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Book Review: Rest

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Below, is a book review of Rest. This review is an experiment to share insights from books I’m reading. I’m reading 2-3 books a month. By writing down what I’m learning, it’s helping me ingrain concepts to implement in my life. Let me know how I’m doing by leaving a comment.


Rest is about the relationship between work and rest. They are not opposites. They are partners. It’s like a wave, they are peaks and troughs, and they work together to create power. Rest is more than sleep. Rest is active ways to disengage the mind from deep work. This disengagement leads to replenishing and neural connections that lead to insights and learning. In turn, this is the key to flourishing in the knowledge economy. Knowledge is not manufactured, it is discovered.

This book pairs well with Deep Work.

Rest talks about the ways to actively rest the mind. It recommends deep work 4 hours a day—the highly creative, complicated tasks that produce key output. It doesn’t go further to talk about the other types of softer, busier work—the whirlwind as defined in the 4 Disciplines of Execution talks about.

That is where Deep Work excels. The book further classifies types of work as both deep and shallow.

If deep work is 4 hours a day, and shallow work the other part, then rest is the key to make that entire cycle work.

Key Insights

  • One must take time to sharpen the mental saw. Knowledge work can be productive only so long each day before dullness slows down mental processing.
  • Rest is about active rest of the mind. More than sleep, it is activities that rejuvenate mental processing to keep it at its peak—decision making, creative endeavors, and making those mental enlightenment jumps.
  • It’s the normal ebb and flow of everyday activity. High mental processing requires high mental rest to maintain peak performance. Work and rest are partners, not opposites.
  • To maintain peak performance in the knowledge economy build in active rest to your work cycles:
  • Concentration: like any muscle, deep concentration on complicated tasks lasts about 4 hours a day
  • Ritual: early morning routines tap into the power of habits, allowing willpower and decision making to be used on complicated tasks vs everyday tasks
  • Exercise: walking and active forms of exercise (like intense bootcamps or spin) are ways to disconnect the mind and get the blood flowing to stimulate the mind.
  • Sleep: most important thing to recharge the body, including the mind.
  • Stopping: Stopping midway through a project allows the subconscious to continue to work on the project till is picked up again the following day. The cliché “let’s sleep on it” is letting the mind put more resources into figuring out the problem and coming up with new perspectives.
  • Hobbies: Play and hobbies sharpen the mind in other unused areas that benefit key vocational areas in return.
  • Vacation: Disconnecting completely to let the subconscious really work and defrag. Sabbaticals are a way to let the mind charge completely after extended periods of deep work.
  • The 10,000 hour rule is slightly misleading. Rather, it should be stated: “10,000 hours of deliberate practice, 12,500 hours of deliberate rest, and 30,000 hours of sleep” (page 74).

Takeaways to Implement

  • In 2017, I removed email, Slack and all social apps (aside from Instagram to share what I’m up to) from my phone. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a key way to actively build active, mental rest into my daily routine. This allowed me to fully disconnect from work.
  • I’m going to structure my days around 4 core hours of highly, deep work. Writing, reading, and creative projects that allow me to learn and share. It seems mornings through lunch tend to be the best time. I need to be more disciplined about this on my calendar. After all, what gets scheduled gets done.
  • I have a pretty consistent morning routine involving exercise, meditating, reading/Audible (exposing myself to new ideas), journaling, planning my day, and getting one big thing done before checking email. To take this further, I should be more ruthless about optimizing my morning routine.
  • I need to develop a workday shutdown routine. Put a hard stop on my calendar and 15-30 min to get ready for the next day. This seems like the key thing I’m missing to get closure on day in prep for the next day. Otherwise, things pile up.
  • Walk more. Take more walking meetings and calls.
  • At the end of the day, starting some tasks briefly to get the subconscious going on them to jumpstart the activity the next day. Actively writing down my big 3 items for the next day helps me visualize what I need to do next so my subconscious can build a plan of attack. I’ve been amazed a how effective this has been. Not only clarity on what to do but the ability to actually do it.
  • I’m going to actively plan more frequent vacations. At least once a quarter, an entire week off with the family to recharge. We don’t need to go anywhere fancy but I need that time to fully disconnect from work and reset my brain.
  • Deepen my exercise routine with more strenuous activities. I’ve become a big fan of TRX and 60 min spin classes. I really loved Barry’s Bootcamp while in Chicago — that kicked my butt! I’m actively going to find more of these challenging forms of exercise.
  • Take up more hobbies. I think right now, 3 kids under the age 3 is my hobby grin :)
  • Develop a “think week” 1-2x a year as a mini-form of a sabbatical to change my way of thinking. Explore and learn new things to help sharpen my mindset.


Buy the book Rest. “Why you get more done when you work less” is the key to working in today’s economy.

More Resources

I discovered this book through Michael Hyatt’s LeaderBox. It’s a fantastic program that delivers two curated books a month with reading plans. It’s been a terrific addition helping propel me forward as a leader. The accompanying guide helps drive questions and takeaways from the book that helped shaped what I wrote above. It’s become my favorite monthly learning activity.

Disclaimer: Affiliate links used in this post. These links support the time dedicated to this blog. I’ll never link to a product I don’t wholeheartedly love and use myself. I maintain my integrity in being thoughtful in only sharing the best. Enjoy!

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