Labor Day marks the end of summer. But as we prepare to trade our bathing suits for sweaters, it’s important to remember that our need for relaxing and refreshing never goes away. Even though vacation season is almost over and we’re shifting our priorities to finish the year strong, we need to keep opportunities for rest and recharging in our calendars. If we fail to rest, we’re setting ourselves up for even bigger failures. In fact, we may need to rethink our relationship to rest entirely.
Rest and Productivity Aren’t Opposites
In his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang tackles a mythunderstanding that we carry about rest and work: that they are opposed. He writes that “Rest is an essential component of good work.” Not only will you find yourself burnt out if you refuse to rest, you’ll actually be missing a crucial part of the productivity process. Your brain can only be creative and come up with solutions if you give it space. Using neural scans, scientists have recently found that moments of insight and creativity actually happen when your brain is not engaged. Without this “white space,” your brain isn’t able to make the associations between different parts of your memory because it will be externally focused on the matter at hand.
Rest Isn’t Passive
Probably the biggest mythunderstanding about rest is that it means doing nothing. Although it can be restorative to settle into the couch and tune into the latest murder show on Netflix, there’s more than one way to recharge. One of our team members begins her day with a long walk before settling into her research. Another ends the working day with about an hour of playing guitar. Even Joyce Carol Oates famously works out her writing issues with vigorous runs. What makes rest, well, restorative isn’t that it involves lazing about, but rather that it gives us a mental break from our normal routines.
Even vacations work this way. As we have learned throughout the past year, a “staycation” doesn’t always offer you the same recharge as traveling because it doesn’t offer a complete break from our habitual lives. Even if you’re able to soak it up in the bath and read some thrillers seemingly just as well as you can crack a murder mystery on the sand, the results feel different. After all, your computer is still perched in the same spot and the laundry still piles up, no matter how many rejuvenating baths you take. Think about both literal and literary camp. Going to a different place allows you to think and act in ways outside of the ordinary because a camp has its own rules. This separation is essential to giving yourself the freedom to participate in camp culture and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. The not-normalness is the point. Rest, as a break from normalcy, is active and enables growth, because it gives you the opportunity to experience new things and think in new ways. This is why we get excited about resting when we take vacations – it’s fun to do things differently.
So, now that we’ve explained fun to you, how can you make sure that you keep rest in your routine?
Time block Your Vacations First
As we wrote in The ONE Thing, you need to make sure that your priorities are represented in how you think about your time. The easiest way to do that is to take your calendar and block out time. When you think about the coming year, rather than focusing solely on what you want accomplish in terms of your goals and your career, make sure that you are representing your commitment to the rest and recharging that inspires and invigorates you.
Plus, time blocking your vacations first will help you in all the other areas of your life because it will give you something to look forward to. It’s a win-win.
What tricks do you incorporate into your life that allow you to get the rest you so dearly deserve? Chime in on our Facebook page!