Why Rest Is More Important Than Work

September 18, 2016 Chris Pearse

Do you think of sleep as a waste of time? Is having lunch away from your desk an irritation? Do you consider the periods of rest between activity as lost opportunities to be more productive and to achieve more?

If you do (and I certainly did) I’m going to suggest that the very opposite is the case and that much activity is, in reality, a lost opportunity for quality rest.

Let’s get some perspective on the subject. Firstly, work and rest are inevitable. Every one of us is committed to both: if you do not rest you will be rendered useless (try going without sleep for a few days); the same is true if you don’t eat and drink regularly, both of which require work.

Life comprises cycles of rest and activity. When you speak, you have to stop to breathe. Walking entails starting and stopping your journey – there’s even a rest between each stride. Grass grows and stops growing according to the season.

Using space as a metaphor for time (after all they are both dimensions), let’s see what happens when the space (time) is filled with as much information (activity) as possible:


Compare it with this:

When type is continuous, lacks punctuation, capitalisation and format, the message is unclear. As space is introduced between the words, reading is made easier. When punctuation is used (analogous to breaks between one activity and the next) reading begins to flow. Finally when formatting is used to separate ideas and streams of thought, understanding and meaning are facilitated.

(and if LinkedIn let me reduce the line height, the effect would be even more pronounced)

What this demonstrates to me is:

When rest is sacrificed for productivity and achievement, understanding and meaning are compromised.

And that’s what I’ve seen happen to me and to many others I know.

Investing more time in the many forms of rest that are available to us – and I’m not just referring to putting your feet up with a G&T (although that’s good too) – has paid huge dividends to some of my clients as they being to realise that if achievement derives from activity, meaning comes from rest.