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Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,908 ratings  ·  414 reviews

Overwork is the new normal. Rest is something to do when the important things are done-but they are never done. Looking at different forms of rest, from sleep to vacation, Silicon Valley futurist and business consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang dispels the myth that the harder we work the better the outcome. He combines rigorous scientific research with a rich array of exampl
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Basic Books
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Polina I am listening to it right now after purchasing on google play books and I also saw it for sale in Audible.

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 ·  2,908 ratings  ·  414 reviews

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Leigh Anne
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Same stuff, different book.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Given that we don't seem to take the kind of advice Pang offers, it should probably be repeated as often as possible. This book is kind of a fleshed-out version of all the clickbait articles you read about getting more R&R: the stuff you already know, but with the science behind it. And the science is very good/interesting.

The problem for a lot of readers is that these strategies assume you're a middle to upper class white collar p
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The cover is misleading. This is not a book about idleness, but it is also not about how you have to be a mountain climber in your spare time to be successful. It's really a series of examples illustrating Flow.

Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Compared with a book I recently read, "Deep Work", this one is much better:
-It's not just filled with "I'm so great" anecdotes. This author did homework to find stories of people you might have heard of: Darwin, Ike, Stephen King, etc.
-It's not repetitively nagging at you to stop loo
Heidi The Reader
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"We shouldn't regard rest as a mere physical necessity to be satisfied grudgingly; we should see it as an opportunity. When we stop and rest properly, we're not paying a tax on creativity. We're investing in it." pg 11

I think we're living in a culture that generally glorifies busyness and a frantic pace of achievement. That's not news.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang takes a deep dive into the science of rest and shares the insight that taking breaks isn't something we should squeeze into our schedule. Res
I'm a bit conflicted about this book. It starts out by saying 'don't work all the time - rest is important, too'. But by the end it's mostly a manifesto to not so much *rest* as do hard and challenging stuff (climb mountains, play the violin) *in addition to* working quite a lot.

The most successful scientists, for instance, have very intensive hobbies, while less successful scientists don't.

Which makes me wonder: is that perhaps because the successful people have more energy in the first place?
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I was fascinated by so many aspects of this book. First, the basic premise: that in the modern world we've come to wear overwork and multitasking and stress like badges of honor, when in reality these things make us less efficient and less effective. The many studies and scientific explanations throughout the book well support this premise. The many anecdotes pulled from throughout history and across disciplines highlight the science at work in the lives of some of our greatest thinkers, artists ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I want to give this book 10 stars, because our culture needs this message so much. I saw this author keynote at a conference a few years back (wish I could remember which one), his talk at that time was about another of his books, but what I remember is how impressed I was by his presentation and his ideas. So when I saw this book among the new titles at the Mechanics Institute, I had to check it out. Now I will return the library copy and buy one to keep. The message seemed so obvious, I was a ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
In Rest Alex Soojung-Kim Pang uses science (mostly psych studies, and a few brain studies) and historical examples to explore the concept of "deliberate rest." He posits that the best way to optimize one's creativity and focus for deep intellectual and creative work is to actually spend less time consciously doing the work itself and more time on various types of deliberate rest. The main point is that deliberate rest (including walks, naps, etc.) allows the brain time to integrate and process, ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
practical guide to avoiding burnout by cultivating regular intervals of rest and a full life outside of work, in order to have a longer and more fulfilling work life in the long run.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Alternative title: Cause and Correlation: How confusing the two makes for poor arguments

I really hate to give this such a poor rating, but as a book, that's what it deserves. The underlying theory is solid enough and I actually agree with the conclusions the author makes on the topic of rest, but unfortunately, the way this book went about trying to prove his theory was just awful. Each chapter started off well enough with a description of a rest technique, but then, instead of any sort of compe
Wendi Lau
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nutrition
The author says rest is just as important as work because quality rest makes work time more energetic, creative, efficient, and inspired. Rest can mean taking a walk, taking a nap, going on vacation, indulging in a hobby. He has such good examples and writes so clearly, the book's purpose is fulfilled 3/4 of the way through. "Rest " can be read quickly.

Not 5 stars because the book was longer than necessary. And it is not long, less than 300 pages. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is just too efficient. Ma
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: leisure, self-help
There's a formula here:

Step 1 - Begin chapter with a bunch of anecdotes and stories about famous scientists, athletes and politicians who found the practice the chapter is about helpful.

Step 2 - Throw in references to a study or two about why the practice the chapter is about is helpful.

Step 3 - Summarize.

This is a pretty good book about why rest is helpful. But after a while, the book becomes redundant. You can skim through the chapters, read the summaries and get it:

*Four hours - For maximum e
There's a lot of great stuff in here about how the overwork, always-on, always-busy mentality is nothing but optics and posturing. Real deep work doesn't happen when you're always working but rather, when you spend more time in rest modes -- think sleeping, napping, walking, playing deeply, being physically active. This book collects the science behind it all and offers more reason why we should spend more time "off" than we spend "on."

My big criticism is this, though: it's almost entirely men
Karen Ashmore
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
We should all work less and rest more. Not only will you be more at peace but you will also be more productive and creative. Here's how: work four hours at a time, develop a morning routine, take walks, take cat naps, stop when you are going good so you know exactly where to dive in when you restart work, get plenty of sleep, take vacations, exercise everyday, participate in deep play (sport, hobby, musical instrument, etc), take a sabbatical every few years. And then you will have a restful lif ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The premise of the book is the title. The rest is just detail: summary of research from neuroscience, health, etc.

Surprisingly, for a book about rest, the author overlooks the age-old concept of Sabbath.
Aceso Under Glass
Aug 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
All "famous person does X" anecdotes. Believes everyone should wake up early. ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
The book claims to not be about productivity hacks but then goes on to prescribe productivity hacks. I didn't find anything too new in it and honestly could have been summarized in a Medium article. ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does a decent job proving its thesis - that rest is vital to the quality of a person's work, health, and life - with studies and anecdotes. It piles on so many studies and anecdotes, though, that the prose often reads more like a laundry list than a narrative. And yet it says little that contemporary books and magazines haven't already said about health, creativity, and productivity. Still, it serves as a useful reminder to take breaks and vacations.

My main gripe: For every female exa
Dec 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
You do more if you work less. This is a homeopathic book. Once you won't do a thing your results will reach the infinity. And that is certainly the case as the people who do nothing are next to perfection.

Sarcasm aside, this is a poorly written book about how to work more. Yea, besides the title, nothing is about working less. It is about working more. Which makes much more sense than the catchy and misleading title. Only this time you don't just go to work. You start working at dawn, do some ph
Roni Loren
Aug 24, 2017 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really helpful, especially for those in a creative field. As a writer, I'll take a lot of the suggestions from this. ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
There's really a lot to love about this book. Valuable and validating. I'd highly recommend it for most people, but especially anyone who does creative work (paid or unpaid). For me, the advice to work steadily instead of waiting for inspiration to strike was so important. It seems obvious but I really needed to read that and imagine a lot of other people do, too. Reading this book right after Nir Eyal's "Indistractable" has me more motivated than ever to safeguard my valuable time (and take mor ...more
Rhidge Garcia
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you feel guilty about resting, this book is for you! The stories, lessons, and studies in this book are so compelling. Such a timely book in an non-stop culture.

My favorite quote: “ if you want to burn out and die young, no one will stop you; but if you want to live a ripe old age, enjoy that life, and be engaged and active throughout, it seems deliberate rest can help you get there.“
Meghan Burke
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Audiobook on a long drive home from holidays/vacation, reflecting deeply on how to avoid burnout in the year ahead.
Jul 09, 2018 added it
Shelves: health-wellness
I have mixed feelings about this book. First, its title is misleading. It's not really about rest, it's about focused recreation, with a couple of quick chapters on sleep and naps. It covers much of the same ground as Cal Newport's terminally shallow book, Deep Work, but more thoroughly, with better examples and analysis. It touches on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work as covered in Flow, but more efficiently.

There are a lot of potentially useful insights here, and I enjoyed reading it but found t
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Malcolm Gladwell-esque: focus on a topic that is rather narrow, though not unimportant, using historical and contemporary persons as examples. Because it is written for the general (but well-educated) reader, it seems to me that the author strains to expand the work into book length. Nevertheless, I read the work at an appropriate time--immediately following the Christmas and New Year's holidays. ...more
Oliver Kim
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As far as pop sci/self help books go, this one isn't half bad. It doesn't overstate its recommendations, and it supports them with numerous studies and anecdotes. Rest is important, and that point bears repeated telling. ...more
If you're looking for a rundown of the habits of Great People, this is the book for you. There are a couple of recent scientific studies in Rest which were much more interesting than hearing for the third time that our great f(r)iend Churchill took naps.

I was expecting a much more pragmatic book. Too many of Pang's examples are taken from nineteenth-century aristocrats. If anything they just illustrate how landed gentry used to live, rather than illuminating facts about optimal work.

It seemed
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2019
I liked the central idea of this book - that being busy doesn't necessarily translate to getting more done (and it is particularly unhelpful to meaningful goals). The author cites research to make his case, but he spends more time recounting anecdotes, and these seem to be disproportionately about Victorian scientists and tech billionaires - could it be that privilege helps one schedule in the walks, naps, and mountain climbing?

Read for Read Harder 2019 task 17: a business book
Eve Dangerfield
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was really interesting and I definitely took away some practical tactics and useful information about the value of active rest and active play. I read a lot in this genre and I think this book brought something new to the-lets face it-saturated self-improvement genre. Recommend.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Terrific book from a fellow Penn grad on the topic of rest. I found it fascinating. The author makes the case that rest and leisure are not secondary activities to work, but essential partners with work to live a creative, meaningful life. It's chock full of interesting anecdotes and tidbits of historical info.

Some quick takeaways:
-rest is a partner with work
-the best restorative kinds of rest are active
-rest results in a more creative life
-night owls who make it a habit to work in the morning o
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53 likes · 13 comments
“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. History” 11 likes
“If your work is your self, when you cease to work, you cease to exist.” 5 likes
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