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Autopilot. The Art and Science of Doing Nothing



Original Language: English (USA) | 164 pp. | June 2013

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French and Nordic rights.

Rights sold: Germany (Mosaik/Randomhouse), Russia (Alpina), Turkey (Nail Kitabevi), India (Sage), Italy (Indiana), Korea (Mediawill M&B), Spain/Argentina (Clave Intelectual/Capital), and Japan (Soshisha).


“A tour de force of an academic field that doesn’t really exist just yet – the science of being idle. Andrew Smart synthesizes a whole range of cutting-edge ideas in neuroscience, dynamic systems theory, psychology, literature, pop culture, and philosophy, and gives us a hugely entertaining read about what we do most of the time, i.e. nothing. Autopilot finishes with the most stimulating and provocative ideas about who we really are, reflections on what our society has come to, and how to fix it. If you are to read one pop science book this year, this should be it.”—Prof. Hakwan Lau, Department of Psychology, Columbia University

Andrew Smart wants you to sit and do nothing much more often – and he has the science to explain why.

At every turn we’re pushed to do more, faster and more efficiently: that drumbeat resounds throughout our wage-slave society. Multitasking is not only a virtue, it’s a necessity. Books such as Getting Things Done, The One Minute Manager, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People regularly top the bestseller lists, and have spawned a considerable industry.

But Andrew Smart argues that slackers may have the last laugh. The latest neuroscience shows that the “culture of effectiveness” is not only ineffective, it can be harmful to your well-being. He makes a compelling case – backed by science – that filling life with activity at work and at home actually hurts your brain.

A survivor of corporate-mandated “Six Sigma” training to improve efficiency, Smart has channeled a self-described “loathing” of the time-management industry into a witty, informative and wide-ranging book that draws on the most recent research into brain power. Use it to explain to bosses, family, and friends why you need to relax – right now.


A human factors research scientist, Andrew Smart received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Lund University in Lund, Sweden, where he worked on using noise to improve memory and attention in children with ADHD. He worked as a junior scientist at New York University where he analyzed brain imaging data from experiments on the neural basis of language. His recent work includes developing sensor-based indices of cognitive effort among cancer and stroke survivors. Autopilot: the Art & Science of Doing Nothing is his first book.