To embrace rest, slowness and not-doing, to unbusy and schedule time in advance to recharge seems counter-intuitive in a world where there’s always something that needs doing. You could tick something off your to-do list or search the internet endlessly, but the to-do’s will never be done and not taking time to unplug and switch off from work is actually holding you back.
In this interview, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, explains “It seems self-evident that more work equals more output. This is true of machines, so why shouldn’t it be true of us? Well it’s not. We have adopted industrial-age attitudes, and they don’t really work for us. There is also a long-standing assumption that not working is morally suspect.”
Is not-working laziness? Does our culture frown upon idleness because succeeding and accomplishing is more desirable and is an outward arbitrary indicator of ‘success in life’? We’re certainly taught at a young age to work hard – to keep your nose to the grindstone – and eventually receive a reward. But as Soojung-Kim Pang points out “Work and rest are actually partners… You can’t have the high without the better you are at resting, the better you will be at working.”
Rest is overlooked in a modern world of productivity and hyperconnection to technology. Why do less when you can do more? But more does not necessarily equal success, satisfaction or contentment (most likely long term it will bring overwhelm, anxiety and burnout). And if incorporating rest into your daily life improves your work life, then let go of the reigns a little and regularly schedule off time.
“I am a lot more conscious now when I am in line at the bank or have a couple of free minutes; rather than pulling up my phone and checking e-mail, I will let my mind wander. I think it’s a good discipline and I think I have become better at crafting those moments that invite insight. And I carry a little notebook and pen all the time now.” – Alex Soojung-Kim Pang