Our Review of ‘Rest’ by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Why you get more done when you work less

In the UK especially, we still seem to believe that we should be slaves to our desks to show our peers that we are pioneering, committed and hard working, and that the colleague that is seen to be beavering away well after the 5.00pm chime is the office hero and basically putting the rest of us to shame…but then in walks ‘Rest‘ to save us.

In the first part of the book the author Pang explores the daily lives and rigid routines kept by many great philosophers, scholars, creatives, and famous writers.  Take a couple of the all time greats for example such as Charles Dickens and Charles Dawrin.  Pang studied their daily rituals which widley started with an early rise, often referred as ‘the uninterrupted hours’.  During this time work would be set upon and uninterrupted for a solid 3-4 hours.  Literally this was seen as the time given to work each day for many of our highly accomomplished greats. The afternoon would then be dedicated to REST, and this by no means meant doing nothing, to the contrary, it was filled by walks with friends, hiking, riding, doing something creative, or just sitting and thinking. One important point to make here is; whatever the chosen Rest activity the break had to be ‘earned and deserved’.

When we stop and rest properly, we’re not paying a tax on creativity. We’re investing in it,” 

Pang also explores the benefits of walking and why so many of us do it recreationally, however, the benefits of breaking up the working day with frequent walks is being taken seriously by many large organisations and influencers.  Google’s Mountain View Campus  for example purposely has an array of walking tracks.  LinkedIn employees take to the bike and walking paths on their breaks, whilst Uber CEO Travis Kalanick walks 40 miles a week on an indoor track and we all know that Steve Jobbs was famous for his ‘walking meetings’. Many walkers consider it to be the best activity for problem solving and idea making, and others use it as a break from thinking about work .

I have walked myself into my best thoughts”

Now the opportunity for napping at work is very infrequent for most of us, however, for those fortunate enough to have experienced a workplace with a ‘sleep zone’ the benefits are staggering.  Just 15 minutes of shut eye can  recharge your mental batteries.  Winston Churchill was famous for his daily naps and he regarded them as essential to maintaining his healthy mental balance. Churchill was such a model to other leaders that he inspired others to adopt the routine too, JFK is just one example.

Pang writes. “It’s never been a gift. It’s never been something you do when you’ve finished everything else. If you want rest, you have to take it. You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.”

I have always believed in a healthy work life balance, maybe a little more than most of my colleagues! (they snigger), but you never know, by taking Rest a little more seriously we could all have better relationships, richer and more fulfilling lives and improved mental balance and health, ultimately guiding us into working smarter, rather than harder.

Carla Wells, The Offices