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Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing Paperback – 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: OR Books (2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939293103
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939293107
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Andrew Smart may become the Pavlov of doing nothing. The metaphor of his title is that our brains run by themselves and that interfering with them too much - or at all - is the precondition for crashes, for people as individuals, for society and for the world in which we live.

He bases his arguments on experiments in neuroscience which indicate that much of our mental activity takes place when we are doing absolutely nothing. So, if like me, you find some of your most creative ideas occur when you are in the most out of the way places - and not in that all-important meeting or seminar - you will feel vindicated by this book.

Smart draws from philosophy, history, literature and management theory (thanks for explaining the One Minute Manager to me - I had never intended to read it) and at times draws from economics (as sparingly as he can) and even the principle of emergent properties. His is one of the best comparisons of the ant colony with the human brain that I have read; food for thought, as with the rest of his book.

He rails against the distractions which ruin our ability to think creatively and destroy productivity, including multi-tasking, digital media, the inappropriate rolling-out of management systems and the hot-housing of extramural activities for young people. With considerable logic and a fair amount of imagination, he also concludes with some radical measures for dealing with the plane crash that many believe to be our world's imminent plight.

His aims are to produce `bullet-proof scientific excuses for laziness .. possible neuroscientific insights into the relationship between idleness and creativity ... (and) to hammer the first nails into a coffin for the insufferable time management industry.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you wonder how you are going to get everything done, be somebody, earn your way, be productive, add value and stay sane .. this book will help put some of the Do Do Do impulse into a different framework.

If you are a day dreamer, one of those people that just need some down time to let "things settle", time to space out, meditate, rest, nap, and take more than 30 minutes for lunch .. this book will put your mind at ease. your not crazy, lazy or unproductive.

Just as there are more ways to skin a cat (I know a bit of a gruesome metaphor mostly known by those of us over the age of 40), there are also more ways than we might imagine for the brain to feed itself, re-nourish and do its best work.

What I got from this book is it doesn't matter whether it is corpse pose, meditation,focusing, open focus, day dreaming, resting and looking at the ceiling .. all of these activities can help us not just do our best work, but also be.

If you need to choose to Do, Be or Do ... Be is better and necessary for our physical and mental health.

Just my two cents. Cheers.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Idleness is not laziness. In fact, idleness may be an important and necessary condition for processing and synthesizing information to create new ideas and connections. The key observation and premise of the book is that latest experiments in neuroscience indicate that our brain is, in fact, extremely active when we are "idle", and that the involved regions may play an important role in helping with "creativity". As such, perhaps in our quest to fill our calendars we may have inadvertently blocked ourselves from the creative breakthroughs that we all seek?

The book is based on limited studies (and our overall understanding of this space is poor, to say the least), so the conclusions are to be taken with a grain of salt. Similarly, the used language is imprecise and at times simply wrong (e.g., the many comparisons of linear vs. nonlinear systems), but despite all that, still a thought provoking and very interesting read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From a scientific point of view, based on limited studies and profound opinions about work thought to be sacred, Andrew Smart's book is a fast read that will leave long lasting ideas about work, adhd, and a whole host of topics associated with "busyness" in a world that prides itself of how busy can a person be. Working one's self to death is not the pathway of a true warrior. There must certainly be another way to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Thank you Andrew.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I love the book because part of it is a discussion on the authors first-hand experience in neuroscience, studying the brains activity levels during task-oriented thinking as opposed to a more relaxed free-flow thinking that he refers to as autopilot (or more technically called the "default mode network"). But the other discussion he has is sociological about how the modern information age requires us to be more productive and better at multi-tasking just to keep our jobs. Which the author tends to believe is a misconception created by corporate america. This trend of corporations forcing workers to be more productive is causing our society to be more stressed-out and burned out than ever before.

Part of the author's argument is to point out this mistake made by corporate managers and proposes that we all learn to give our brains time to relax each day and just day dream. The argument for allowing our brains to relax in order to be more creative and better at problems solving is backed up by the research he has done. The audiobook is especially fun to listen to because the reader Kevin Free has such a fitting scientific voice. You will love the book if you are interested in the neuroscience argument for giving workers more leisure time or if you believe most corporations are basically no different than a Dilbert cartoon. But if you are a corporate manager who uses six-sigma or even "Getting Things Done" to force your workers to be more productive, then you may not like the book because you are presented in a very bad light. I still think you should read it though, maybe it will open your eyes to the possibility that people can be more productive if you just lighten up a little.
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