The one-sentence summary

If you want to get promoted, do as little as possible (but be aware that you may also be fired).


  • Society today extols the virtues of efficiency and frowns upon laziness, but as Oscar Wilde once said: doing nothing is hard work
  • As modern life grows ever more demanding, the loafers of this world may feel the odds stacking against them
  • The book offers an antidote to the work-obsessed culture that puts so many obstacles between ourselves and our dreams. It offers suggestions on how to reclaim your right to sleep in, skive off, lunch at leisure, have a hangover and take time out; and how to let the day slip past you in the best possible way
  • In doing so, you’ll be taking control of your life


  • In a narrative form, the book moves through the day from morning to night, and suggests what you can do enjoy life more and not be a slave to work
  • Lying in bed half awake – what sleep researchers call the hypnagogic dream state – is positively beneficial to health and happiness, and can help prepare you mentally for the problems and tasks ahead. It is also the time when some of our best ideas come to us
  • The rational overmind largely ignores the emotional or spiritual undermind, but this is where we build up strength to cope with life’s struggles
  • Nobody knows why but sleep can solve many of our problems. Apparently insurmountable problems look better in the morning.
  • “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” John Steinbeck
  • We feel guilty taking time off, and we shouldn’t. Americans now work an extra month a year compared with 30 years ago, averaging nine hours a day. Life is supposed to be getting easier, but we still elect to overwork.
  • Those overdoing it in the workplace would do well to take a little time out and absorb the contents of this book


  • This is a relaxed essay with a series of thoughts about the work/life balance, so strict application to business issues has to be regarded in a philosophical light. There are tonal and lifestyle suggestions throughout, but don’t expect a method that will revolutionise your life – it’s the spirit of it that counts.