The GuardianThe Guardian

Why the secret to productivity isn’t longer hours

By Andrew Anthony

22 Jan 2017 · 5 min read

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a consultant in Silicon Valley and a visiting scholar at Stanford University. He writes about technology and its cultural impact. His latest book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, is an empirical argument in favour of more limited working hours and greater understanding of the benefits of active rest as a means of raising creativity and productivity.

What made you decide to write the book? I’ve been working as a technology forecaster and a consultant in Silicon Valley for about 15 years, and a few years ago, after lots of long projects and multitasking and travel, I started to feel the classic effects of burnout. My first response to this was to try to fit more into the day, to try to work harder. But when I was on sabbatical at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, I found that in three months I got an enormous amount of stuff done and did an awful lot of really serious thinking, which was a great luxury, but I also had what felt like an amazingly leisurely life. I didn’t feel the constant pressure to look busy or the stress that I had when I was consulting. And it made me think that maybe we had this idea about the relationship between working hours and productivity backward. And [we should] make more time in our lives for leisure in the classic Greek sense, not playing a lot of video games.

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