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Book Review: ‘Do Pause: You are Not a To Do List’

Throughout the pandemic, the world has been in lockdown. One may consider 2020 as part of a “pause or break” moment. Hence, I am sharing my review of Robert Poynton’s Do Pause: You are not a To Do list., which might help you reflect upon the impact of this “pause or break” in your life and what good it brought you.

Professor Poynton designs and runs an executive education program at the Saïd Business School in the UK, helping high-level executives with their leadership and personal development by understanding and working with complex changes.

A pause as we know is to break away from something. This book shows the importance of taking a pause in our lives. Allowing for a pause allows one to be happier, reflect on the deeper meaning of life, and cultivate creative thinking. Poynton introduces various kinds of pauses such as a “short pause” like a comma, a lunch break, a walk, or a “medium pause” such as weekends, and a “longer pause” such as months of sabbatical or what Bill Gates calls “Think Week” where he goes for a week and switches everything off to have a pause.

Taking a pause runs contrary to most of Asia in a traditional sense. In Asia, the mentality is to work hard and keep-working without a break. Cram everything and don’t even use the weekend to rest up for the week ahead. My life previously was precisely just that. I had to work day and night. On Friday evenings upon completion of a meeting, it is customary to hear from the management “now you have the weekend to complete that and deliver it early Monday morning.”

Having read this book, it reminded me of what I had missed these past few years and moving forward, to try and correct any mistakes moving forward. Not only that, taking a pause is essential for good health, but it is also a critical time to reconnect with yourself. Reconnecting with yourself is what matters. It is a moment of regeneration of new ideas and perspectives; it deepens one’s thinking.

This book is suitable for those who intend to take a break. Furthermore, the book is an insightful book to confirm what you think you already know but have not taken action. It is useful for those who exercise a pause to read the references from Robert Poynton’s experience and encounters from people of all ages and walks of life on the theory behind why we “do need to pause.”