Announcing: Catherine’s Second Theorem Of Work Versus Rest

I wish to announce that I have completed Catherine’s Second Theorem Of Work Versus Rest.

Catherine’s First Theorem Of Work Versus Rest was stated thus:

There are three categories of work versus rest:

  • Working hard
  • Taking it easy
  • Taking a day off

The practice:

Since you have so much to do, taking it easy is preferable to taking a day off. Working hard is best.

But those classifications are inaccurate.

After extensive further testing, I have created a much more accurate model with its own corollaries. I am confident that this model is both more reflective of reality and more useful to the practical scientist.

Catherine’s Second Theorem Of Work Versus Rest

There are two categories of work, two of rest and one amalgam. They are:

Creative labour

High-end creative output, including writing, design, research, innovation, strategy, performance, development.

This work requires incubation, percolation and time.

(Credit to my colleague Lewis Hyde for his exploration of the difference between “creative labour” and “work”.)

Work

All of the other tasks of one’s business, from pressing seams to answering emails to marketing to customer maintenance.

Sorta-Kinda

A mixture of work and rest. This phenomenon is actually two similar events:

Sorta-Working, where the subject attempts to get work done but with constant distraction and attention drift to pleasure activities.

Sorta-Resting, where the subject attempts to relax but with constant distraction and attention drift back to work tasks.

Rest

Naps, sleep, play, dance, light exercise, social exchanges, and pleasurable activities of all kinds.

Unplug

Time spent without creating and without consuming, including meditation, walks (without headphones), cloud/fish/train-watching, swimming in the ocean, playing with the dog, and snuggling.

The implications of this new model

1. Unsuitability of the Sorta-Kinda activities for practical use.

The Sorta-Kinda category is not, as previously theorised, a clever way to get work done while conserving energy. It has become clear that it is actually ineffectual at both tasks – getting very little work done, while also delivering very little rest.

With prolonged use, subjects have reported the following symptoms:

  • restlessness
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • lack of creativity
  • lack of focus
  • reduced pleasure in their work
  • continual fatigue
  • difficulty in problem-solving
  • reduced ability to persevere
  • missing deadlines
  • declining work standards
  • irritation

I have experienced many of these symptoms myself. Thus, I am now experimenting with removing this category entirely. I will either work (creative labour and work included here) or I will rest (unplugging and rest included here). Sorta-Working and Sorta-Resting will be discontinued.

I will document my results in a paper to be published later.

2. How to resolve problems in work and creative labour.

Work and creative labour (henceforth referred to collectively as “work activities”) both require energy – prodigious amounts, especially in the case of creative labour. Work activities burn this energy inefficiently, resulting in an overall decrease in the energy put into the system.

This shortfall in energy must be obtained from other sources, most notably rest and unplugging (henceforth referred to collectively as “rest activities”).

Thus, if one is experiencing a decline in output of work activities that is due to insufficient energy levels, attempting to do more work activities will only increase the problem. Under such circumstances, rest activities are the only logical solution.

Put succinctly: if you can’t work, you must rest.

3. Additional notes regarding creative labour.

It has been documented by other studies that a regular output of creative labour requires a regular input of unplugging.

This is logical, as unplugging is a time – for some subjects, the only time while awake – where the subject is not absorbing more data, and the mind is allowed to be fallow, contemplative, and make its own connections. These connections are vital to the formation of truly creative thought, and are considerably less likely to occur in a subject whose brain is constantly stimulated.

Thus, a regular practice of unplugging is as vital as regular rest for the maintenance of creative labour. I mention this to highlight a part of the model: rest and unplugging are separate activities. Some hyper-efficient subjects have attempted to combine them, but thus far all attempts have reduced the output of one – or both – of the desired activities.

I look forward to your peer review of this model. I am confident you will find it accurate and applicable.

Regards,
Catherine
Doer of Science

  • http://remadebyhand.com/ Erin Kurup

    The “sortas” are my Achilles heels! (If one can have two!) I suspect somewhere I have boundary failure, or some underlying thing that is causing resistance to actual work, and that I should root out the issue so I can actually work. Because I get stuck in the sorta space so that neither rest/unplugging nor work is complete. It’s exhausting and discouraging. Now to implement this lovely theorem…

    • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

      It is SO tricksy. My experiment is getting undercut by persistent cheating (“While The Dude is getting a drink, I’ll just quickly check my email. Aw, dangit!”) I think the more we try, the easier it gets.

      • http://remadebyhand.com/ Erin Kurup

        Yes! The cheating gets me. I’m terrible about quickly checking email as a “break” from working. And that’s like the one site I probably shouldn’t block with one of those focus-y type apps!

        • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

          We did it as a challenge in the Provocateurs, and I was VERY good for a little while. I have backslid. Time to try again!

          • http://remadebyhand.com/ Erin Kurup

            Ooh, challenge? I like the sound of that :)

  • http://www.jenvertanen.com/ Jen V. :: Biz Strategist

    You. Are. Brilliant!!!!! And I have a horrible case of the ‘sortas’..hm….me’thinks I have some work to do around this :).

    • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

      JOIN US. Banish the sortas! Live free, comrade!

  • http://twitter.com/Hoombah Great Jollyhoombah

    Your writing is absolutely electrifying. I just begged my wife to please hie herself over to your site and have a poke around. It is laugh out loud in the library or perhaps church if one is so inclined, funny.

    Oh, and the post. Yes, sorta-kinda was a fantastic resource when I taught music in public school. I hated what I was doing, so I devised several activities that made me appear to be furiously busy but took very low levels of energy. Then I would scurry of to my office on break and creatively labour my effing head off toward finding new and improved employment.

    • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

      Thank you very kindly for the beam-inducing compliment!

      Yes, I suspect most of us pick up sorta-kinda during our tenures in Day Job Land. You have to do a lot of it there.