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Why Restorative Rest Makes You More Productive And How To Achieve It

By | Published on | 8 min read
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Why Restorative Rest Makes You More Productive And How To Achieve It</span>

“Do more. Work faster. Hustle, hustle, hustle.” appears to be the motto of younger working generations. It seems like clocking insanely long hours, hardly eating throughout the day, and having no time to do anything besides work have become badges of honor—signifying dedication and a ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality. 

But could slowing down, doing less, and taking time to rest actually result in higher productivity and a more sustainable work lifestyle? As it turns out—absolutely. 

You may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t ‘rest’ the opposite of ‘work’? How can doing less result in being more productive?” 

Researcher and Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang literally wrote an entire book on the importance of balancing work with rest, and how the two actually form an important union. 

In it, he explains that in order for work to work, there also must be rest. “Rest is not this optional leftover activity. Work and rest are actually partners. They are like different parts of a wave. You can’t have the high without the low. The better you are at resting, the better you will be at working.”, he states.

It’s time to press pause ⏸ . Discover the benefits of deliberately doing less, and how to optimize rest for ultimate restoration and productivity.

Rest Reduces Symptoms Of Burnout

While it may seem obvious, working at full-steam ahead with no end in sight is not only tiring, it’s damaging to productivity, team morale, and employee wellbeing. Sure, there may be certain weeks throughout the year where you feel busy, stressed, or exhausted, but chugging along at this rate for long periods of time isn’t sustainable. 

Nap GIF

At some point, you’re bound to suffer from symptoms of burnout, including irritability, low motivation, physical exhaustion, inability to focus, and overwhelming feelings of doom and gloom about your job, team, and life.

As you may have guessed, burnout is often caused by a lack of work-life balance—or in most cases—an extreme imbalance

So, how do you even things out and regain control, clarity, and energy? The first step is to create some space between yourself and your job—you’ve been spending way too much time together and you’ve clearly started getting on each other’s nerves. 

Create this space by communicating your feelings of burnout to your manager and offering a few solutions, such as re-delegating tasks to team members, taking time off, extending deadlines, and setting boundaries with work and personal time. Once you do, those pesky feelings of dread will disappear and be replaced with restored energy.

Rest Is Productive

Max Frenzel, AI Researcher and writer states, “Excellent work, particularly of the creative and innovative kind, needs rest and relaxation just as much as it requires time actively engaged in work. When we rest, our brain is busy consolidating memories and quietly searching for solutions to problems we encounter.”

Spending more time resting and less time actively engaged in work not only boosts creativity and the ability to problem-solve, but it also makes the time actually spent on work more efficient.

Basecamp recently experimented with adding an additional day to the weekend to create a four-day workweek, and found that their employees got the same amount of work done in four days versus five. They also reported that their employees came back each week more refreshed, had more consistent positive attitudes, and worked harder and more efficiently during the dedicated four days of work. 

By prioritizing rest, you’re prioritizing your job (and yourself). Now, read that one more time and really let it sink in. A rested mind and body will show up to work more energized, focused, and prepared to tackle challenges and tasks. What does that lead to? Productivity!

Rest Leads To Clarity On The Big-Picture For Your Team

Picture this: you’re on a long bike ride and you come up to a steep, long hill. The hill is seemingly never-ending, so you just keep your eyes on the ground in front of you and power through it—not stopping until you reach the top. 

Raccoon Bicycle GIF

You’re exhausted by the time you get to the top of the hill, and to your sweaty horror—you realize that you went the wrong way. You were so focused on what was right in front of you and too committed to the climb to realize you had climbed the wrong hill! 

Now, imagine that you were accompanied by a team of fellow bikers—that’s a lot of collective energy spent on the wrong challenge, resulting in discouragement and frustration. When teams are working in overdrive and have no time to look up from their work to analyze the landscape around them, it’s easy to get off track. 

Andrew Thomas, entrepreneur, adviser, and keynote speaker states, “What's the point of hustling if you're going in the wrong direction? Too many people work tirelessly down a path that won't give them the results they want. It's like running on a treadmill—you're working, but you're not going anywhere.”

No matter how much of a time-crunch a project is on or how important an initiative is, it’s important to schedule in time for slowing down, reflecting on what’s currently working and what isn’t, and determining if you’re still on the right path. 

Every so often—mid-project, mid-year, or even mid-week—create moments of pause to ask yourself and your team questions like:

  • Are we spending energy on what matters?
  • Do we have the same goal as when we started?
  • Are our efforts working in getting us to that goal?
  • What’s going well that we should be doing more of?
  • What should we be doing differently?

How To Maintain A Restful Schedule

Moments of rest only go so far. To truly reap the long term benefits that rest can provide, it’s important to incorporate it regularly into your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule. It’s also important to fully believe that you do deserve rest, and stay stern with those boundaries.

Make Rest Non-Negotiable And Non-Contingent

Remember, the rest you deserve is not contingent on the work you complete. Avoid viewing rest as a reward for a job well done—it is required for a job well done! 

Rest is also not a ‘nice-to-have’ add-on that you dabble with when you have the time. If you want to consistently produce high-quality work and live a happier and healthier life, you must consistently incorporate rest into your life.

Scale Your Rest

Though it sounds delightful, taking a day off each week to get more rest probably won’t impress your boss or your team. Instead, think about the rest you ideally need within specific time increments and scale it accordingly. For instance, set ‘rest goals’ such as: 

  • Every day, I would like to take a 1-hour lunch break and sign off completely by 6pm.
  • Every week, I would like to have one full day without meetings, and one weekly team reflection.
  • Every other Friday I would like to sign off for the day a couple of hours early.
  • Every month, I would like to take one day off, as well as have an hour-long sync with my manager to discuss bandwidth, energy-levels, and morale.
  • Every six months I would like to take some prolonged time off (4 or more days in a row).
  • Every year I would like to accrue more paid time off to use in the future.

How To Make Sure Rest Is Actually Restorative

By now you’ve learned the importance of rest on productivity and how to incorporate it into your schedule. However, some people are so unaccustomed to resting that they’re not even sure how to do so. Sure, you may be sitting on your couch ‘resting’ in the physical sense, but if your mind is going a mile-a-minute, thinking about deadlines, emails, and projects—are you really resting? 

Discover how to ensure that your moments of rest are actually making a difference in restoring your mind, body, and soul.

How To Restore Your Mind

A tired, frazzled, weary brain surely cannot show up as its best self. When you do carve out time to slow down and rest, make sure your mind is truly getting the break it deserves. 

Clear Your Mind: One of the best ways to clear your mind of the clutter that’s weighing it down is through meditation. This popular wellness practice involves the art of controlling your breath and thoughts—usually with the intention to not think about anything at all, and just breathe in the present moment. 

Protect Your Energy: It’s not only work that can overwhelm your mind. Anything from a friend calling with a problem to an emotionally draining movie can make your brain feel overworked and ill-equipped. Protect your energy during rest periods by setting boundaries and making choices that will allow your mind to be fully at peace.

How To Restore Your Body

If you jump into tackling a task with a headache, low-energy, and a stiff neck, chances are that you’re not going to produce your best work. Feeling your best has a lot to do with how productive you are and how high-quality your work is. During time spent away from work, make sure to give your body the rest, movement, and nourishment it needs to thrive.

Get Enough Sleep: The National Sleep Foundation states that people need somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to feel fully rested and allow the mind and body to restore themselves for the next day. Sometimes there’s pressure to pack in lots of activities and make the most of your time off from work. But if your body needs a solid 12-hour sleep-coma to feel brand new again, that’s what your body should get. 

Puppy sleeping

Move Your Body: You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to be physically strong or healthy. Simply moving your body—even for ten minutes each day—can help restore balance in your organs and muscles. 

Prioritize Healthy Eating: A nourished body is a happy one. No need to give up your favorite dessert—just be sure to also consistently fuel it with lots of fruits, vegetables, water, and other healthy foods.

How To Restore Your Soul

‘I feel it in my soul’ is one of those sayings that everyone just gets even though it’s pretty intangible. The icing on the cake for ultimate rest? Nourishing your soul.

Do Things That Bring You Joy: Whether it’s listening to a guilty-pleasure music album, spending time outdoors, or pursuing a passion—everyone has something that brings their soul true joy. 

Pamper Yourself And Ask For Help: Ask yourself–what do I need right now? Maybe it’s a night full of self-care rituals or asking your partner to help out with chores.

Hit The Brakes To Become Better At Getting More Done

Throw away the mindset that you need to do it all, as fast as possible, forever—and welcome the mindset that you deserve rest and actually need it to succeed. 

Hopefully, with these tips, you can start incorporating more regular rest into your schedule, feel more restored overall, and show up more prepared than ever to take on whatever is thrown your way. As you start to build a consistent rest-cadence for yourself, don’t forget to encourage your team to join in, too.


Good or bad, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!

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