It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work [book review]

“We don’t have to live that way.” It’s a plea from Sean Nelson’s Born Without A Heart, but also something I like to remember when I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. And it happens to sum up what Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Hansson remind us in It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work.

What’s the gist?
Fried and Hansson believe the modern workplace is a sick, vile, chaotic place. But it’s not beyond salvaging. You don’t have to work at a frenetic pace that creates anxiety and burns you out. Instead you can choose calm (and still be damn successful). They spend the book describing what a calm organization looks like and what they’ve learned through trial and error at Basecamp.

Should I read this?
If you’re interested in breaking the status quo of long workweeks, endless communications, unrealistic deadlines, and more — then yes. If the term “hustle” sounds like a basic buzzword to you — absolutely. While you may not be able to implement everything Basecamp does, I’d be shocked if you can’t do something that your organization and employees will benefit from. Also, if you prefer calm like I do, it’ll give you a nice rubric of what to look for in a future job search.

Notable quotes
Holy shit, lots of them. I went overboard, but…

“What’s worse is that long hours, excessive busyness, and lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for many people these days. Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it’s a mark of stupidity.”

“In almost every situation, the expectation of an immediate response is an unreasonable expectation. Yet with more and more real-time communication tools creeping into daily work—especially instant-messaging tools and group chat—the expectation of an immediate response has become the new normal. This is not progress.”

“Yes, 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. Don’t fill your day with five more just to stay busy or feel productive. Not doing something that isn’t worth doing is a wonderful way to spend your time.”

“Open-plan offices suck at providing an environment for calm, creative work done by professionals who need peace, quiet, privacy, and space to think and do their best.”

“We’ve found that nurturing untapped potential is far more exhilarating than finding someone who’s already at their peak. We hired many of our best people not because of who they were but because of who they could become.”

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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