How to be More Productive in 2021--by Finding "Rest" in Your Work

Cabin in the woods in winter


Welcome to 2021 and PAUSE MORE. RUSH LESS. To those of you new to this newsletter, the mission is simple: It’s designed to help you slow down because by pausing more, you see more. Listen more. Hear more. Feel more. Experience more. And live more.


This week I reread one of my favorite articles on rest titled, “Power Lounging” by Gregg Levoy. It’s about the importance of taking time off to refresh yourself which is something he desperately needed to do after working fifteen months of twelve-hour days to complete his book, This Business of Writing. (I know the feeling. That's why I just spent a long holiday break, and I spend a week in a cabin up north resting every year.)

When Levoy hit the wall, he decided to take a self-imposed sabbatical—for four months. Not a luxury you could afford? As a freelance writer, neither could he. Yet, Levoy, in his own words, said he needed “space—a distance from what was pressing in on me, a penetrating quiet inside. And I needed to hold that silence up to my ears, like an empty shell, and listen to the roar of my life. I needed time to reacquaint myself with some non-work modes of expression, to open myself to some of the things that gave me joy as a child, to savor the benediction of play, to read a novel again—and to await further instructions.”

I can relate to the way the article opens. He references “The Greek Myth of Sisyphus.” You remember this poor soul. He cheated death twice by deception, angered the Gods, so they sentenced him to eternity of rolling a heavy stone up a mountain, only to have it roll down just as he reached the summit. A life of futility. Like we all feel in our jobs sometimes when we mindlessly follow mundane routines—whatever they may be—day after day, month after month, year after year.

However, Levoy points out something else. Each time Sisyphus walks down the mountain to retrieve the stone again, this walk gives him time to rest. And I would add, it gives him time to think, ponder, and restore perspective.

Unlike Sisyphus, we’re not condemned to futile work (I hope), although we may all have some unfulfilling routines. The question is where is there “rest” in those routines? Every time we walk back down our personal mountain, we have time to rest and think about how we might perform our work differently, more productively, and more efficiently. My point? As you look to 2021, look for moments to pause and find rest in your routines at work. Moments that can motivate you, restore perspective, renew or refresh you.

In Levoy’s “Power Lounging” article, he admits it was at first very difficult to take four months off to legitimately rest because he was so programmed to work. We might feel the same way because we have worked remotely too long. Yet, Levoy finally found rest. He put it this way:

“Over the next three months, as the days flicked by like white lines on the freeway, I took great long walks by the sea and in the forests, lost myself in epic novels, wrote poetry again, traveled, and stopped postponing jury duty. I went surfing, joined a men’s group, got to know my friends better, and even did my exercises with greater observance, not so grimly and perfunctorily. I felt expansive and that life was full of possibilities.”

Our work-at-home life affords us the same luxury.

As you head into 2021, look at your work-at-home situation like Sisyphus walking back down the mountain. It’s a time to pause, to rest, and consider how you might approach your life—and your work—differently when our crazy world returns to its natural orbit.


SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  Does the concept of “rest in work” seem contradictory to you? In the future, how might you find rest in the midst of your work?
Something else you might enjoy:

Marshall Cook’s audio book:  Slow Down and Get More Done

Photo by Pixabay.


Please feel free to ask me a question, leave a comment, or join my mailing list by subscribing to my FREE newsletter, PAUSE MORE. RUSH LESS. below. We’ll talk about how to slow down your life to live it more fully.



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