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Time Off: A Practical Guide to Building Your Rest Ethic and Finding Success Without the Stress

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Discover the transformative power of leisure to recapture your calm and creativity.We live in a time where busyness is often seen as a badge of honor. But are your busiest days really the ones that make you feel the most accomplished? If all of your hard work isn't working, it might be time to question the common assumption that "busy" = "productive." After reaching breaking points in their careers, business coach John Fitch and AI researcher Max Frenzel both learned the critical importance of taking time off. Now these former workaholics are here to help you revolutionize the way you get things done.

Time Off: A Practical Guide to Building Your Rest Ethic and Finding Success Without the Stress reveals how history's greatest minds, as well as some of the most successful leaders, thinkers, and creatives of today, found success by practicing a more balanced approach to work and life. Embracing their insights on how constant hustle can be your worst enemy, you will realize that time off means much more than just taking a break. By learning how to slow down, you will rediscover a more fulfilled and versatile version of yourself and unlock your true creative potential.

In Time Off, you'll discover:
The most effective methods to reclaim leisure, while increasing productivity and creativity
Why your work ethic needs to be supported by an equally solid rest ethic
Tactics for getting away from the work without the dreaded guilt
Why time off and leisure will be key competitive advantages in the future of work
How to thrive alongside AI and use technology to become more human
The many ways in which time off improves your leadership skills, and much, much more!
Reshaping the way you think about work and leisure, Time Off is a reinvigorating guide to doing more by laboring less. If you like relatable personal anecdotes, historically-sound approaches to downtime, and scientifically-backed strategies for increasing your creativity, then you'll love John Fitch and Max Frenzel's life-changing resource.

Get Time Off - for yourself or as a gift to the busy people in your life - as a healthy reminder to put down the busywork and pick up what actually matters most to you.

366 pages, Paperback

Published May 25, 2020

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John Fitch

28 books2 followers

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5 stars
101 (45%)
4 stars
79 (35%)
3 stars
32 (14%)
2 stars
8 (3%)
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0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews
Profile Image for Pistachio.
32 reviews3 followers
December 9, 2020
Are you a knowledge worker, creative worker or leader these days? You have to read this!

Amazing collection of stories, thoughts, clever people and ways how to approach life (how to live and how to work altogether).
Profile Image for Theodora.
118 reviews28 followers
January 29, 2021
Never have I made so many annotations in a non-fiction piece of writing. So so wonderful and important and eye-opening (or rather, re-opening)
Profile Image for Tomasz Onyszko.
44 reviews59 followers
January 25, 2021
My take: It is good idea to pick this book instead of next "productivity" book on your list!

It is not a definite guide, but rather a pointer for you that:
* Rest is good and it is not something to be ashamed off
* We lost it somewhere in our business
* Ideas to explore and try to retain the balance

With that - I picked it up from random Tweet, also part of it was to support indie book.

It turned out to be good read, even if I know / read most of the things it covers. Still enjoyed it.
Book covers the topic of "approach to rest" in our busy world. It does it in a patter of:
* Topic
* Profile of person who dealt with this topic and how
* Recommendation or tip (not always present)

Through the book this pattern started to annoy me a bit, but maybe because I knew some of these examples and also I knew what to expect from this pattern. Book is also a compilation of sources so if something will get your interest you can follow-up the other book or author mentioned to dig deeper.

One additional thought after reading it: All profiles presented are of well established, successful people and example how they manage their life to have "time off". All books uses such profiles to prove their point, but it would be good to get to know how "busy" "joe" managed it as well. It would be good to read a book with extraordinary, ordinary people as example instead of entrepreneurs and celebrities.

3 reviews
October 19, 2020
A Game Changer

This book has given me a new and different outlook on life and work. I've read many self improvement books which have focused on delivering results and achieving more in a work setting. However, this book for me is a game changer. It takes a wide variety of sources to demonstrate the point, it is relatable and doesn't come across as preachy. I would highly recommend this book. It is an easy read and could change your life.
Profile Image for Madeleine.
1 review
April 17, 2021
Great and insightful book on the importance of integrating Time Off as a key factor into our lives. Starting with historical developments around leisure, factory-work, social classes and our current working mantras, the writers move towards a Time Off philosophy and examples.
Profile Image for Tomas Pasek.
6 reviews
November 25, 2020
I rarely read self-development books, but this one was just great. A mind opening book that should be read by every manager, executive or any 9-5 employee. I personally made several great steps in my career inspired by this piece. Thanks!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
33 reviews1 follower
December 30, 2020
This book would make a great gift for the workaholics in your life.

As someone who always feels the need and pressure to be busy at work (otherwise I feel guilty), I really enjoyed this book as it helped me rethink and question this need/pressure and whether or not busy = better. I also like how the book was broken up into sections with little stories/examples in each section. These small easily digestible pieces made the book fun and easy to read.
Profile Image for Charty.
906 reviews12 followers
September 25, 2021
This is book whose ideas and aspirations are what this world needs, now. It’s a lot to digest but because they realize how our Protestant work ethic and addiction to technology have broken our brains, they break down each idea into a palatable chunk, often with a frontispiece about a particular person with a quote that embodies the concepts being presented. Tastefully illustrated as a nice, visual break from the text, each leading person is offered in a quick sketch. Interspersed throughout are prompts and exercises for the reader to consider but this doesn’t come close to being a workbook or instruction manual, more a big picture, concept driven narrative that invites the reader to reflect and dream on their own as tp how they would develop their own rest ethic, and how to implement it in their own lives.

If I have any criticism it’s this advice and way of living isn’t very practical or applicable to those working multiple jobs just to make ends meet, or those whose work is production driven. Still, while those workers maybe can’t benefit from all the concepts I do think there’s value in considering how any reader could incorporate changes in their lives for the better even if it’s just getting more/enough sleep.
Profile Image for Carolyn Fitzpatrick.
735 reviews19 followers
March 18, 2022
This book has a lot of good advice. But most of it is fairly common, and the book as a whole is aimed at a very specific segment of the population.

First the good advice:
+ Work should be about what you are getting done, not the hours that you log.
+ Multitasking and frequent interruptions prevent deep creative thought and problem solving, while solitude and nature helps.
+ Sleep more. People overestimate how well they preform on less than seven hours of sleep.
+ All exercise is good, but consist low-key exercise is more beneficial than pushing yourself.
+ Technology is distracting - go analog whenever possible.

Now the concerns...

This books is aimed at people in upper management and accomplished artists. There is a quote early on that made me cringe a bit - about an 8 hour day for a knowledge worker is like a 16 hours day for an industrial laborer. Working 8 hours a day doing monotonous physical work is very taxing, and shouldn't be portrayed as less mentally strenuous than creativity. Their arguments are also very much about profitability, not ethics. By working less, creatives (specifically) will be able to produce more. They mention that Henry Ford made the same discovery concerning his factory workers but none of the modern day examples are about people making an hourly wage.

Women and minorities may not feel comfortable with a lot of the advice. Solitude and nature can be dangerous. Tech is needed for safety. A lot of people can't just stroll quietly down the street, alone with their thoughts. You have to get on the phone or text with someone, leaving breadcrumbs in case something bad happens. And you have to be there for your friends too when they find themselves alone. Friendship means being willing to interrupt your work and give up your solitude to help keep them safe. Because that aspect of solitude and tech is not mentioned, cis white males (still the majority of upper management and creative professionals) are left happily in their bubble, thinking that all of this is just a matter of personal choice.

There is no acknowledgement of the need for social activism for all this. The one time that maternity leave is brought up, it is to describe a woman who used her time off to get a degree and score a promotion. This may be better than forcing women to stay home permanently after having a child, but it is not what maternity leave is for! Meanwhile a man in the book as held up as a good example for taking a six year hiatus after his child was born. There is lots of talk about finding peaceful places to recharge, when a lot of people don't even have a room to themselves, the money to buy tech or go on vacations, or access to adequate child care. Increasing minimum wage, ensuring that people aren't priced out of housing, providing paid maternity leave... All of these would make it easier for people to get the amount of rest they need to be healthy and productive. But there is no mention of political or social initiatives.

At the very end, when I was more than ready to be done with this book, they had to bring up the "Financial Independence, Retire Early" movement. Their example was of a guy who made it work and retired at 30 - because he spent his 20s pulling in a $70K salary, and his wife was doing the same. I spent most of my 20s unemployed or underemployed. I'm also leery of advising people to choose a job that pays well just so that they can leave it in 10 years. Most careers pay far less than $70K, and they are essential jobs for the economy. Now that their example guy can live off his residuals, maybe he should go be a public school teacher, custodian, cop, or paramedic.

In conclusion... the book makes a great argument that freelancers and CEOs should not immerse themselves in work. But the focus is on empowered individuals making choices for themselves. A lot of the advice encourages the reader to ignore societal realities.
Profile Image for Jill Steeley.
19 reviews3 followers
May 29, 2020
This book by John Fitch and Max Frenzel, is an in-depth look at time spent not working and the concept of rest ethic. The authors begin with a stroll through the history of the view of work vs. leisure, beginning with the ancient hunter-gatherer cultures. It is interesting to contrast how the ancients only did enough work to ensure survival, whereas today, work tends to consume us and leaves little time for true relaxation.

Nine traits are presented to show the importance of mindfully incorporating time off in one’s life. The authors show how a good rest ethic is as important as a good work ethic. They recount the benefits of rest, including better health and greater productivity and creativity when working. They show how excessive time spent working can actually be counterproductive. The final chapter takes a thought-provoking look at the future and how people will compete with artificial intelligence. Throughout the book the authors invite the reader to engage in the topics they discuss by suggesting an activity to practice the topic. I like the profiles peppered throughout the book that make it an interesting read and illustrate the authors’ points.

I expected this to be “researchy” and “textbooky” book. While the authors do support their work with research, it is not at all a dull book. I enjoyed reading it and learned a great deal. It is a book that will cause the readers to reflect on their own attitudes and habits related to work ethic and rest ethic.
45 reviews
June 24, 2022
Rating this a 3/5, but depending on who you are, this might be higher or lower.

If you are someone who is struggling in the daily grind and are engrossed in "hustle" culture, this might be a good change of pace for you and reveal some new avenues to explore in your work and rest ethic.

If you are someone who has read other works in the vein of "rest is good" and don't subscribe to the hustle mindset, then this book will probably not offer anything new.

I was quite excited to read through this book, but I found myself just skimming through the last 1/2 of the book. The list of actual ideas is very short and could easily fit in a longer blog post (ie, a lot of fluff in this book).

The format of the book includes a bunch of anecdotes about the lives of certain people and how they incorporated time off as a means to improving their work. Some of these examples are a bit cherry-picked in my opinion and after a while it gets somewhat boring since the anecdotes themselves are quite shallow.

The examples also apply to a very select audience - you need to be in a position where you can actually afford time off and you are given time off from work. If you're someone who is barely making ends meet day-to-day, this book will probably feel like a slap in the face.
Profile Image for LaChelle.
50 reviews13 followers
May 15, 2022
[2.5 stars]

While this books contains some interesting information about the history of American work culture and how we can begin to reimagine productivity through prioritizing leisure, it fails to address the immense privilege required to be able to cultivate this in real life. It makes no mention of wealth disparity (and is overloaded with anecdotal chapters about successful and wealthy people who’ve managed to cultivate work/life balance), or practical tips for people who do not have the luxury of working less. This book is more suited for C-suite executives, billionaires and other people in positions of power who need to re-examine how they run their companies and teams but few of them have an incentive to do so it would’ve benefited the writers to take a more encompassing approach that considered the perspectives of the people who are most impacted by our relentless culture of busyness. I appreciate that this book has made me think about my relationship with rest, technology and productivity but it was mostly a lot of redundant information that could’ve been told in half the amount of pages.
Profile Image for Digitalerstaub.
45 reviews3 followers
August 20, 2021
I probably never took so many notes and highlights from a book. This book was my most enjoyable reading experience in a long time.

The authors write about productivity but not the way you would expect. The topic is leisure time ( plus boredom) and the benefits we have lost with our current life style by always being busy and multitasking. After the authors make their case they present a lot of examples from famous personalities and how time off impacted their work. In the end there is a part about AI and the future of work which I found refreshing and interesting.

I would recommend the book to anyone who has an interest in productivity, especially people that work in a creative environment. The stories and anecdotes are coupled with beautiful drawings from Mariya Suzuki.
Profile Image for Reed.
198 reviews2 followers
December 29, 2021
I’m glad I read this book over a several month time period. Following its core concept of taking time off to reflect & think works equally well for work as for reading this book.

The book covers lots of ground ranging from philosophy to practical advice to narratives from successful individuals who came to understand the benefits of time off. I found the discussion on Sabbaticals to be highly thought-provoking and I will work my hardest to go on at least a mini sabbatical.

I enjoyed the illustrations throughout the book. There is also plenty of space and empty pages for those like myself who are fans or marginalia.

One clarifying point: in the parlance of this book, it is intended for highly educated “knowledge workers”. A lot of their recommendations might ring hollow for those without that sort of privilege.
Profile Image for Paul Forster.
41 reviews
May 26, 2022
A surprisingly practical guide that allows you to ruminate while approaching your leisure/rest/time off.

I enjoyed how individuals' philosophies were the corner stone of moving the text forwards. From Aristotle to Marie Kondo, the insights were gentle but had real impact.

The tips at the end of chapters encouraging reflection and implementation of the different methods and ideologies were great. Gonna put them in a mini book and work through them.

The end of the book dragged as they veered into the Technology section, and as tech entrepreneurs I understand why they included it, but it was much more speculative and less useful than the rest of the book.
Profile Image for Oleg Gavryliuk.
45 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2022
The magic of how to get more doing less without busyness.

“If we want to accomplish the big things we’ve set out to do – to create, lead, contribute, and make an impact – we need a rest ethic as strong as our work ethic.”

Every athlete knows the importance of Load & Recovery balance. Without adequate recovery load(training) is waste of time and effort with negative consequences.

Max and John wrote a useful and interesting book about noble leisure. The magic of how to get more doing less without busyness.
Profile Image for Chitrak gangrade.
55 reviews6 followers
November 5, 2021
Should have been a blog post. Unnecessary drumming of same point again and again.

Also, I was expecting the book to talk more about long term sabbatical and how to think about long vacations. It was more focused on day to day how to take breaks.

Also it kept talking about why taking breaks are important. We get it. Talk more about how to take efficient breaks and share more insights around it.

Felt like a Twitter thread converted into a book. Left mid way.
Profile Image for Billy Colley.
46 reviews
May 24, 2021
Enjoyable, Eye Opening, A Must Implement

The writing style in Time off is enjoyable and engaging, which is always nice in a book. Add to that the amazing information contained in this book, and the different ways to apply it, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re feeling a bit burned out with life.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Fisher.
Author 9 books2 followers
October 11, 2020
Other than its central theme of taking time off so you can be better at "work," (what's wrong with taking time off to be better at LIFE?), the book is well written, researched, and presented. Found a few ideas for active leisure that I might try to implement. Only after I take a break.

Profile Image for Susan.
652 reviews
December 26, 2021
More print book mop-up! Really liked this collection of thoughts on the importance of leisure time. Lots of great ideas for ways to use leisure time well (without, you know, worrying about being productive).
Profile Image for Matty Dalrymple.
Author 24 books90 followers
June 28, 2020
Wonderful book with thought-provoking ideas and practical advice for acting on them, supported by lovely illustrations by Mariya Suzuki.
Profile Image for Simon Holm.
59 reviews2 followers
April 22, 2021
The five stars are mostly based on my emotional reactions reading the book (calm, happy, hopeful, inspired). But seriously, Time Off is probably the most important book I have read for my own well-being. It left me honestly asking myself "What kind of life do I want to live, in EVERYDAY LIFE?”. The book focuses on the importance of building a good REST ETHIC, and divides it into eight categories: creativity, rest, sleep, exercise, solitude, reflection, play and travel, whilst also covering a bit on our use of technology and the future of work (considering the ongoing AI automation progress). It comes with practical tips, quotes from great minds and personal anecdotes on how to re-consider how you spend your free time. It is easily digested and at least some advice, even though not always scientifically backed, I think applies to everyone. I’m not sure that this review makes it justice, but if it’s one book from my ‘read’ list that I would recommend, it is this (at least at this point in my life). It may be somewhat focussed to audiences which deem themselves belonging to either of the categories entrepreneurs/freelancers/researchers/creatives, but everyone could use the tips no matter what they work with or how they do it.
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews

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