Brandon Eleuterio

Book Reviews

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Author: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

ISBN: 0062874780

Length: 227 pages

Date Read: 10/10/2019

My Rating: 5/5

Visit Amazon for more details.


80 hour weeks, 12 hour days, your phone is blowing up, after-hour calls, weekend emails, vacations are work-cations, stuck at the office, super busy workdays that seem unproductive, email boxes that never empty, all-nighters, neverending projects, recurring emergencies, stretch goals, too many meetings, no time to do actual work. Any of these phrases sound familiar? They describe a typical work environment at many companies. Not Basecamp.

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson run Basecamp, a small software company that takes a different approach to work than most. Basecamp’s philosophy? Be calm at work.

This seems counter-intuitive in a world that emphasizes out-hustling your competition, clocking 18 hour days, and always in meetings because that’s what you’re supposed to do to get ahead.

But, have you ever stopped to question why you’re so busy at work and whether it really has to be that way?

Readability – 5/5

Precise wording and memorable lines presented in a casual conversational format. A great read.

You might enjoy this book if…

You work for a living.

Key Takeaways

  1. Instead of more – more hours, more productivity, more to-dos, more meetings, more stress – focus on less – fewer hours, less waste, fewer distractions, fewer meetings, less stress.
  2. Specific number-based goals are fake, based on made-up figures. These types of goals increase anxiety and push people to ignore changing data just to meet an arbitrary marker.
  3. Your most valuable assets are time and attention. Prioritize protecting both.
  4. “Modern-day offices have become interruption factories.”…”People are working longer and later because they can’t get work done at work anymore!”
  5. To do the best creative work: be part of a team of no more than three, have long blocks (hours) of uninterrupted time to focus, single-task, set a reasonable deadline, narrow the scope as you go, f your deadline seems too daunting, cut scope further.
  6. Realtime meetings encourage knee-jerk reactions. Avoid real-time chat and instead, communicate in asynchronous long-form writing to allow thoughtful consideration of ideas. As the presenter, you’ve taken the time to prepare and gather your thoughts. The audience should be afforded the same luxury.
  7. “Depth, not breadth, is where mastery is often found.”
  8. Benefits and compensation should benefit the employee and not the company.
  9. “People have no problem with change they asked for. What people don’t like is forced change—change they didn’t request on a timeline they didn’t choose.”
  10. If you’re not in a position to make wholesale changes at your company, start with yourself. As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Why did I read this book?

I heard Jason Fried interviewed on several podcasts. I follow Jason Fried on Twitter. So much of what he says makes sense, reading this book seemed like the obvious next step.

Best Quote

It’s perfectly okay to have nothing to do. Or, better yet, nothing worth doing. If you’ve only got three hours of work to do on a given day, then stop.

– Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

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