Reading Notes #01: It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

I have read quite a few interesting books over the last couple of years and figured, since I'm writing down personal notes anyway, why not share them here for you as well. I'll do my best to make them as generally useful as possible, but bare with me if some don't make a lot of sense without the context of my business or situation.

Let's kick things off with on of my favorites: It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

It Doesnt Have to Be Crazy at Work
It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

Valuable Learnings

Your company is a product

Yes, the things you make are products (or services), but your company is the thing that makes those things. That’s why your company should be your best product.

No Software-Releases on Friday

Releases on a Friday put a lot of pressure on any developer. Things can (and will) go wrong from time to time. Fixing critical errors and bugs most likely means working through the weekend for your team and eat away precious time to recharge batteries.

Everyone’s status should be implicit: "I’m trying to do my job, please respect my time and attention."

This one is pretty self-explanatory but incredibly important - especially when working in a remote team. 1.) Trust that everyone is trying to do his or her job and try to judge everyones productivity or motivation by the work they produce. and 2.) Give people time to respond to any questions or issues whenever they find the time to do so. Nothing is worse for ones productivity as getting constantly distracted.

40 hours a week is enough

If you can’t fit everything you want to do within 40 hours per week, you need to get better at picking what to do, not work longer hours. Most of what we think we have to do, we don’t have to do at all. It’s a choice, and often it’s a poor one. 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.

The quality hour we’re after is 1 × 60. A fractured hour isn’t really an hour—it’s a mess of minutes. It’s really hard to get anything meaningful done with such crummy input. A quality hour is 1 × 60, not 4 × 15. A quality day is at least 4 × 60, not 4 × 15 × 4.

I personally use RescueTime to track my productivity and how long I've been working on any given day. You can also create alerts for when you reach a certain time limit, or even block distractions automatically during your work hours.

The dirty little secret of running a business

Getting things off the ground is so hard that it’s natural to expect it’ll just get easier from here. Except it doesn’t. Things get harder as you go, not easier. The easiest day is day one. That’s the dirty little secret of business.

Writing it down forces you to go deep on ideas

Whenever we start working on a new project at appointmed, we always write an "Option" first. This is an item in our product backlog, which describes the potential improvement or feature in great detail before it is even considered for development. Everyone on the team is encouraged to leave their feedback in the form of comments or by refining the idea as well.

We don’t want first impressions. We don’t want knee-jerks. We want considered feedback. Read it over. Read it twice, three times even. Sleep on it. Take your time to gather and present your thoughts—just like the person who pitched the original idea took their time to gather and present theirs. That’s how you go deep on an idea.