workplace health | November 02, 2016

First Look: Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s New Book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

“When we stop and rest properly, we’re not paying a tax on creativity. We’re investing in it,” says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in his new book, the succinctly titled Rest (December 6).

Indeed, modern culture seems obsessed with productivity, or even with working for work’s sake: we brag about living on four hours of sleep a night, answer emails on vacation, and fill our downtime with screens. But real downtime—or “deliberate rest,” as Pang calls it—is vital for thinking creatively, and for recharging our mental batteries. Gladwell’s 10,000-hours-to-mastery theory doesn’t quite cut it, Pang argues. It’s time for a couple tweaks to the recipe: add to the mix 12,500 hours of deliberate rest, and 30,000 of sleep.


To Pang, a successful Silicon Valley consultant and visiting scholar at Stanford University, working better doesn’t mean working more. Rest and sleep are instrumental in spurring creativity and productivity, and Pang appeals to giants, both historical and modern, to demonstrate this. Churchill napped daily, even through the Second World War. Darwin walked for hours, lost in contemplation. Bill Gates, even, took to spending weeks alone in his cabin. But the proofs here aren’t merely anecdotal. In Rest, Pang draws from cutting-edge neuropsychology, too—studies and scans show that wandering minds actually perform better than overworked ones. We need to tune out and turn off, not too much, but at least with some regularity.


Pang’s insights are perfect for office workers (looking to curb their hectic lifestyles) and managers (seeking a harmonious, productive workplace) alike, especially within the creative economy. In a culture that demands new ideas like clockwork, feeling overwhelmed has become the status quo. But Pang shows that this needn’t be the case. Creative high-achievers—across the board, in every field—use downtime to fuel their inventive minds. 


Until the book comes out, enjoy the full description from the publisher, Basic Books, below. And if Pang’s ideas resonate with you, drop by his blog “The Rest Project,” in which he regularly shares new rest- and productivity-related findings. 


One of Silicon Valley's sharpest strategists shows that success doesn't demand longer, harder hours, it demands that you work less.


For most of us, overwork is the new normal and rest is an afterthought. In our busy lives, rest is defined as the absence of work: late-night TV binges, hours spent trawling the internet, something to do once we've finished everything else on our to-do lists. But dismissing rest stifles our ability to think creatively and truly recharge.


In Rest, Silicon Valley consultant Alex Pang argues that we can be more successful in all areas of our lives by recognizing the importance of rest: working better does not mean working more, it means working less and resting better. Treating rest as a passive activity secondary to work undermines our chances for a rewarding and meaningful life. Whether by making space for daily naps, as Winston Churchill did during World War II; going on hours-long strolls like Charles Darwin; or spending a week alone in a cabin like Bill Gates, pursuing what Pang calls "deliberate rest" is the true key to fulfillment and creative success. Drawing on rigorous scientific evidence and revelatory historical examples, Rest overturns everything our culture has taught us about work and shows that only by resting better can we start living better.


To hire keynote speaker Alex Soojung-Kim Pang for a talk on his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.


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