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robertogreco : rest   10

Arianna Huffington on a Book About Working Less, Resting More - The New York Times
"We hear a lot about the many things that are disrupting the American workplace: the decline of manufacturing, demographics, globalization, automation and, especially, technology. And it’s true — all of those are roiling the world of work, not just in America but worldwide.

But there’s another force transforming the way we work, and that is: nonwork. Or, more specifically, what we’re doing in those few hours when we’re not working. With “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang superbly illuminates this phenomenon and helps push it along.

What’s being disrupted is our collective delusion that burnout is simply the price we must pay for success. It’s a myth that, as Pang notes, goes back to the Industrial Revolution. That’s when the Cartesian notion of home and work as separate — and opposing — spheres took hold. Home, Pang writes, was “the place where a man could relax and recover from work.” When there was time, that is. Because soon leisure time and nighttime became commodities to monetize. Over the next decades, starting with demands from labor reformers, work hours were pushed back, mostly for safety reasons. But even today, the conversation focuses on “work-life balance,” which implicitly accepts the notion of work and life as Manichaean opposites — perpetually in conflict.

That’s why “Rest” is such a valuable book. If work is our national religion, Pang is the philosopher reintegrating our bifurcated selves. As he adeptly shows, not only are work and rest not in opposition, they’re inextricably bound, each enhancing the other. “Work and rest aren’t opposites like black and white or good and evil,” Pang writes. “They’re more like different points on life’s wave.”

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His central thesis is that rest not only makes us more productive and more creative, but also makes our lives “richer and more fulfilling.” But not all rest is created equal — it’s not just about not-working. The most productive kind of rest, according to Pang, is also active and deliberate. And as such, that means rest is a skill. “Rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running,” Pang writes. “Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.” Though he’s obviously never heard me sing, I take his point.

And he illustrates it well, showing how the secret behind many of history’s most creative authors, scientists, thinkers and politicians was that they were very serious and disciplined about rest. “Creativity doesn’t drive the work; the work drives creativity,” Pang writes. “A routine creates a landing place for the muse.”

And as Pang notes, modern science has now validated what the ancients knew: Work “provided the means to live,” while rest “gave meaning to life.” Thousands of years later, we have the science to prove it. “In the last couple decades,” he writes, “discoveries in sleep research, psychology, neuroscience, organizational behavior, sports medicine, sociology and other fields have given us a wealth of insight into the unsung but critical role that rest plays in strengthening the brain, enhancing learning, enabling inspiration, and making innovation sustainable.”

We can’t declare victory quite yet. To experience the kind of rest that fuels creativity and productivity, we need to detach from work. But in our technology-obsessed reality, we carry our entire work world with us wherever we go, right in our pockets. It’s not enough to leave the office, when the office goes to dinner or to a game or home with you. And it’s not enough just to put our devices on vibrate or refrain from checking them. As Sherry Turkle noted in her book “Reclaiming Conversation,” the mere presence of a smartphone or device, even when not being used, alters our inner world. So achieving the kind of detachment we need for productive rest can’t really be done without detaching physically from our devices.

And even though the science has come in, still standing in the way is our ingrained workplace culture that valorizes burnout. “With a few notable exceptions,” Pang writes, “today’s leaders treat stress and overwork as a badge of honor, brag about how little they sleep and how few vacation days they take, and have their reputations as workaholics carefully tended by publicists and corporate P.R. firms.”

Turning that around will require a lot of work. And rest. The path of least resistance — accepting the habits of our current busyness culture and the technology that envelops us and keeps us perpetually connected — won’t make us more productive or more fulfilled. Instead of searching life hacks to make us more efficient and creative, we can avail ourselves of the life hack that’s been around as long as we have: rest. But we have to be as deliberate about it as we are about work. “Rest is not something that the world gives us,” Pang writes. “It’s never been a gift. It’s never been something you do when you’ve finished everything else. 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.”

And you can start by putting down your phone — better yet, put it in another room — and picking up this much-needed book."
alexsoojung-kimpang  ariannahuffington  work  rest  creativity  2016  books  burnout  labor  sleep  workaholism  conservation  sherryturkle  productivity  detachment  neuroscience  psychology  sociology  routine  inspiration  innovation  lifehacks  efficiency 
december 2016 by robertogreco
If you want to produce drones, teach kids nothing but STEM |
"The problem is, if we want people to be creative as scientists and engineers, discouraging them from taking arts classes (or for that matter discouraging them from playing rugby or football** or whatever) is exactly the wrong way to do it.

While I was writing REST, some of the most interesting studies I read compared the hobbies of high-achieving and low-achieving scientists. In particular, there was a study started in the late 1950s by UCLA sociologist Bernice Eiduson to understand what separated great scientists from their less accomplished colleagues.

Lots of psychologists had tried to figure out what marked some people for greatness, but no one had found the thing— the single personality trait, the “genius gene,” the cognitive edge— that all successful scientists share. Eiduson thought that by watching their careers unfold over several decades, and talking to and testing them at regular intervals, she might see things in successful lives that one-off interviews and short studies couldn’t.

Eiduson found forty young and mid-career scientists who agreed to be interviewed about their life and work, sit for psychological tests, and most crucially, keep doing so. All of them were products of top graduate programs, promising researchers, and young enough to have long, productive careers. Eiduson would follow this group for more than twenty years, and in that time the lives of the forty diverged. Some were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Others received promotions and prestigious chairs at their universities. One became a presidential science advisor. Four won the Nobel Prize; one, Linus Pauling, won it twice. Others settled into less distinguished careers. Some continued to struggle to do serious science, but couldn’t keep up. They became administrators, or focused on teaching.

From a sociological standpoint, it was an ideal outcome. A group that looked roughly the same decades earlier had split into two parts. The challenge now was to figure out why.

So what did she find that separated the top performers from the rest?

It wasn’t performance on intelligence tests— there didn’t seem to be a genius gene— nor were there personality traits that were really unusual. (The high performer were ambitious and competitive, but so are lots of people.) No, what separated the great from the good were— as Eiduson’s collaborators would discover after she died in 1985— other factors.

• It turned out that the best scientists showed “an unusual urge to experiment athletically as well as scientifically,” and selected “athletic activities that could be carried from youth into old age.” (These quotes are from an article by Maurine Bernstein, Robert Scott Root-Bernstein, and Helen Garnier, who continued and extended Eiduson’s work.) The top scientists took full advantage of the region’s geography: they played tennis, went swimming, hiking, and skiing. This being southern California, there was also an over-representation of surfers and sailors. Their less distinguished colleagues, in contrast, reported low rates of participation in sports.

• They saw rest and recreation as connected. As Robert Scott Root-Bernstein put it, elite scientists shared the belief that “time relaxing or engaging in their hobbies could be valuable” to “their scientific efficiency and thus to their careers.” For them, playing the piano or painting was just another “expression of a general aesthetic sensibility about nature.” What they did in the lab, the court, the climbing wall, and the lecture hall were woven together, different activities linked by common interests and shared passions. Low achievers, in contrast, said nothing about serious hobbies. They “had none or found them irrelevant to their work.”

• They expressed fewer anxieties about time pressure. For the Nobel laureates and world leaders, swimming or hiking didn’t compete with their time in their laboratory, and they didn’t feel that the time they spent on deliberate rest was stolen from more productive things. Because they practiced deliberate rest, seeking out activities that gave their conscious minds a break and provided a mental and psychological boost, but left their subconscious minds free (free to run through ideas, test and reject possibilities, and hone in on a solution), their sense of how much time they worked, and how much time they had at their disposal, differed from their less successful colleagues. In contrast, less well-cited, well-known scientists saw themselves as too time-pressed for hiking or surfing or playing the piano: they had too many commitments, too many obligations, too many demands on their time.

There are tons of examples I could give— and do give in the book— of world-class minds who are also great athletes, serious painters, musicians, even pool players (Albert Michelson, who measured the speed of light, was a master billiards player). And there’s good evidence that being good at these different activities strengthens creative ability, and provides much-needed deliberate rest for busy, hard-charging people.

So extrapolating from Eiduson’s work, if you want to produce people who have technical skills, but never will be able to do anything more imaginative than quality control for LG, then teach them lots of science and math, and nothing else. In contrast, if you want to produce people who’ll create category-defining products, overturn paradigms, and make scientific breakthroughs, by all means offer the physics and chemistry— but also encourage them to play sports, learn to paint, and play music.

Or as Vogt-Vincent put it,
Stopping young people from expressing themselves at such a young age is not doing them any favours…. To study arts subjects, you have to take risks, push yourself emotionally, expressively and creatively in every lesson, you have to persevere and be interpretive, passionate and collaborative. I’ve worked harder in these subjects than I’ve ever worked in my life.
"
education  stem  steam  unschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  time  anxiety  science  engineering  innovation  creativity  2016  alexsoojungkimpang  schools  parenting  scientists  ucla  orlivogt-vincent  rest  idelenss  linuspauling  berniceeiduson  life  happiness  balance  well-being 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Oliver Sacks: Sabbath - The New York Times
"I had felt a little fearful visiting my Orthodox family with my lover, Billy — my mother’s words still echoed in my mind — but Billy, too, was warmly received. How profoundly attitudes had changed, even among the Orthodox, was made clear by Robert John when he invited Billy and me to join him and his family at their opening Sabbath meal.

The peace of the Sabbath, of a stopped world, a time outside time, was palpable, infused everything, and I found myself drenched with a wistfulness, something akin to nostalgia, wondering what if: What if A and B and C had been different? What sort of person might I have been? What sort of a life might I have lived?

In December 2014, I completed my memoir, “On the Move,” and gave the manuscript to my publisher, not dreaming that days later I would learn I had metastatic cancer, coming from the melanoma I had in my eye nine years earlier. I am glad I was able to complete my memoir without knowing this, and that I had been able, for the first time in my life, to make a full and frank declaration of my sexuality, facing the world openly, with no more guilty secrets locked up inside me.

In February, I felt I had to be equally open about my cancer — and facing death. I was, in fact, in the hospital when my essay on this, “My Own Life,” was published in this newspaper. In July I wrote another piece for the paper, “My Periodic Table,” in which the physical cosmos, and the elements I loved, took on lives of their own.

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest."
2015  oliversacks  sabbath  religion  work  rest  life  tradition 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Doing Nothing: A Love Letter — Chrysaora Weekly — Medium
"Until recently, “resting” meant slumping my entire body into the couch to watch four hours of Netflix until passing out. Constructive rest, on the other hand, requires actively identifying, acknowledging, and releasing each muscle. I slowly convince each muscle in my body to relax and stop bracing against imaginary stress. Sometimes, this involves finding where the muscle is wired up to my brain in the first place, or learning what a state of relaxation even feels like for a permanently tense joint. It feels deeply, unsettlingly uncomfortable and challenging. From the outside, though, it just looks like I’m wriggling on a table.

Constructive rest, I realized, is exactly what I had elected to do with my month off. Though it wasn’t visible on the outside, I was doing some mental spring cleaning: recalibrating my interests and skills, letting go of tendencies I no longer needed as defenses or lifelines, and just generally restoring myself to a new state of balance. Of readiness.

Since embracing the value of doing nothing, I’ve been more productive than ever. The release of old habits has freed me up to try new things, like writing every week. Through the painfully honest evaluation of what I’ve done and what I’d like to do, I’ve found surprising new patterns and directions. By giving myself space, I’ve even found my next step."
constructiverest  rest  movement  christinaxu  2015  well-being  alexandertechnique  idleness 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Deliberate Rest: A Manifesto | The Rest Project
"Looking at Darwin’s life inspired me to look more closely at the lives of other noted scientists, and then the lives of writers, and then mathematicians, screenwriters, generals, and lots of other accomplished people. I’ve noticed that many of these people share something that usually goes overlooked, but which is essential for their success: an ability to rest deliberately.

The term “deliberate rest” is a play on Anders Ericsson’s famous concept of deliberate practice, the structured, regular, mindful practice that he argues turns people into outstanding performers.

What I see is that many brilliant, accomplished people are thoughtful about how they rest; they’re mindful about it; they do it regularly, almost rigorously; and far from being just a respite from their working or creative lives, it becomes an essential part of those lives.

Those of us who are interested in how to work better don’t think very much about how to rest better."



"We need to rethink our relationship between work and rest. So work and rest aren’t opposites like black and white or good and evil; they’re more like different points on life’s wave. You can’t have a crest without a trough. You can’t have the highs without the lows.

But we also need to recognize that we can learn to rest better. Some of history’s most creative people, people whose achievements in art and science and literature are legendary, took rest very seriously. They found that in order to realize their ambitions, to do the kind of work they wanted to, that the right kinds of rest would restore their energy, while allowing their muse, that mysterious part of their minds that help drive the creative process, to keep going.

Work and rest are not polar opposites. In a good life, rest is not work’s opposite. Rest is work’s partner. They complement and complete each other."
2014  rest  pause  deliberaterest  alexsoojung-kimpang  work  howwework  creativity 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Why You Hate Work - NYTimes.com
"Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work."



"Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform. What our study revealed is just how much impact companies can have when they meet each of the four core needs of their employees.

Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become. By contrast, feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.

Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has a more significant impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third of respondents said they were able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.

Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

We often ask senior leaders a simple question: If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next we ask, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?” An uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

How to explain this odd disconnect?

The most obvious answer is that systematically investing in employees, beyond paying them a salary, didn’t seem necessary until recently. So long as employees were able to meet work demands, employers were under no pressure to address their more complex needs. Increasingly, however, employers are recognizing that the relentless stress of increased demand — caused in large part by digital technology — simply must be addressed."
leadership  administration  management  tcsnmy  work  purpose  focus  schedules  employment  care  rest  renewal  productivity  2014  tonyschwartz  christineporath 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? - NYTimes.com
"Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational & high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless…The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing… You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move — like releasing a prisoner who might commit a crime. So the fatigued judge on a parole board takes the easy way out, and the prisoner keeps doing time."
decisionmaking  decisions  decisionfatigue  cv  fatigue  leadership  management  administration  tcsnmy  rest  glvo  donothing  rationality  biology  psychology  business  life  mood  2011 
august 2011 by robertogreco
95% of People Who Say They Need Five Hours of Sleep Are Wrong - National - The Atlantic Wire
"Bill Clinton, Leonardo Da Vinci, & Albert Einstein are among the notable historical figures to weave sleeping less than 5 hours a night into their personal mythologies. Odds are you know someone who makes similar claims. The odds are even greater they have no idea what they're talking about.<br />
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In an interview in today's WSJ, former American Academy of Sleep Medicine president Daniel J. Buysse says only 5% of people who claim to be "short sleepers" (read: people who can legitimately function on limited amounts of sleep) actually are. The other 95% "end up chronically sleep deprived, part of 1/3 of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night."<br />
<br />
Plus, there's no way to train yourself to be more like a Clinton, Da Vinci, or anyone else in the nighttime overclass…Geneticists say the short sleeping trait is caused by a genetic mutation, not practice & Red Bull. Scientists at UCSF first discovered the mutation responsible for short sleepers 2 years ago."
sleep  via:robinsloan  health  myth  rest  human 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Blog: Frank Chimero (It’s hard to hold it all in your head. All the...)
"I forgot who said this, but someone once told me that we come to other people’s creative work out of a secret desire and hope that someone understands us better than we understand ourselves. We come to Austen and Kubrick and Basquiat and Aretha under the hopes that they have the same acute feelings, but more able hands and voices that can some how capture that fleeting emotion and crystalize it. We quote, because someone said it better than we can. But, some days I want it all to stop. I can’t keep up." ... "A year with no poems. A week with no news. A day without kerranging. I don’t long for focus. I long for negative space. Pause. Full rest. Declaring a space that is to remain empty, with the presumption that because a portion is left vacant, it makes the whole better. Pause. The world will keep charging and accelerating. But, as my friend Drew said, “There is no catching up.” And because of that, I raise my white flag, and crack another dusty spine."

[Wayback link: http://web.archive.org/web/20100604035146/http://blog.frankchimero.com/post/654094925/its-hard-to-hold-it-all-in-your-head-all-the ]
frankchimero  polymaths  infooverload  time  pause  balance  rest  nicholsonbaker  theanthologist  books 
june 2010 by robertogreco
The Sabbatical | design mind
"A generative sabbatical — that year off work to travel, explore, draw, write a book, or otherwise indulge in creative pursuits — is perhaps the most idealized...A recuperative sabbatical is the most needed & the most practical. It is often unplanned and occurs only after the “sabbatee” reaches a breaking point — brought on by a chaotic workplace atmosphere of on-demand innovation, parallel work streams‚ and always-on digital lifestyles...I refer to this kind of recuperative time off as the “go away and try to remember whether you still like yourself” escape. It would be nice if we didn’t need this type of sabbatical, if our society and corporate culture were different, and we managed our time and relationships better. In reality, we not only need but also deserve them."
design  life  time  work  sabbaticals  yearoff  rest  creativity  cv  recuperation  burnout  stress  well-being  mind 
may 2010 by robertogreco

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