We see our friends posting about doing fun things and taking it easy, and we secretly judge them. We try to hide it when we watch our tv shows, or anytime we take a break. It’s unproductive, right? We don’t want to admit that. Taking time to relax is basically the opposite of “the hustle”. Rest and productivity sound like complete opposites. After all, being productive is PRODUCING things, a.k.a. doing something. So rest hardly sounds like it fits any category like that.

But maybe… just maybe… it’s okay to watch Netflix sometimes, and maybe sometimes it’s okay to take a nice relaxing break, too. In fact, maybe we actually NEED to rest in order to be productive.

You know people who disagree with this… maybe you are that person. I used to be. I used to say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” and I still catch myself being proud of “surviving” off of 6 hours of sleep sometimes. We’re surrounded by messages from people like Gary Vaynerchuk shouting about “the Hustle” and the grind. But sometimes I just can’t get behind the “24/7 hustle”. Don’t get me wrong… I hustle, and I hustle hard. But I don’t want to feel bad about sleeping 8 hours a night or taking a day off to unwind and recharge. If you’re gonna work hard, then you have to play hard, too. I don’t think anyone should feel bad for that, and I think you’re probably missing out on some serious productivity if you’re not making rest a part of your life.

Here’s Why Rest Is Important

Burnout is a real thing. Whether you’ve experienced it or not, it happens and it’s pretty detrimental. I’ve experienced it a few times in my life, and it’s best described as the OPPOSITE OF PRODUCTIVITY. It’s a weird combination of depression, fatigue, and just a general lack of energy and interest. That’s a fatal combination for someone who wants to be productive. While hustling all the time might help you achieve some short term goals pretty quickly, it’s going to eventually take you to burnout and hinder your long-term progress.

We need to be recharged. If our computers and technology can’t go 24/7, then why do we think we can? We have to charge our phones every day (sometimes even more). Why would we think that we have an unlimited supply of energy? We don’t, and just like we accept the fact that we have to sometimes put down our phone and plug it in, we need to realize that we need to do that with our bodies too.

Computers and phones quote

No rest can actually hurt your body. Burnout is a real thing and often includes physical side effects, like developing ulcers, insomnia, chest pains, headaches, and more. Don’t put your body through the ringer and subject it to things like this. What good is being productive if you die early? Take care of your body and it will help you to get the most done with the time you have. You do that by giving it a break sometimes.

Resting sets a good example for others. When you rest, you tell other people it’s okay to rest, too. This is especially important if you’re a manager. When your employees see you working all the time, it’s inspiring… at first. But eventually you teach people that working all the time is the expectation. If their boss is staying late after work all the time and working on weekends, maybe they should be too. If they don’t ever see you taking time to unwind, they’ll think that they probably shouldn’t either. Work hard, and encourage them to work hard too, but let them see you take a pause and spend some time relaxing.

When you rest, you focus. When you go a thousand miles an hour all the time, you don’t have a lot of time to course-correct if you’re getting off track. Have you ever driven 80 mph on the interstate and missed your exit? Once you get in that speedy groove, it’s easy to focus on the goal at hand : keep driving forward and do it fast. You forget to make time every now and then to assess where you’re at and when you need to turn. Life is the same way. If you’re going 80mph toward your dreams, that’s great. Keep it up. But build in time to check where you’re at and make sure you’re still on the right course and didn’t pass up your exit. Make sure you’re still reaching for the right goal(s).

Passing your exit

You get it… rest is actually critical to being productive. But what exactly does it mean to rest? Does it mean you have to sleep or take naps? Nope. Luckily there are plenty of ways to rest, and if you do it right, it will help you FEEL productive and not lazy!

Essentially rest is anything that puts your work on hold. It can mean something totally different for everyone. For a programmer, they might find rest by getting off their computer and doing something outside. For someone who works in the yard all day, they might rest by getting on their computer and playing games! It’s all about what feels relaxing to you and gives you energy rather than drains you.

Rest quote

Here are some of my favorite things to do for “productive” rest:

  • Naps. (only on sundays… I become a grump if i take naps any other days)
  • Reading books (learning and energizing all at the same time)
  • Listening to podcasts (education and entertaining)
  • Journaling (no, not like a diary… well, i guess kinda like a diary. but instead of talking about my crushes, i talk about what’s going on in mind and unpack some of that)
  • Meditating (there’s a lot of different approaches here)
  • Watching tv with my husband or my friends (likely Parks and Recreation or the Office)
  • Talking to friends and family (being with people you love is energizing)(

I bet you’re probably already thinking of some things that you find restful, but feel free to try out some of mine and see what you think!

What do you think about rest and productivity? Are they complementary? And how do you rest? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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Brittany Joiner

Founder of Project 1440! Just a 25 year old who wants to do the right things and do them well. When I'm not studying productivity, you'll probably find me watching Shark Tank with my husband, doing my CrossFit workout, traveling the world, or reading a non-fiction book.

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