In Praise of Deep Work, Full Disconnectivity and Deliberate Rest

Thoughts on improving productivity and creativity.

“Why the f*ck do I feel so unproductive and uncreative?”

“The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.” — Kevin Kelly


“Interruption, even if short, delays the total time required to complete a task by a significant fraction” — Cal Newport

Busyness as a Proxy of Productivity

“Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” — Tim Ferriss

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The Power of Habits

“[Creativity] is not something you can summon on command. The best you can do is set an attractive trap and wait. My mornings are the trap.” — Scott Adams

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” — Pablo Picasso

“Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most people to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.” — Tim Ferriss

“If you seek tranquility, do less. Or (more accurately) do what’s essential. Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more tranquility. Ask yourself every moment ‘Is this necessary?’ But we need to eliminate unnecessary assumptions as well, to eliminate the unnecessary actions that follow.” — Marcus Aurelius


Becoming hard to reach

“Make your peace with the fact that saying ‘no’ often requires trading popularity for respect.” — Greg McKeown

The Importance and Value of Rest

“Restorative daytime naps, insight-generating long walks, vigorous exercise, and lengthy vacations aren’t unproductive distractions, they help creative people do their work. […] Rest is not work’s adversary. Rest is work’s partner. They complement and complete each other.” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

“Only in recent history has ‘working hard’ signaled pride rather than shame” — Nassim Taleb

The Four Stages of Productivity

  1. Prepration
  2. Incubation
  3. Illumination
  4. Verification

Four Hours

“Today’s workplace respects overwork, even though it’s counterproductive, and treats four-hour days as ‘contemptibly slack’, even though they produce superior results” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

“In my better hours I am conscious of the influx of a serene and unquestionable wisdom. […] To be calm, to be serene! There is the calmness of the lake when there is not a breath of wind. […] So it is with us. Sometimes we are clarified and calmed healthily, as we never were before in our lives […] so that we become like a still lake of purest crystal […]. Such clarity!” — Henry David Thoreau

Protect Your Rest

“Taking rest seriously requires recognizing its importance, claiming our right to rest, and carving out and defending space for rest in our lives.” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The Four Factors of Recovery

  • Relaxation
  • Control
  • Mastery
  • Detachment

Rest is Active

“The best rest for doing one thing is doing another thing […]. It is the vigorous use of idle time that will broaden your education, make you a more efficient specialist, a happier man, a more useful citizen. It will help you to understand the rest of the world and will make you more resourceful.” — Wilder Penfield (“The Use of Idleness”)

“The moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow.” — Henry David Thoreau

“When we think of work and rest as opposites, or treat exercise as something that would be good to do when we finally have time, we risk becoming […] low-achievers.” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang


“When we treat rest as work’s equal partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and see it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less. […] Rest is not idleness!!” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain

“Ignore what other people are doing. Ignore what’s going on around you. There is no competition. There is no objective benchmark to hit. There is simply the best you can do — that’s all that matters.” — Ryan Holiday



AI Researcher, Writer, Digital Creative. Passionate about helping you build your rest ethic. Author of the international bestseller Time Off.

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Max Frenzel, PhD

AI Researcher, Writer, Digital Creative. Passionate about helping you build your rest ethic. Author of the international bestseller Time Off.