In his book Rest: Why You Get More Done when You Work Less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues that if we give time to intentional rest, our lives in their entirety become more successful and rewarding. He labels this as "deliberate rest" and calls it the true key to fulfillment and creative success.The book details research stating that in order to be productive, it is imperative that we have solid periods of rest. Rest is defined as play, naps, exercise. In thinking about this, I realized that many of us do not live by this ideal but rather have bought into the idea that our success is measured by our lack of time. If we include the amount of time we spend in traffic, our attentiveness to technology notifications, and how many hours we work beyond the forty hour week—it doesn't leave much time for resting. In order to work smarter, we need to ensure that we are intentional about our rest. As I get ready to finish up this school year it is with this philosophy that I head into my summer.
Here are my five suggestions for creating a deliberate rest this summer.
Slow Down. Allow your body time to adapt to the rhythm of summer days. Typically our last weeks of school are completely fraught with an overwhelming list of things that must be done before the final day. We are moving through the hours with our brains buzzing, furiously crossing items off our list. And then we are done. Just like that. It's hard to shift gears. Allow yourself time to adjust. I like to take at least a week of unscheduled time. Let your body rest and your brain settle into the slower pace of summer. Turn off email notifications, step away from social media, and remember what it feels like to mindfully move through your day.
Reflect. Every school year I create an annual report for my library. I reflect on how the year went: goal, achievements, and things I would do differently. I am intentional in waiting until the school year has ended and summer has begun before I start working on this report. Giving myself time to let it all go and then revisit the year allows me to reflect deeply. This method is also helpful in defining goals for the upcoming school year. I now send my report mid to end of the summer, when everyone is thinking about the new school year. I've found this to be effective in keeping the library in the minds of the administrators as school begins again.
Capture Your Passion. What are your interests that truly bring joy to your life? Bring more of that into your summer. I look forward to moments spent in nature, early morning creative sessions, and plenty of time to read and write. If you have forgotten what your passions are outside of the school year, use this time to try a few new things. Is there something you'd like to try that you don't ever seem to have time to do during the school year? Try it now.
Find Balance. Many of us are busy with professional development, curriculum writing, collection development, or other professional responsibilities to ensure we are prepared for the next school year. It becomes really easy for the summer to be whittled away by these duties. Find balance by ensuring that they are scheduled in a way that allows you to be intentional about numbers one through three above. I make sure that all of my work days are in my calendar so that I can see where to add time for rest.
Teaching Spirit. As educators, we are often thinking about the next idea, how to reach students in a new way, and how to improve our practice. In essence, teaching is at a soul-level part of who each of us is as a person. Honor that part of you by choosing things that are meaningful to your spirit. I do this by choosing a few professional books to read over the summer and catching up with educator friends.
This summer my wish for you is deliberate rest.
Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. Basic Books, 2016.
Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim. "How Resting More Can Boost Your Productivity." Greater Good. (May 11, 2017). https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_resting_more_can_boost_your_productivity.