Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Tag: interview (page 1 of 3)

My appearance on BBC World Service Business Daily

Setup for my BBC World Business Daily interview.

Yesterday I was at Stanford Radio, doing an interview for BBC World Service Business Daily. Their episode on “A Work-Life Balance” is now online.

Should we be working less to achieve more? Maddy Savage reports from Sweden, where workers are trying to balance the traditional outdoor life with longer working hours and increased screen time. Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang puts forward his argument for working less and taking ‘active rest‘ in order to get more done. And could you save time by outsourcing your life? University of California, Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild talks about her research into the rise of outsourcing careers in the United States.

I appear around 06:45, and the producer did a good job of taking the interview and turning it into something that sounds coherent! And it’s always extra fun to be on a show that you listen to. I don’t tune in regularly, but I often listen to BBC World Service, so I catch it now and then.

I can’t figure out how to embed the player, alas.

Jabra video on deliberate rest

In September when I was in Europe, I gave a talk at Jabra corporate headquarters, just outside Copenhagen (where I had some excellent food, and saw some cool cats). We shot some video of me talking about deliberate rest, and Jabra has now created a short video from it. (Sorry about the auto-play.)

As a place that makes some outstanding headsets for office use, Jabra is really interested in issues of focus and concentration in business environments, so it turned out to be a great place to talk about deliberate rest and my earlier work on contemplative computing. (I’ll confess I have no fewer than four pair of Jabra headphones– two sets that I’ve used for everyday listening, a pair of their Bluetooth earbuds, and a set of noise-canceling office headphones. They’re all awesome.) And of course they did a great job with the video!

A few months ago I was doing an Al Jazeera show, and during the sound check beforehand one of the other guests described me as “the silver gent.” I suppose I see what he meant. Mentally I don’t feel like i’ve aged in the last twenty years (I feel like fundamentally the same person I was when I was a postdoc, or first married), but I have gotten more silver.

And anyone who meets me on the road is likely to see me wearing some variation of those clothes– the black shirt and black cashmere jacket, and jeans. What can I say; one of my professors extolled the virtues of wearing black on the road, and I still dress that way out of respect for her.

“Accomplishment is the best form of self-affirmation”

My latest interview, a conversation with journalist Kristen Marano in You Inc., was just published:

How do you build yourself up in moments of self-doubt? 

I’ve gone through enough cycles of self-doubt (about a million) to know that they pass eventually, usually in a day or two. To move the cycle along though, it always helps to cross off even small things on my to-do list: return emails, finish some mindless piece of work, even clean the bathroom. Accomplishment is the best form of self-affirmation.

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.


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.)

Kurt Vonnegut: “I get up at 7:30 and work four hours a day.”

One of the most consistent findings in REST is how many really prolific and creative people do their most important work in about four focused hours a day. They’re not taught that this is a magic number; they often start their careers as workaholics; and some find this sweet spot when they’re younger, others when they’re in middle age of later.

Add Kurt Vonnegut to this list, as Literary Hub contributor Emily Temple notes in this piece on “Kurt Vonnegut’s Greatest Writing Advice:”

I get up at 7:30 and work four hours a day. Nine to twelve in the morning, five to six in the evening. Businessmen would achieve better results if they studied human metabolism. No one works well eight hours a day. No one ought to work more than four hours. (From an interview with Robert Taylor in Boston Globe Magazine, 1969)

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.

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.

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.

On Inside Mastery

I’m a guest on this week’s Inside Mastery podcast, talking with host Martin Soorjoo about REST,  performance, and productivity. You can listen on Soundcloud, or iTunes.

This picture of me on the Inside Mastery Web page is a bit goofy (it’s from an event I did in Los Angeles a few years ago), but the conversation was fun and informative.

And Martin gets some very interesting guests– Two Awesome Hours author Josh Davis, and Sleep author Nick Littlehales, both of whom are really smart, were on earlier episodes– so it’s well worth subscribing to the podcast.

REST in Red Bulletin magazine; or, beaten by Metallica in four languages

Red Bulletin March 2017

Red Bulletin, the magazine published by energy drink company Red Bull, has an interview with me about Rest. The magazine is better-known for running pieces about extreme sports, rock musicians, sports cars, and the like; but I guess they recognize that ice climbing after driving your Aston Martin from the rock concert can get tiring.
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