Active Recovery and Recharging to Become More Focused

By: Amanda Young

Workers in places with higher work week averages, like the United States, need to work on having balanced schedules in order to maintain a healthy mental state and to be productive. A balanced schedule consists of an appropriate amount of time for work and multiple times of rest.  

Most individuals believe that pushing themselves to constantly be on the go is living a productive life.  However, science suggests that the individuals that believe this are wrong.  Longer work hours lead to stress, burnout and eventually an overall poor work performance.  In the long run, stress and burnout also leads individuals to lack creativity and innovation.

How to rest?

In order for busy people to be productive, it is important that they put aside time for rest. 


In order to achieve state DEEP WORK, ie  “Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit” we need to conversely take an approach that allows us to rest our mind in a world with more distractions than ever.

Quieting the mind even in small doses, such as 5 minutes meditation can have cognitive benefits. Pro-longed retreats have been used by the world’s top entrepreneurs and thinkers as a form of relaxation, to see things from a different perspective and recharge.

Active Rest can involve enjoyable, passionate hobbies where one is still very much engaged.

Hal Elrod, author of Deep Work, refers as the opposite tendency as SHALLOW WORK, which is more and more common in a world with increasing access to information. Shallow Work “Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

Shallow Work comes as a result of not taking downtime for yourself. Without this needed rest, and rest for the body and mind, we fall into a state of limited focus that keeps us from achieving a higher level of effectiveness in our work.

Top ways to rest for better performance according to Deep Work

  • Distance yourself from social media. 
  • Set a strict schedule to get work done.
  • Commutes, exercise, cleaning and other repetitive tasks are great for brainstorming work concepts.
  • 4DX framework: 4DX stands for the 4 disciplines of execution.  The 4 disciplines include focusing on a small list of goals at a time; acting on what is most valuable and what is going to be measured; tracking goals and achievements; and creating a steady rhythm to move towards achieving larger goals. 
  • Stay on top of shallow work: Shallow work consists of small daily tasks like checking your email and creating lists.  Avoiding small and easy tasks like these can induce more stress.  Overtime shallow work can add up and make it harder to complete easy tasks like these.

More on Deep Work below:

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.