Here’s how to stop acting like you’re an emotionless computer, writes Val Day

Working longer and harder, multi-tasking, distracted by emails, frustrated and disengaged? Then this book is for you.

Tony Schwartz graphically describes the unsustainability of the “more, bigger, faster” approach to modern life and the effect on our health and emotional well-being.

Like it or not, humans don’t operate like computers. His thesis is that we are incapable of multi-tasking and are hard wired to do tasks sequentially. Attempting two cognitive tasks at once is more time consuming than doing one after the other.

Having described the impact of modern ways of living and working, Schwartz sets out how to achieve sustainable high performance, with a wealth of common sense advice. 

He explores four areas: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. As well as a host of useful tips, such as working in 90-120 minute bursts followed by a short rest, there is a particularly powerful section on emotional needs and the impact of how we feel on how we perform. This does not just apply to managers - would you want to be operated on by a burnt-out surgeon? The impact of negative emotional states on leadership behaviour will resonate with anyone who has been on the receiving end of dysfunctional attempts at motivation.

This book should make you think hard about how you live your life. Whether it will inspire you to make changes will depend on your insight and self-awareness, but for those who do, your family and work colleagues will be grateful.

Val Day is an independent consultant in public health medicine.

  • Are you up to speed with the latest management thinking? If you would like to review management journals or books for HSJ, email your suggestions to