Rest | Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Summary of: Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
By: Alex Soojung-Kim Pang


In today’s high-speed world, taking breaks and seeking rejuvenation seem to be counterproductive. However, as Alex Soojung-Kim Pang demonstrates in his book ‘Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less’, these practices of rest and recovery are in fact essential towards becoming more creative and productive. The key highlights of this summary will explore why the morning hours are ideal for creative work, the science-backed activities that help recharge your mental batteries, how proper sleep can repair your body and mind, the importance of taking vacations, and the benefits of deep play through various activities.

The Power of Morning Routine

Discover how successful individuals prioritize their work and achieve more through a morning routine. Learn how intensively focusing for a shorter period of time can boost your creative output, so you have more time to relax and pursue other interests.

Do you think working more hours leads to greater success? Think again. According to a recent study in music conservatory, the best young musicians practiced for four hours a day and slept an hour longer than their peers. They and Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert cartoon, both worked extensively in the morning followed by a break after lunch.

Morning routine is key to their success. Adams initially invests his first four hours drawing, answering emails, and taking care of administrative chores. The success of Dilbert cartoon in 65 countries and Adam’s other projects, including 5 comic books and 9 nonfiction titles, pays off his morning routine.

The key is working deliberately for a shorter period which is more effective than working half-heartedly for an extended period. By doing so, you will have more time to pursue your hobbies, go for a walk, or even take a nap. Moreover, morning hours provide you sufficient space to reflect and work without any disturbances that daytime hustle and bustle bring.

If you’re unable to adjust your working hours, you can follow their working pattern by focusing primarily on your work during morning hours and taking a break after lunch to recharge. Starting your day early will give you an edge to work proactively and efficiently without getting swamped by the busyness of daily life.

Energize Your Mind

Walking and Napping to Boost Creativity

If you find yourself draining out mentally, reenergizing yourself can be as simple as a walk or short nap. Walking, specifically, engages the subconscious and enhances your creativity. William Rowan Hamilton, a mathematician, developed his most famous work while walking along Ireland’s Royal Canal. In 2015, a study by Stanford University revealed that walking improves divergent thinking. In addition to walking, taking a short midday nap can improve information retention and emotional control. Olaf Lahl, a sleep scientist, conducted a study in 2008 that showed higher recall abilities in participants who took a nap before a memory test. It’s time to rejuvenate your mind with these simple yet effective energy boosters.

The Power of Quitting at the Right Time

Learn why quitting at the right moment supports your creativity and produces better results according to research and famous writers like Ernest Hemingway.

Knowing when to quit can be just as important as knowing when to push forward. In fact, choosing the right moments to stop can greatly support your creativity, as writer Ernest Hemingway discovered. Research conducted by the University of Sydney’s Center for the Mind found that interrupting the creative process and allowing for incubation can lead to better results. This means that when you’ve just nailed a great idea or scene, it’s best to resist the urge to work until exhaustion and instead take a break or switch to a different task before returning to your work.

Hemingway’s advice was to “always stop when you know what’s going to happen next,” which gives your brain time to incubate and develop new ideas. The study from the University of Sydney’s Center for the Mind reinforced Hemingway’s advice, showing how beneficial picking the right moment to stop working can be. The group that switched to a different analytical task before returning to the original problem came up with far more solutions than the group that worked without any interruptions.

In essence, quitting at the right time can lead to better ideas, better results, and a more creatively fulfilling process. When you clock out for the day, remember that your brain is still working and developing new ideas. Give them the time to incubate and mature before sitting back down at your desk, and you’ll be amazed by how much your ideas have grown.

The Importance of Sleep for Brain Health

Sleep is more than just a remedy for hangovers and bad days. It also plays a crucial role in repairing and growing cells throughout the body, including the brain. During different stages of sleep, such as stage 4 and REM deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones and produces protective fats that are necessary for healthy neural function and memory consolidation. Getting enough sleep also helps protect against degenerative conditions and prevents poor decision-making and physical illness associated with sleep deprivation. For night shift workers, sleep disruption can lead to serious health complications ranging from ulcers to heart disease and cancer.

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