Books That Inspire: It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

I hope everyone's start to 2019 is going great. With the start of the new year, I know many of you set personal development goals. I figured that one of these goals might be to read more, so I thought I would try to spur you along! We have been sharing books some books that have inspired us recently, and I have a few more to share over the next few months. Today’s book is:


It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

This book is the latest installment from the guy's at Basecamp. I really enjoyed this book, which wasn't surprising because our cultures align so similarly.  We have been a fan of Basecamp for a long time and we don’t even utilize their software, so it isn’t because we have a bias. We just think that their approach to business is sustainable versus untenable.

The gist of this book is that work, especially in the last 10-15 years, has gotten insane. Crazy long hours, lack of sleep, pointless meetings and a complete lack of productivity is becoming the unfortunate norm in business today. In fact, some of these things are supposedly a “hustler’s badge of honor”.  Hardly...

I love how they take the approach that life is not just work. They have a great quote, “Life has become work’s leftovers”. It really couldn’t be more true.  The more time and hours someone puts into work the more likely they will experience burnout, versus using rest and recovery to create strength in an organization. I love this quote from the book too: “The answer isn’t more hours, it’s less bullshit. Less waste, not more production. And far fewer things that induce distraction, always-on anxiety, and stress.” It seems like sometimes we forget that we work to create the life we want to live, not live to work.

As living proof, they are running a very successful tech company without these pressures, in an industry where these issues can be more magnified than in others. They give both strategic and tactical solutions for how to work against the inertia of some of these business norms.

A couple of my favorite concepts are as follows:

  1. Narrowing Your Focus -They argue that it is better to cut and narrow your focus versus un-ending expansion. It's great to expand, but only when you are great at what you already do, as well as have the capacity. Just because you CAN jump into a space, doesn’t mean you have to. This is especially true if you have not already given appropriate resources to current ventures, or done enough planning on the new direction. They also believe that after the initial dust settles on a project that the work load should decrease, not increase.

  2. The Two Tokens - This concept applies to how two different people will view the same situation. For every negative situation, there are two tokens on the table.  One says “It’s no big deal” and the other “It’s the end of the world”. Whichever token you choose, the other person will take the opposite.  Choose wisely. This is a lesson in empathy - that there is almost no downside to listening to the other person and recognizing what a big deal it is to them, even if it isn’t to you. This also de-escalates the situation into a calmer, more cooperative discussion.

  3. Saying No - No is a no to one thing. Yes is a no to a thousand things. Focus on the one thing you are being asked about. If you say yes to it, you are inevitably saying no to other things, either other current options or other future opportunities.

  4. Have Less To Do - There is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. Even if you are moving through tasks, if they are not supporting your overall goals, you should cut them out completely. Focusing your attention, time and energy on things that move you in the direction of your goals will get you there faster.

This books is an easy read and had a few great takeaways. I would encourage you to add it to your 2019 reading list.


Liz WhittenComment