Work less, rest more. Tips from a Silicon Valley consultant


You get more done when you work less, says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a Silicon Valley consultant. Go ahead, scoff.

But the guy managed to write two books in three years. Working only four hours a day and daydreaming the rest of the time. In a review for the New York Times, Arianna Huffington called Pang’s “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less” a “valuable book.”

He also created The Restful Company, which helps busy professionals become highly productive by taking time off.

We picked his brain about what everyone from 9-to-5ers to stay-at-home parents can do to benefit from the concept of “rest more, work less.”

Pang’s comments were lightly edited for space and clarity.

What resting is not

In today’s world, we see rest as a negative space defined by the absence of work. It’s not passive, sitting on a couch with a remote and a bag of snacks.

Active rest is more restorative than passive rest. It offers more detachment from work, and a more fulfilling use of our time.

The right way to rest

The people I describe in the book practiced what I call deliberate rest.

They organized their days so their rest followed immediately after periods of focused work: a long walk after a morning in the laboratory, or a vacation after a hard few weeks.

How to overcome rest guilt

When you practice deliberate rest, your subconscious is still working on problems, and you’re rebuilding your energy and resilience. As a result, you’ll be more productive and engaged

Rest is not sitting on a couch with a remote and a bag of snacks



For stay-at-home parents and those juggling two or more jobs…

When you have the chance to switch off and rest, do so as completely as possible. That means switching off your phone, not checking work email or voicemail and having a hobby or other activity that will occupy your attention and energy.

Mental rest while at work

Military reservists who come back from a week of training can be as psychologically restored as someone who’s been on vacation.

A weeklong vacation every three months

You reach peak vacation happiness after a week, and the benefits of a vacation last about two months.

Pang’s own example

When I’m working on a book, I’m working hard for about four hours a day, and giving my mind lots of time to wander.

Using this practice I’ve written two books in three years

Snack On This:

Here’s the formula for finding what Pang calls “deep play,” a restful activity that will complement your job. “For instance, lots of scientists and CEOs are mountain climbers. They love the analytical, problem-solving part of climbing plus the discipline needed to reach the summit,” Pang says.

Deep play = Rewards of work – job frustrations + different medium + personal angle.


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