Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Category: REST (page 1 of 19)

Rest with Alex Pang, Episode 4: Jessica de Bloom and the Science of Vacations

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-wn9tz-952bd4

Since we’re in the middle of summer break, I thought it would be fitting to take a break from the shorter hours interviews, and talk about something that’s on everyone’s mind: vacations.

Many of us have a conflicted relationships with vacations. We expect a lot from them, we spend a lot on them, but we don’t always get everything we want from them. When we go somewhere new, our default mode is to pack the days full of activities (this is doubly true if you have children), then we come home feeling like we need a vacation to recover from our vacation.

If we want vacations that are restorative, that recharge us and restore our energy, is there a better way?

In this episode I talk with Jessica de Bloom about the science of vacations. De Bloom is one of a number of academics who have been studying the psychology of restorative activities. I originally discovered her work when I was writing Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, and so it was a pleasure to talk to her in person about her work.

De Bloom’s work has some counterintuitive conclusions about vacations and breaks, and if you like getting away but feel like you’re not getting what you need out of your time away, this episode is for you.

Mentioned in this episode:

Rest, medical education, and Clifford Geertz’s lawn

The Center for Medical Simulation at Harvard discusses Rest in the latest episode of their podcast. It’s a great conversation: in addition to providing a good overview of the book, they talk about deep play, the challenges of making time for rest when you’re a doctor, and other practical things.

Listening to it, I was struck by how much of a role social norms play in making rest more or less available to busy people, by defining whether it’s okay to rest during the day, or rest when other people are still working (which these days means all the time). Robert Simon, the Center’s senior director for educational leadership and international programs (and hence no slacker) says,

I have really tried not to get into my email on the weekends. What I experienced was, “Oh, that’s good” from my colleagues— and then a sense of disappointment from time to time that I hadn’t read something that was important to them… the social pressure that comes from, “You’re resting? Really? You’re not measuring up to my expectations.” I would say something similar about going to take a nap during the day: “I’m working and you’re just sleeping?”

So I think it has to do with some kind of social contract that plays into that….

I try to work at home one day a week. Invariably, I rest for half an hour. Every time, I do that, and I feel so much better for it. That’s so easily accomplished at home, and not when I’m in the office.

I think that we can’t underestimate the value of synchronizing rest time in the workplace, whether it’s by having regular rituals, or shortening the workday. It eliminates the social stigma attached to rest, but also eliminates a lot of the pressure that flexible schedules place on individuals.

Host Jenny Rudolph also shares this great anecdote about Clifford Geertz:

For many years… [Geertz] rented the house next to us in Vermont every summer. And [by the end of his visit] the grass down by the lake right in front of his house… was completely worn down because hw walked back and forth, back and forth, for several hours every day, thinking about his books.

This is not a story I’ve ever run across, and doubt I ever would, so thanks, Jenny!

Rest with Alex Pang, Episode 3: Spencer Kimball and Free Fridays at Cockroach Labs

In this episode I talk to Spencer Kimball, cofounder of Cockroach Labs , a startup that’s reinventing how databases work. It’s kind of technical, but fortunately Spencer does a great job of explaining what they’re doing. He also does an excellent job of explaining Cockroach Labs’ “Free Fridays,” and how they’ve designed their work week to give everyone one day a week to work on their own projects, even as they build a product designed to compete against products made by giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle.

I also talk to Clive Thompson about why 20% time is a significant perk for software developers, and more gnerally, the place that free time plays in the professional and intellectual lives of programmers.

Mentioned in this episode:

Digital nomads on the s-curve

Aloha from Kauai!

The digital nomads movement exists in a bit of a legal grey area: people who travel the world, renting houses or hanging out in coworking spaces while freelancing or building their businesses can be considered to be violating their tourist visas, even though they’re essentially bringing work with them. (On the other hand, since they’re generally not hiring locals under the table to work on their businesses, and tend to be more law-abiding and quieter than backpackers who are looking for the next great rave, they also tend not to attract a lot of Official Attention.)

Now, Thailand— which is one of the hobs of the digital nomad movement— is now creating a new visa designed in part for digital nomads:

Thailand’s Smart Visa will only be available to people who work in “S-Curve” industries such as automation and robotics, biotech, and next-gen automotive. The visa will allow holders to work in Thailand without a work permit for four years, compared to one year previously. It’s a one-of-a-kind visa that I hope will be replicated in other countries, especially those looking to expand their talent base and offer companies the best talent from all over the world, instead of hindering them with current archaic visa rules and regulations.

The concept of an s-curve visa— effectively, one that makes it easier for people in new, high-tech industries of the future to come work in your country— is something I’ve not seen before.

I did a few interviews with digital nomads for REST, but I never quite got that section to work. Hwoever, I might go back and do some interviews for the podcast, as they’re managing their time and working hours in some interesting ways.

Rest with Alex Pang, Episode 2: Annie Tevelin and SkinOwl’s 24-Hour Week

More Los Angeles.

This week on my podcast I talk to Annie Tevelin, founder and head of SkinOwl, a Los Angeles-based cosmetics company that works a 24-hour week. SkinOwl makes vegan cosmetics (apparently the Geranium Beauty Drops are quite popular), and Annie started the company after working as a market up artist in Hollywood for Lancôme and studying cosmetic chemistry at UCLA.

When she founded SkinOwl, Annie didn’t want a company that expected the kinds of crazy hours that are typical in Hollywood, and she’s created a workplace in which people are able to quickly fill orders, deal with customers, handle thousand-item B2B orders (the products are available on five continents), all in a four-day week. And those are 6-hour days, not 10-hour days.

This was an especially fun interview, and quite enlightening for me: not only did I learn a few things about working shorter hours, I also learned a little about cosmetics, a world that to be honest was a black box before now. An exquisitely designed, tasteful black box, protected by a friendly yet intimidating sales person.

Annie Tevelin and SkinOwl’s 24-Hour Week

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7dhzh-942a06

In this episode, I talk to Annie Tevelin, the founder of Los Angeles-based cosmetics company SkinOwl. Annie founded SkinOwl after studying cosmetics chemistry at UCLA; before that, she had a career in Hollywood as a makeup artist with Lancôme. SkinOwl is sold online, and is sold on five continents– not bad for a small company that operates on a 4-day week and a 6-hour day.

Annie talks about her background, how SkinOwl provides great customer service and feedback while giving people Mondays off, and how to fill six thousand bottles of Geranium Beauty Drops.

Mentioned in this podcast:

Have feedback? Ideas for future episodes? Leave a comment and let me know!

This week in “where REST is popping up:” cloud-based compensation consulting, Australian massage parlour

REST waiting to go on the shelves at Books Inc in Palo Alto.

So two more social worlds where REST has attracted notice. First, in the HR and compensation consulting world:

Cloud compensation solution provider PayScale has announced that it will close for the week of the Fourth of July holiday. Inspired by the book, Rest, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, company executives decided to have employees fully unplug from work during the entire Fourth of July week.

Second, Kings Court Massage, which bills itself as “Sydney’s best location for a spa and sexy massage,” recently tweeted about REST:

Too awesome!

“How You Can Use Rest as a Tool for Success:” My latest piece on Thrive Global

Arianna Huffington and I share a byline on a new piece on Thrive Global explaining “How You Can Use Rest as a Tool for Success:”

The lives of Nobel prize-winning scientists, famous novelists, and composers described Rest may seem very different from our own. But even if your day jobs don’t resemble Albert Einstein’s or Toni Morrison’s, we can apply lessons from their lives to our lives. After all, we can learn from elite athletes about how to train, compete, and take care of our ourselves even if we don’t aspire to Usain Bolt-like swiftness.

So what rules guided their rest? They can be distilled down to a Ten Commandments of Rest.

Check out the article to read more.

Weekend listening: Psychologists Off the Clock

I was recently on the Psychologists Off the Clock podcast, talking to Yael Schonbrun about Rest, deliberate rest, and how kids are vampires (though I’m not 100% sure that last part made it through edits).

Yael is super-smart, and we had a good conversation.

And while you’re at it, check out my podcast, and my interview with Stephan Aarstol.

Deliberate rest goes new places

I’ll confess: I didn’t write Rest with the aim of it being picked up by people writing on subjects things like executive staffing and book marketing, but that’s one of the great things about the book: it’s a tool that’s useful in domains I know nothing about.

Though I really should learn more about book marketing.

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