Summary of Rest

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Are longer hours the answer to greater productivity? They’re not, according to Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. A workaholic lifestyle may feel like the road to success, it’s not, but the real secret to an effective, creative life is learning to practice “deliberate rest.” Pang leverages an entertaining, persuasive blend of neuroscience and anecdotes from the lives of influential figures to present his case for physical and mental rest. Pang’s explanation of why deliberate breaks enable better work repositions resting as an active endeavor, a skill to practice and a right you should claim. By showing how the best and brightest rely on skillful rest to achieve at the highest levels, Pang reveals why an addiction to empty busyness harms more than it helps. getAbstract recommends his research to self-professed workaholics and to those wanting a healthier, happier, more productive working life.

About the Author

Senior Consultant at Strategic Business Insights and former deputy editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica Alex Soojung-Kim Pang founded The Restful Company and is former deputy editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He has also worked as a technology forecaster and futurist.


A False Duality

Modern society often portrays rest as the absence or inverse of work. Common wisdom views rest, at best, as an inessential indulgence lacking merit and, at worst, as a distraction from more important things. This perspective about rest misconstrues its nature and how it interacts with work. Rest is work’s ally, not its enemy. Rest itself isn’t the absence of labor. “Deliberate rest” is a learned skill that boosts creativity and productivity.

The Resting Mind

Neuroscience research offers insights into how rest can help you think creatively. Brain scans show that when people stop working on external tasks, a “default mode network” continues solving problems during the subsequent rest period. Another brain phenomenon, “mind-wandering,” also activates when you perform more automatic activities, like cleaning. Letting your mind wander helps you manage memories, imagine future possibilities and connect parts of the brain that don’t interact when your mental focus is on external tasks.

In his 1926 book The Art of Thought, psychologist Graham Wallas argued that problem solving occurs in four stages:

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    B. C. 3 years ago
    Author says REM sleep is the deepest sleep cycle. Actually it is just the opposite.
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    K. W. 3 years ago
    There are some interesting ideas in here that I find a bit counter intuitive, but I am going to put in to practice to see if they work for me.

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