Do Pause Book Summary - Do Pause Book explained in key points
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Do Pause summary

Robert Poynton

You Are Not a To Do List

4.4 (308 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Do Pause by Robert Poynton is a guide to the power of pausing, reflecting and taking a moment to reconnect with our true selves. It offers practical advice for making regular pauses a part of our daily routine to help us live more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

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    Do Pause
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    We no longer stop to appreciate the view and machines are to blame. 

    When did you last stop to look around you? On a recent hike through the Spanish mountains, the author realized that his friends kept falling behind him as they stopped to appreciate the view. He had been striding ahead, alone. Why? Because he had been thinking of the walk as something he needed to achieve rather than a pleasant afternoon to be savored. 

    When we adopt an achievement-oriented mindset, we cut ourselves off from the pleasures of daily life. While the author may have been making great time toward the summit, his friends were enjoying the experience a lot more than he was.

    We often treat our children as if they were simply an endless round of tasks to be completed. We might feed them, take them to school, and make sure they do their homework, but how often do we press pause on our families’ hectic schedules, and take the time to enjoy our children? 

    Unfortunately, we pay attention to our packed to-do lists while ignoring all the “negative space” that lies between the tasks. This is a shame, because it’s this space that flavors our lives – it’s the walk between the bottom of the mountain and the top, and all the opportunity for pleasure it brings. 

    How did we become so obsessed with completing tasks and achieving things? Much of the blame lies with new technologies and our endless quest to emulate machines. 

    Machines are designed to work as fast and efficiently as possible. Whether they’re making cars or analyzing data, machines are built for repetitive tasks and a constant working pace. But although machines are designed to function like this, people definitely aren’t. Even so, we are expected to imitate their ruthless efficiency. We talk admiringly, for example, of our coworker who is “always on.” In a world of email and instant messaging, we demand ever-faster responses from each other. And often it’s the speed of the response we value, rather than its quality.

    In this relentless environment, taking a pause is associated with reduced productivity and procrastination. Machines don’t stop to appreciate the view, the thinking goes, so why should we? 

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    What is Do Pause about?

    Do Pause (2019) explores the benefits of pressing pause on the whirlwind of modern life. Debunking the damaging myths surrounding productivity and achievement, these blinks reveal why, how, and when you should take a break. 

    Best quote from Do Pause

    As writer Pico Iyer says: The one thing technology cannot give us is a sense of how to make the wisest use of technology.

    —Robert Poynton
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    Who should read Do Pause?

    • Workaholics looking for balance
    • Creatives seeking fresh insights
    • Self-help buffs who want a new angle

    About the Author

    Robert Poynton is an associate fellow of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, where he designs and facilitates executive education programs. Poynton is also the author of Do Improvise (2013), a handbook of improvisation techniques for business leaders, and regularly hosts weekend retreats for busy professionals.

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