It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

After "Getting Real" (2006), "Rework" (2010), and "Remote" (2013), last year Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson published new book titled "It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work". Both authors are the co-founders of Basecamp, previously 37signals, and the creator of the infamous web application framework: Ruby on Rails. Like their all previous books, there are a lot of great insights about how to run a company from them, although I don't agree at some points. This post is the summary lesson learned of their last book, which contain practices that are very insightful and also good reminders for me to run Suitmedia as a calm profitable company.

It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

A company is like software. It has to be usable, it has to be useful. And it probably also has bugs, places where the company crashes because of bad organizational design or cultural oversights. When you start to think about your company as a product, all sorts of new possibilities for improvement emerge. When you realize the way you work is malleable, you can start molding something new, something better. Whether you own it, run it, or “just” work there, it takes everyone involved to make it better.

Curb Your Ambition

You can absolutely run a great business without a single "goal". You don’t need something fake to do something real. And if you must have a goal, how about just staying in business? Or serving your customers well? Or being a delightful place to work? Just because these goals are harder to quantify does not make them any less important.

Defend Your Time

Your time in the office feels shorter because it’s sliced up into a dozen smaller bits. Most people don’t actually have 8 hours a day to work, they have a couple of hours. The rest of the day is stolen from them by meetings, conference calls, and other distractions. So while you may be at the office for 8 hours, it feels more like just a few.

When you cut out what’s unnecessary, you’re left with what you need. And all you need is 8 hours a day for about 5 days a week. You can’t expect people to do great work if they don’t have a full day’s attention to devote to it. Partial attention is barely attention at all.

Effective > Productive. When people focus on productivity, they end up focusing on being busy. Filling every moment with something to do. And there’s always more to do! Being productive is about occupying your time—filling your schedule to the brim and getting as much done as you can. Being effective is about finding more of your time unoccupied and open for other things besides work. Time for leisure, time for family and friends. Or time for doing absolutely nothing.