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Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

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If you think that relaxation is the opposite of hard work, then this book has news for you. In “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang delivers research and reasoning to change your mind about what productivity requires. His most startling assertion may be that the best work is not done in an 8-hour day. Instead, he advocates for working as little as 4 hours each day while taking as many breaks as you need. In doing so, you would be following the examples of greats like Charles Darwin, Watson and Crick, and Ernest Hemingway.


Rather than looking at work and rest as opposing ideas, Pang wants readers to think of them as partners. Sleep, exercise, and other types of self-care often get neglected because many people think that they need to work 100-hour weeks to become wealthy. However, Pang points out that health is a large portion of real wealth. Besides, those hours of overworking grow less and less productive the longer that you go without rest. He presents evidence for his ideas from neuroscientists, case studies, and statistics. The book calls attention to culture and politics as major drivers of misconceptions surrounding work habits.


This book is not a call to be lazy; rather, it is a call to unlock your unconscious powers that have been stifled by hectic work schedules. Being busy does not mean that you are doing good work. Pang claims that rest will not be given to you but must be taken. He chronicles the history of research on rest and its controversial findings, which have often been suppressed. In one study provided, subjects who changed tasks more frequently performed much better than those who focused on only one task. This book builds upon that research to recommend not only more breaks throughout the day but also regular long-term getaways.

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