Rest

This post is based on the book Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, which considers why we get more done and do it better when we ensure we get enough rest.

The premise of this book goes against the popular belief that working hard, being busy and having no downtime are all signs of productivity and key ingredients of success. Its four key messages are:

  1. Work and rest are partners.
  2. Rest is active – “Physical activity is more restful than we expect, and mental rest is more active than we realise.”
  3. Rest is a skill – “Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.”
  4. Deliberate rest stimulates and sustains creativity.

To get the full picture, I recommend reading the whole book, but I want to share some of what I consider to be the key takeaways:

  • You only need to do what sounds like a small amount of work each day, approximately four hours, to be extremely productive and efficient. The trick is to be consistent in your work, and committed to it.
  • Naps can be an effective way to boost energy, inspiration and productivity, as they are a way to divide the day in two, thus providing a second wind.
  • It is helpful to stop what you’re doing before you finish it properly, so that you’ll have somewhere easy to pick up next time. Also, your brain will keep working away at the task if you leave a little thread for it to pull at.
  • Recovery experiences are a necessary part of rest, and have four key components: relaxation, control, a sense of mastery, and detachment from work.
  • Taking time away from your work can be an essential part of making what you do sustainable. It may also be one of the best ways to get a healthy sense of perspective on what you do, meaning you’ll come back with new energy and ideas.
  • No one teaches you how to rest. We’re taught how to work, but learning how to rest is just as important in making us productive, successful and fulfilled.

In this book, rest has many similarities with self-care, the idea that we need to take care of our physical, mental and emotional needs in order to function well, be productive and succeed. There are a lot of important lessons in this book for people who are ambitious, prone to overwork, and perfectionistic – i.e. people like me.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

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