Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Category: Review (page 1 of 3)

REST is available as an audiobook

The audiobook version of Rest is now available in the United States, just in case you’re still looking for that perfect Christmas present! You can listen to a sample on .

The reader, Adam Sims, is a big deal: he just won Audio Narrator of the Year for his recording of Flowers for Algernon (one of my favorites).

And he does a good job with Rest. As Audio File magazine says of his performance,

In no-nonsense, declarative tones that suit the author’s style, narrator Adam Sims moves the author’s message ahead at just the right pace as he delivers a mix of scientific studies and anecdotes about writers, scientists, and other creative types who thrive by insisting on integrating leisure into their schedules.

I mean, I guess that’s good.

“Love Hope Peace” on REST

Australian writer Emma Missen has a good gloss on REST on her Love Hope Peace blog. “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,” she says. Glad it’s proved useful!

“I think anyone in any type of creative, scientific, or business field should pick this up:” more reviews of REST

Romance writer Roni Loren (you might know her from her nine-book Loving on the Edge series, or maybe the two-book Pleasure Principle series, or her eight other books, and I’m getting exhausted just writing this) reviews Rest on her blog. She recommends it: “I think anyone in any type of creative, scientific, or business field should pick this up,” which is great to read.

But in keeping with my feeling that utility is just as important as beauty, I really consider THIS to be high praise: “[U]sing a lot of these methods over the last week has resulted in a week of steady writing, hitting my word count every day, and having no stress about it. It’s been fantastic.”

Also, Elyse Romano explains “Why Doing Nothing and Wasting Time Are Actually Good For You.” As she writes, “When we blend deliberate rest with deliberate work, we are smarter, more creative, and happier people.” It’s one of the few articles in D’Marge that doesn’t feature Eastern European lingerie models and doesn’t have an [NSFW] warning in the title. Though it does describe itself as a magazine “for Magnificent Bastards,” a phrase I can only repeat in my mind in . And some people read Playboy for the interviews.

Finally, Paul Gaffney has a nod to Rest in his Irish News article about the importance of vacation— and the challenge of taking a vacation that’s actually restful, rather than stressful.

Entrepreneurs reading Rest

Recently I noticed several entrepreneurs and career coaches who’d reviewed , and wanted to capture some links to their work.

  • Business coach Curtis McHale (his motto is “Running a successful business should leave time to be a good dad!”) argues that “The Long and Strong Career You Want is Marked by Rest.” “[D]o I recommend you read Rest? Yes, I do. More than that, I recommend you incorporate times of no work into your day. I recommend you build in weeks away from anything digital. If you can read this book and put its ideas into practice, you’re going to get more done and have longer to contribute to your field in a meaningful way.
  • Vancouver, Washington-based filmmaker and entrepreneur Chris Martin talks about rest and recovery on his Getting Work to Work podcast. He has a shrewd observation about learning to “press the reset button” on your life, and the particular challenge entrepreneurs and founders face in learning to rest.
  • “Most projects that change the world take at least 10 years,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong writes in his post about Rest on Medium, “so practicing the rest skillset feels important for anyone who wants to have an impact.” Good point! (Also: “I’ve see so much material out there about work, it feels like the other side of the coin, rest, has often been overlooked.” You’re welcome!)
  • Ovidijus Okinskas takes time off from writing about Java and PDF on the IDR Solutions blog to talk about Rest. “I personally found it can open you up to the ways the mind works and recovers,” he says, and “can completely alter your outlook on how you should treat the two supposed ‘opposite forces’ and allow them to benefit each other.”
  • Sustainable leadership expert David Ducheyne, Chief People Officer for Securex, suggests that “maybe we need to train (young) people in the art of rest, because many people seem to have lost it….. [I]f we talk about sustainable employability, rest might be the key to combine health and competence development.”
  • Expat career advisor Tim Rettig writes about “Why All Expats Need Regular Periods of Conscious Rest.” Most expats are not only caught in the usual cultural traps of long hours and performing busyness; “the problems… [of] adapting to a new environment come in addition to the existing problems of the modern society.” So perhaps more than most people, “Expatriates need to plan consciously during which blocks of time they work or expose themselves to other forms of stress, and during which blocks of time they make the space for conscious ways of resting.”

Of course, it’s always flattering to see people say nice things about your work, but what’s really gratifying is to see them thinking about how to put it to use. The Roman poet Horace argued that poetry should be dulce et utile, beautiful and useful (or a sweet and useful thing, depending on your preferred translation); it’s always great to see readers take a book seriously enough to apply it to their own lives.

“rest is as important” as “ticking off all those items on our to-do list:” Readers on REST

One of the great pleasures of having written Rest is coming across feedback on Twitter or blogs from readers who’ve enjoyed the book and put it to use in their lives. I’ve posted about some of of these reader reviews (and videos) before. Today, I came across three such mentions, on three continents, and that seemed worth a post.

First, communication director tweets from Wales (or maybe somewhere warmer?):

(I always like seeing the book in the wild!)

Actually, tweeted nice things about the book too…

…though it kind of looks like the book is about to get chucked in the pool.

Second, Northcote, Australia-based coach Tess Bartlett writes about “How to transform burn out to intentional rest.” As she so elegantly put it, “rest is as important, if not more important, than ticking off all those items on our to-do list,” and she has a number of concrete suggestions for how to make more space for rest in a busy life.

On the other side of the world, in New York, lawyer E. David Smith writes about how reading Rest encouraged him to reset his daily routine to better reflect what really matters to him, without neglecting the practice he founded:

I started leaving the office at 5:15 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. I started concentrating on my kids and giving them the attention they really needed. It wasn’t that they’d been neglected before, but it has been incredible seeing them blossom – getting used to having me around more, and knowing they can come to me anytime. That is my number one priority.

None of this has taken a thing away from my clients….

I wish I could tell you how much my life has improved since I’ve started taking these simple steps to refocus.

It all hinges on one simple fact: my business exists to support my family, not to take me away from them.

Of course, I’m grateful for positive reviews of the book, like Nilanjana Roy’s very thoughtful review in the Financial Times and Arianna’s incomparable review in the New York Times; but it’s really gratifying to see people take the book and make it their own.

Find the time to give it a rest

Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury has a long piece (“Find the time to give it a rest“) about and Robert Dessaix’s fine book The Pleasures of Leisure:

Ever since my artist friend Maria La Grue told me she did her best painting while talking on the phone to a friend I’ve been fascinated by the notion of deliberate distraction and the possibility of achieving one thing while doing something else. Of working at something while not working at it.

This is not just the realm of artists or creative people who rely on letting go so their subconscious can take over. Think of the times you’ve tried to recall the name of a movie, find a lost object or solve a thorny problem. How you struggled for ages, racked your brain, strained your memory, only to have the answer come to you when you’d finally stopped trying and given it a rest.

Seemingly, it’s a bit of the brain we know little about but which in this overworked country is occupying the minds of some of our best thinkers. That is, that we operate at our best, most notably as high achievers, when we regard non-work, or downtime, as just as relevant and important as work itself. And that, rather than being in conflict, work and play are inextricably linked.

I confess I’ve never been to Tasmania– I’ve been to Perth on business, and stopped for a day in Sydney on the way home– but the piece makes me curious about what Hobart is like.

But having Rest there is almost as good. It’s always nice to see the book traveling and being read in places you’ve never been. It’s good for books to have lives of their own. Books are very much extensions of ourselves, but they’re also more than that; they reflect their author’s interests (and limitations), but they also can go in directions and places that we don’t anticipate. They’re a bit like children in that respect: yours but not yours to control, and your responsibility consists of making sure that they’re ready for the world when they leave.

“there isn’t even a whiff of hippie wishy-washiness:” Readers review REST

has received some excellent reviews in places like the New York Times and… well, there’s no place quite like the New York Times, but it’s gotten positive press in the Financial Times, the Guardian, and lots of other magazines, newspapers, and business Web sites.

These are of course gratifying (and occasionally the reviewers read the book closely enough to identify ways it could have been better, which I honestly do appreciate); but I also find that Rest attracts readers who are also pretty thoughtful reviewers. In the last couple days, I’ve come across two of these in particular that stand out.

First is by British writer Vicky Charles:

Many books in this field can easily fall into that wishy-washy area of “just take a break, man” – with no actual logic or science behind it. We all know it’s “good” for us to rest, but we all also have a never-ending to-do list and numerous other responsibilities to keep us busy from dawn til dusk. Taking time out is hard to justify if your workload is still as heavy as ever.

What I love about this book is that while it is clearly about taking a break and all the ways you can or should go about doing that, there isn’t even a whiff of hippie wishy-washiness. The book references numerous scientific studies as well as examples of famous and not-so famous people from the modern day and from history. For example, did you know that even at the height of the Second World War, Churchill still got changed in to pyjamas and had a nap every day? Hitler, on the other hand, did not.

Second is this review by pseudonymous writer Veronica Rey:

This concept of active and deliberate rest was the biggest takeaway of the book for me. Rest is not about doing nothing, the author argues. It’s about doing the things that give our brains a break, even if it’s physically strenuous….

As a result of reading this book, I’ve been more intentional about working focused, followed by active rest. It shocked me to discover how hard this was for me! I’m so used to working, working, working that I had to force myself to practice giving my brains a break. After a week or two, I could see benefits already, though, most notably better sleep and way better concentration. I have to admit I slacked off after that, so I’ll have to pick it up again. Like any and all habits, rest, too, takes time to acquire.

By a nice coincidence, Rey is a fan of the work of Jane McGonigal, with whom I collaborated when I worked at Institute for the Future, a number of years ago.

The thing about reader reviews is that while publishing a review in the New York Times is partly about getting your own name in the paper, having a chance to shape The Public Conversation, or giving a new author a leg up (or settle scores with an old rival), reader reviews are motivated mainly by a reader’s own interest, and their sense that your books is worth their taking the time to write about. It’s less a professional work than a gift. (Which is not to say that they’re not as well-written or insightful, only that there’s not so much calculation that goes into them.)

Reader reviews are also different in that they often show how people are using your book. Veronica Rey’s blog, for example, documents her efforts at self-improvement through SuperBetter, and she read Rest as part of an effort to learn how to work and rest better. So the fact that she found it worthwhile, and was able to put it to use, is extra gratifying. It’s cool when someone thinks you’ve written a good book, in the sense of producing a good example of the craft; it’s really terrific when someone is able to use your book to (however slightly) improve their own lives.

And to be totally honest, I was really careful not to sound at all hippyish when writing Rest. Every time I started writing something that sounded vaguely like 1970s-era Jerry Brown, I shut it down. So thanks for noticing, Vicky!

REST in Der Tagesspiegel

The German edition of REST (Pause: Tue weniger, erreiche mehr) came out a couple weeks ago, and this weekend Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin newspaper, ran a length excerpt, complete with illustration.

I’m told that in the cartoon, the mother says, “She´s sleeping and sleeping and sleeping…!”. The father replies, “She´s going to be a genius.”

Haven’t seen it online yet, but between this, the great South African review, and a request I just got for an interview with a Dutch media outlet, I’m having an oddly sub-Saharan morning…

“I cannot recommend this book highly enough!”

“I cannot recommend this book highly enough!” South African strategy consultant Ian Mann says in his review of on Fin24, a South African business Web site. “It could be life-changing.”

Always nice to have good readers!

The importance of taking rest seriously

“IF LIVING excitedly and hurriedly would only enable us to do more, then there would be some compensation, some excuse, for doing so. But the exact reverse is the case.”

That was the opinion of William James, the philosopher, psychologist and physician, in 1899. I wonder what he would say of our 24/7, always-on world, where the concept of turning off is an anachronism?

Many business people today treat stress and overwork as a badge of honour, and will brag about how little they sleep and how few holidays they take. However, as Dr Soojung-Kim Pang shows, it is a mistake to think of rest as nothing more than the absence of work. Rest is work’s partner that, when correctly understood, improves output exponentially, and the quality of our lives commensurately.

It includes a pretty thorough gloss of the book. If you never actually read the book (which would be a shame), but want to know what it says (which would not be a shame), read this review.

Reader video about REST

One of the things that’s been most gratifying about is that it’s attracted some very thoughtful readers and reviewers– most recently Canadian coach and healer Fia-Lynn Crandall, who talks about the book in a recent video.

And extra points to Fia-Lynn for pronouncing my name correctly!

Deliberate rest is a good thing. Don’t just take my word for it.

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