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”.)


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


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.


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


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.

Doer of Science