It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

Jason FriedDavid Heinemeier Hansson

Finished Reading:
Feb 26, 2019

Edition Publisher:
Harper Business

Edition Release:
Oct 2, 2018

Purchase Search via DuckDuckGo:
ISBN 9780062874788

Highlights & Annotations


It’s Crazy at Work > Page 4 · Location 104

Stress is passed from organization to employee , from employee to employee , and then from employee to customer .

Your Company Is a Product > Page 9 · Location 149

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 .

Curb Your Ambition

Bury the Hustle > Page 17 · Location 189

And for everyone in that tiny minority that somehow finds what they’re looking for in the grind , there are so many more who end up broken , wasted , and burned out with nothing to show for it . And for what ?

Happy Pacifists > Page 22 · Location 229

“ Comparison is the death of joy . ” We’re with Mark . We don’t compare . What others do has no bearing on what we’re able to do , what we want to do , or what we choose to do .

Don’t Change the World > Page 31 · Location 289

you won’t sound like a delusional braggart when you describe what you do at the next family get - together . “ What do I do ? Oh , I work at PetEmoji — we’re changing the world by disrupting

Make It Up as You Go > Page 32 · Location 302

We simply believe that you’re better off steering the ship with a thousand little inputs as you go rather than a few grand sweeping movements made way ahead of time .

Make It Up as You Go > Page 33 · Location 306

Much corporate anxiety comes from the realization that the company has been doing the wrong thing , but it’s too late to change direction because of the “ Plan . ” “ We’ve got to see it through ! ” Seeing a bad idea through just because at one point it sounded like a good idea is a tragic waste of energy and talent .

Note - Make It Up as You Go > Page 33 · Location 309

Sunken cost fallacy

Comfy’s Cool > Page 34 · Location 319

Oftentimes it’s not breaking out , but diving in , digging deeper , staying in your rabbit hole that brings the biggest gains . Depth , not breadth , is where mastery is often found .

Note - Comfy’s Cool > Page 34 · Location 321

// happiness comes with mastery of skills

Defend Your Time

8’s Enough, 40’s Plenty > Page 42 · Location 349

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 .

Protectionism > Page 44 · Location 371

It’s sad to think that some people crave a commute because it’s the only time during the day they have to themselves .

The Outwork Myth > Page 52 · Location 414

A great work ethic isn’t about working whenever you’re called upon. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do, putting in a fair day’s work, respecting the work, respecting the customer, respecting coworkers, not wasting time, not creating unnecessary work for other people, and not being a bottleneck. Work ethic is about being a fundamentally good person that others can count on and enjoy working with.

Work Doesn’t Happen at Work > Page 55 · Location 443

People are working longer and later because they can’t get work done at work anymore!

Office Hours > Page 56 · Location 452

Most questions just aren’t that pressing, but the urge to ask the expert immediately is irresistible 

Office Hours > Page 57 · Location 456

They may be fielding none, a handful, or a dozen questions in a single day, who knows. What’s worse , they don’t know when these questions might come up.

Calendar Tetris > Page 63 · Location 485

You can only do great work if you have adequate quality time to do it . So when someone takes that from you , they crush your feeling of accomplishment from a good day’s work . The deep satisfaction you’d experience from actually making progress , not just talking about it , is eliminated .

Calendar Tetris > Page 63 · Location 487

You’ll always be stressed out , feeling robbed of the ability to actually do your job .

Calendar Tetris > Page 63 · Location 489

No one wants to be seen as “difficult” or “inaccessible”

FOMO? JOMO! > Page 71 · Location 547

We must all stop treating every little fucking thing that happens at work like it’s on a breaking-news ticker.

Feed Your Culture

We’re Not Family > Page 78 · Location 576

The best companies aren’t families . They’re supporters of families . Allies of families . They’re there to provide healthy , fulfilling work environments so that when workers shut their laptops at a reasonable hour , they’re the best husbands , wives , parents , siblings , and children they can be .

Don’t Be the Last to Know > Page 85 · Location 626

If the boss really wants to know what’s going on , the answer is embarrassingly obvious : They have to ask ! Not vague , self - congratulatory bullshit questions like “ What can we do even better ? ” but the hard ones like “ What’s something nobody dares to talk about ? ” or “ Are you afraid of anything at work ? ” or “ Is there anything you worked on recently that you wish you could do over ? ” Or even more specific ones like “ What do you think we could have done differently to help Jane succeed ? ” or “ What advice would you give before we start on the big website redesign project ? ”

The Owner’s Word Weighs a Ton > Page 88 · Location 648

Every such idea is a pebble that’s going to cause ripples when it hits the surface . Throw enough pebbles in the pond and the overall picture becomes as clear as mud .

Low-Hanging Fruit Can Still Be Out of Reach > Page 91 · Location 661

The problem , as we’ve learned over time , is that the further away you are from the fruit , the lower it looks . Once you get up close , you see it’s quite a bit higher than you thought . We assume that picking it will be easy only because we’ve never tried to do it before .

Low-Hanging Fruit Can Still Be Out of Reach > Page 91 · Location 665

The worst is when you load up these expectations on new hires and assume they’ll meet them all quickly . You’re basically setting them up to fail .

Low-Hanging Fruit Can Still Be Out of Reach > Page 92 · Location 679

If momentum and experience are on your side , what is hard can masquerade as easy , but never forget that not having done something before doesn’t make it easy . It usually makes it hard .

Don’t Cheat Sleep > Page 94 · Location 692

The smallest things become the biggest dramas . That hurts colleagues at work as much as it does the family at home . Being short on sleep turns the astute into assholes .

Don’t Cheat Sleep > Page 94 · Location 696

Ask anyone who’s been on a two - week bender with little sleep if they can remember what they did last Tuesday . Most probably cannot . And no , “ lots of stuff ” doesn’t count .

Don’t Cheat Sleep > Page 94 · Location 699

what happens over and over again is that people who start on long hours simply stay on long hours .

Out of Whack > Page 96 · Location 714

If it’s easier for work to claim a Sunday than for life to borrow a Thursday , there ain’t no balance

Out of Whack > Page 96 · Location 717

It’s pretty basic . If you work Monday to Friday , weekends should be off - limits for work . And it’s also why if you decide you want to take a Wednesday to hang with your kids , that’s cool , too . You don’t have to “ make up ” the day — just be responsible with your time and make sure your team knows when you won’t be around . It all rounds out in the end . The same thing is true with weekday nights . If work can claim hours after 5 : 00 p.m . , then life should be able to claim hours before 5 : 00 p.m . Balance , remember . Give and take .

Nobody Hits the Ground Running > Page 105 · Location 778

The quickest way to disappointment is to set unreasonable expectations .

No Fakecations > Page 123 · Location 935

Ambiguity breeds anxiety .

Dissect Your Process

The Wrong Time for Real-Time > Page 134 · Location 979

Almost everything can and should wait until someone has had a chance to think it through and properly write it up .

The Wrong Time for Real-Time > Page 134 · Location 983

When it comes to chat , we have two primary rules of thumb : “ Real - time sometimes , asynchronous most of the time ” and “ If it’s important , slow down . ”

Dreadlines > Page 136 · Location 1001

Our deadlines remain fixed and fair . They are fundamental to our process — and making progress . If it’s due on November 20 , then it’s due on November 20 . The date won’t move up and the date won’t move back . What’s variable is the scope of the problem — the work itself . But only on the downside . You can’t fix a deadline and then add more work to it . That’s not fair . Our projects can only get smaller over time , not larger . As we progress , we separate the must - haves from the nice - to - haves and toss out the nonessentials .

Dreadlines > Page 137 · Location 1005

And who makes the decision about what stays and what goes in a fixed period of time ? The team that’s working on it . Not the CEO , not the CTO . The team that’s doing the work has control over the work .

Dreadlines > Page 137 · Location 1012

We’re not fans of estimates because , let’s face it , humans suck at estimating .

Don’t Be a Knee-Jerk > Page 139 · Location 1032

When we present work , it’s almost always written up first . A complete idea in the form of a carefully composed multipage document . Illustrated , whenever possible . And then it’s posted to Basecamp , which lets everyone involved know there’s a complete idea waiting to be considered .

Watch Out for 12-Day Weeks > Page 143 · Location 1058

When there’s more at stake , you tend to measure twice , cut once .

The New Normal > Page 146 · Location 1067

Normal comes on quick . First it starts as an outlier . Some behavior you don’t love , but tolerate . Then someone else follows suit , but either you miss it or you let it slide . Then people pile on — repeating what they’ve seen because no one stepped in to course correct . Then it’s too late . It’s become the culture . The new normal .

Bad Habits Beat Good Intentions > Page 148 · Location 1083

What we do repeatedly hardens into habits . The longer you carry on , the tougher it is to change . All your best intentions about doing the right thing “ later ” are no match for the power of habits .

Commitment, Not Consensus > Page 153 · Location 1137

“ I disagree , but let’s commit ”

Commitment, Not Consensus > Page 154 · Location 1145

What’s especially important in disagree - and - commit situations is that the final decision should be explained clearly to everyone involved . It’s not just decide and go , it’s decide , explain , and go .

Narrow as You Go > Page 157 · Location 1166

the work required to finish a project should be dwindling over time , not expanding . The deadline should be comfortably approaching , not scarily arriving . Remember : Deadlines , not dreadlines .

Narrow as You Go > Page 157 · Location 1168

When we spend six weeks on something , the first week or two is for clarifying unknowns and validating assumptions . This is the time when the concept needs to hit reality and either bounce if it’s sound or shatter if it’s not .

Mind Your Business

Launch and Learn > Page 197 · Location 1428

If you want to know the truth about what you’ve built , you have to ship it .

No Big Deal or the End of the World? > Page 214 · Location 1548

the choice between two tokens . When you deal with people who have trouble , you can either choose to take the token that says “ It’s no big deal ” or the token that says “ It’s the end of the world . ” Whichever token you pick , they’ll take the other .

No Big Deal or the End of the World? > Page 215 · Location 1557

Everyone wants to be heard and respected . It usually doesn’t cost much to do , either . And it doesn’t really matter all that much whether you ultimately think you’re right and they’re wrong . Arguing with heated feelings will just increase the burn .


Choose Calm > Page 223 · Location 1586

Are you going to continue to let people chip away at other people’s time ? Or are you going to choose to protect people’s time and attention ?

Choose Calm > Page 223 · Location 1590

Are you going to continue to expect people to respond immediately to everything ? Or are you going to choose contemplation and consideration prior to communication ?