Monthly Archives: August 2017

Review- “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less” (and thoughts on the productivity book I want to read.)

(cross-posted from my Goodreads review. You can check out the book here.)

Rest is well written, well researched, insightful, and interesting. I’m convinced. I need to learn to relax more, and I feel like I now have permission to make it a priority. Definitely worth reading.

But it was missing insight on something that might be outside of the scope of what the author wanted to do with this book, but that I would LOVE to read about some day in a book on productivity/work/creativity.

PLEASE NOTE: I understand that this book is “WHY you get more done…” and not “HOW to get more done…”. And I understand that this and most productivity books are assumed to be for The Professional Peoples With Big Careers, so the focus on them makes perfect sense. This is not a complaint, but a suggestion for something I really wish I could find more research/books on. This book absolutely achieved what the author set out to explore, but this review seems like a good place to mention a related issue.

Kay?

Kay.

We read here about a lot of people who are massively smart, successful, and dedicated to their work. It’s inspiring… but their lives look nothing like mine. Even in later chapters that focus more on people in more modern times, the one thing they all seem to have in common is that they were/are apparently able to focus their lives on a cycle of professional work and personal rest. People with servants, assistants, the means to take overseas vacations and sabbaticals… and even if not those, then these at least seem to be people who are not primarily responsible for household tasks and childcare in their homes. There are a few occasions when the author mentions “and this on top of children and responsibilities and…”, but we don’t get insight into how people achieve that balance or what that actually means for them.

The balance stated a few times in the book is between work and rest. But there’s another part of life that’s not professional work, but it also definitely isn’t rest, and it takes up a whole lot of time and energy if it’s primarily your responsibility.

I have so many questions about those people in the book who are acknowledged in passing to have home/family responsibilities. Do they have a spouse/nanny/servant/assistant who shoulders the mental load and most of the attention/time/energy burden for their home and family, allowing these creative types the freedom they need to achieve greatness through work and rest? Do they feel guilty about taking off for a solo sabbatical in the woods and have to make it up to the family when they get back, or is it assumed that the greatness of their career/genius justifies them taking on less of the burden at home? Or are they somehow working their four hours every day, getting in several more hours of reading/walking/napping and then having to cook meals, organize bath time, take the kids to baseball practice, help with homework, clean the toilets, make something for the class bake sale, and scoop out the litter box before they summon the mental energy needed for some deep play after the kids are in bed? (If it’s that last bit and they are doing all of that while writing brilliant novels or conducting breakthrough research, please refer me to wherever it is they’re mining their energy, because just typing that exhausted me.)

Basically I want to know how this applies to those of us who don’t have the freedom and support that these exceptional minds seem to have (and if not, that aspect of their schedule definitely deserves to be dug into a little deeper). Those who maybe started out as SAHMs or just aren’t the primary breadwinners but are trying to hone our productivity, do creative work, and improve our mental/physical health while doing that other work. Or people with chronic health issues, mental or physical, that interfere with the work/rest cycle. I need someone to refer me the research on how we do super cool stuff. Or not. Are we doomed if we can’t pass those responsibilities on to someone else? Is it either-or? (Honest question there)

*To be clear, my question isn’t just for this book.*

It’s just something I’m always hoping to see addressed and never seem to. I’ve read a ton of books on creativity and productivity, and none of them* have addressed the question of what happens when most of your schedule is dictated by other people’s needs. For example: Getting up early to work like the Dilbert guy sounds fantastic… except that in order to get up early enough to get an hour of work in before I have to get the kids up and off to school, I’d have to go to bed before those kids if I wanted to get enough sleep to not be a total zombie in the morning BUT HEY THE SPOUSE IS WORKING NIGHTS so that doesn’t work. Having a nap after lunch sounds amazing (and I’m super good at it, too), but I’ve got to get those four hours of work AND my walk in before the kids come home from school and we have to get cracking on their homework, so to fit that in I’d have to cut something else out. A sabbatical sounds AMAZING, but…

I’m not complaining, and wouldn’t trade my life for 52 sabbatical weeks a year. It’s just a different kind of challenge, and one I suspect involves different aspects of things like guilt/societal expectations than the workaholic trying to carve out time for rest. It would be cool to see someone explore productivity in that context, or just to see it acknowledged in books on productivity.

I’ll definitely be trying to work through a lot of the ideas in this book and to adapt them to my needs, and it’s given me some amazing ideas for when the kids are older and don’t need as much of my time. It’s also given me inspiration for a lot of things I’d like to do more research on just for personal interest (anyone seen a good book on Wilder Penfield? He keeps popping up in my reading). This was a very useful book.

But maybe an idea for someone to tackle in a future book would be to take a look at people who are achieving productivity and creativity under different circumstances, ones that don’t allow them to take up surfing or have hours of free time after work (any challenges, physical or mental or lifestyle-related). I’d love to read that.

—-

*Shonda Rimes did a fantastic job in her book of acknowledging that she couldn’t do the work she does without her nanny AND that she finds that when work is going well her home life crashes, and when her home life is going well, work suffers. Just her acknowledging that challenge was amazing and comforting and inspiring.

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Taking a Break

…I know, I know. I HAVE been taking a break here. A big one, and if this is the only place you follow me, this will be a confusing post. The blog has been quiet because it doesn’t seem like this is the best way to communicate with readers anymore. I’m not sure anyone reads posts here, which means my words could be better used in books.

I have limited brain for Making Teh Werds, guys.

But I’m thinking about a far larger break from the world of Internet. It’s the perfect time for it. I’m between projects under my own name, and busy breaking ground on the project that’s due to my Bound trilogy editor in the new year. I’ve just released the second book in my pen name series, but I’m not planning any big promotion until the third book comes out in the fall.

I have my reader group on Facebook, but they don’t need me there to babysit them all the time. They’re a good crew.

…and honestly, aside from that group and book promotion needs, I’m beginning to realize that social media doesn’t do a lot for me. In fact, it’s become a constant source of stress.

That’s not to say social media is bad. Not by any means. Just that I’m realizing that I need to step away so I can keep it at arm’s length when I come back. I need to settle into my own life. I need to be bored enough that my work turns into play again, and I need to get out of the habit of framing experiences into photos or posts or tweets. I need to write without worrying that I should be marketing, and I need to reassess the f*ucks I really want to give about this business (to badly paraphrase Mark Manson*).

I need to turn my back on the courses I’ve signed up for on HOW TO SELL THOUSANDS OF PRE-ORDERS and HOW TO CRANK OUT SO MANY BOOKS YOU CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WRITING THEM and take a few deep breaths so I can decide whether those are things I really want–and more to the point, whether I really want to sacrifice what it would cost me to do those things. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those goals. I just want a little space to decide whether they’re right for me. Maybe those are goals I want to embrace. But maybe I want to define success differently.

The point is that there’s so much noise out there that I don’t even know what I want and what I’m being told I should want, and I’m not good at moderating my exposure.

I get overwhelmed easily. I’m choosing not to drown.

So I’m going to give myself one more week before the break. I’ll wrap up my most recent paperback giveaway on Instagram (which ends soon, if you want to check it out). I’m going to start another one just for my wonderful newsletter subscribers, because checking email is a thing I need to do anyway. I might do another post here and on Facebook showing off the newly formatted versions of the books in the Bound trilogy. Might even share some pictures from recent trips around Newfoundland.

And then I’m going to try to disappear for a bit.

I’m going to check in with my reader group once in a while.

I’ll check for messages on Instagram and Facebook Messenger once in a while, but they’re not going to be daily things (and yes, I can already feel the FOMO).

I’ve turned off messaging to my Facebook page (which has been glitchy and ineffective for months, leading to missed messages and incredible frustration).

My pen name may have a few things she needs to do, but as for me… I think I’m just about ready for a break.

And I feel really good about it.

All of this is to say that I’m fine, I’ll be back, I hope to be feeling much brighter and shinier when I return, and if you need to reach me, please email. I’ll still be checking that every few days at least, and it’s always the best way to reach me.

*I may have recommended “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” already. If I haven’t before, I am now. I really enjoyed the audiobook–so much, in fact, that I bought the paperback so I could re-read, highlight, and lend it out.

 


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