s going to be a genius.”

Haven’t seen it online yet, but between this, the great South African review, and a request I just got for an interview with a Dutch media outlet, I’m having an oddly sub-Saharan morning…

Need to brush up on your German? Read “So wichtig sind Pausen”

As thepPublication of the German edition of REST nears, the Austrian magazine Woman interviews me about work, stress, and rest:

Stress, Überarbeitung und wenig Schlaf gelten heute als cool. Doch wer ständig übers Limit geht, tut weder sich noch seiner Firma was Gutes. Wie essenziell wichtig Pausen sind und wie man sie optimal nützt, sagt US-Forscher Alex Soojung-Kim Pang im Talk.

Article in Health Bloggers Community Magazine

Health Blogger Magazine has a short piece by me asking (and answering) the question, “Can Working Less Make You More Productive?:”

In our busy lives we don’t think much about rest, nor do we regard it as important or interesting.

Rest is something we do if we have time or if we’re not too busy. Rest is simple: it’s inactivity, or a negative space defined by the absence of work. And if we treat overwork as a virtue or sign of ambition, we may even see rest as weakness. But as I argue in my new book Rest: Why We Get More Done When We Work Less, each of these assumptions are incorrect. In fact, some of history’s most creative and prolific people worked far fewer hours than we do, while accomplishing much more.

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