Book Review: It doesn’t have to be crazy at work – Jason Fried and David Hansson
This is a short book about efficiency and calm in the workplace. I read it six months or so ago and some of the concepts are really useful if you are used to working in high pressure environments.
Curb your ambition – don’t try to change the world
Defend your time – don’t allow others to distract you all day and prevent any work getting done
Feed your culture – library rules for the workplace
Dissect your process – looking at teams and work practices
Mind your business – differences between common startup culture and the basecamp way
While some of the book comes across as a bit preachy “We only work 12 hours a week which is why we published a short blog post as a book” there are some absolute gems in there which I hadn’t thought of before.
It’s clear that the authors have put a lot of thought in to the culture at basecamp and they’ve shared their management style in this book.
Basecamp is quite special as they’ve operated and grown on company profits rather than taking VC funding. They were pretty early to the SAAS market and this has allowed them to work at their own pace and build a company that the owners enjoy running. I think the advice is probably better suited to an established company management team rather than to a young person who is starting up on their own but everyone can probably take something from this book.
Generally speaking I think there is a huge issue with distractions in most work places. Social media, email and messaging apps are probably the worse offenders where if you don’t actively protect blocks of time to do work then it’s very hard to concentrate 100% without a ping or message coming through that loses your train of thought.
For coding I find this especially important as without full focus the code quality suffers. I know I work best when I immerse myself in my text editor and put everything else out of reach.
Automation, outsourcing and spreadsheets can also play a big part in finding calm in the workplace. Can certain jobs that are taking up time but not providing real value be automated or outsourced? I use a kanban spreadsheet to plan my week and try to check email, social media and coinmarketcap a maximum of twice a day.
Some of the book covers the inefficiencies of meetings which I think is important. Zoom meetings seem to be taking over as the new norm for team and external interactions. The free tier limits a meeting to 40 minutes which is a wonderful thing but the total man power lost to meetings annually is still huge.
Back to the book, if you are working in a stressful environment and are able to influence the company culture then this book is well worth a read. If you can get 1% of the basecamp zen in to your workplace then it’ll be worth the time.