“I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death,” spits Nas in his Illmatic track ‘N.Y. State of Mind.’
What he may have overlooked is that sleep, and indeed rest can make you even more productive.
It’s a canard to think that all successful people do is just work. It’s more complicated than that. Scientists Charles Darwin and writer Ernest Hemingway excelled at relaxing. They put in a few deliberate hours of effortful work and just as equally, took their foot off the gas to do other stuff: socialize, spend time with family, walk. They were wise slackers.
24/7 connectivity exacerbates our always work-leisure problem. Like a doctor, we make ourselves available to everything from the trite to the important, treating work and freedom as continuous instead of mutually exclusive.
Integrating task and play backfires. Availability is a game of neediness, we want to show people what we’re up to but then get sucked into the abyss of distraction. We are addicted to the endless stream impressions to alleviate the anxiety in our heads.
What if our productivity depends on the ability to chill out? What if we could practice more deliberately so we could slow down afterward. The work is vital; to master it, we need to free the mind from labor’s oppressive demands.