Do you feel like rest is a waste of time? Is it just a reward for the hard work you do? Do you measure your success by how busy you are?
To have a productive and well-lived life, you need to layer high-cognitive, focused work with recovery and reflection. Deliberate rest is just as important as deep work.
Work and rest are not competitors; they are equal partners. Active rest is a skill that you integrate into your day. It’s not just the absence of work.
Tip 1: Try napping for 20 minutes, preferably after lunch when you’re in the afternoon slump. If you’re in an office setting where naps are not convenient, sit comfortably in a quiet space, close your eyes, and rest.
Tip 2: Participate in deep play that is physically engaging, but not too mentally taxing. Physical activity and creative hobbies are highly restorative.
Tip 3: Savor a real break instead of mix it with work. After every 90 to 120 minutes of focused work, it’s ideal to detach and rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Unplug and leave the digital devices behind.
Tip 4: Take a vacation or sabbatical. You reach maximum restoration with 7 to 8 days of vacation. The benefits of a vacation can last for 2 months or so. Aim to take one every 2 to 3 months for peak performance. At the very least, have weekends when you switch completely off from work.
Tip 5: Set clear boundaries between work and rest. If you do remote work, you could create a fake commute to transition from home to office mode. Keep a start-up routine to transition into work and a shut-down routine to move out of it.
Tip 6: Consider workplace cultures, structural changes and societal dimensions of work. Law firms and consulting services, for example, might need to shift from time-based to project-based billing to encourage optimal work-to-rest ratios. Personal productivity can only go so far if your work environment or organizational culture doesn’t support deep work and deep play.
- Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
- Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Shorter: Work Better, Smarter, and Less – Here’s How
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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.