Today, we went to the countryside and cooked sausages over a fire. Not much around, very poor phone signal, and things were as they should be.

I didn’t have to think about work or what creative project I should do next. I could just enjoy hunting for firewood, sipping back a beer and playing a few games.

It’s moments like this that make me realize how shallow most of my rest is.

Instead of the deep, REM stuff where time passes without much notice and there’s no nagging feeling, there’s a shallow rest, where nothing is really settled, and there’s always a place to be or a project to do in the back of my mind.

In theory, this is exactly the sort of thing GTD and other systems are designed to aid: Working when you work and resting when you rest, safe in the knowledge that your trusted system has it covered. But in reality, many creative projects are never truly off.1

It seems that rest, creativity and productivity are complicated (who knew!) and that a lot of one size fits all advice is probably bad.

When I was in my mid 20s, I was obsessed with productivity stuff. I thought I ought to spend every waking moment doing something productive.

Of course, that was silly. I wish I had know.

I spent so much time trying to learn “how to be productive” and while it brought fruit, after a while, the benefits were reduced, the points were much a like, and I still struggled with the same issues. It made me realize that those personality traits and habits were the biggest issues I had and I could focus all my attention on those.

I’m sure this isn’t the most productive approach – there are probably more areas I could be productive in – it works for me…for now. Who knows, maybe I’ll go deep into the productive rabbit hole again one day, or maybe I’ll just forget all about that.

I have no idea.

But today, I rested. And it was good.

  1. In fact some recent neuroscience stuff seems to say our subconscious does a lot of processing when we’re resting. Especially in creative tasks. ↩︎