It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

There are two primary reasons: (1) The workday is being sliced into tiny, fleeting work moments by an onslaught of physical and virtual distractions. And (2) an unhealthy obsession with growth at any cost sets towering, unrealistic expectations that stress people out. (Location 125)

Tags: interruptions

Note: There are too many distractions at work

But the thing is, there’s not more work to be done all of a sudden. The problem is that there’s hardly any uninterrupted, dedicated time to do (Location 134)

Tags: interruptions

Note: .interruptions

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. (Location 199)

Tags: product, work

Note: .work you can change the way you work

We come in peace. We don’t have imperial ambitions. We aren’t trying to dominate an industry or a market. We wish everyone well. To get ours, we don’t need to take theirs. (Location 257)

Note: Business is not war

Mark Twain nailed it: “Comparison is the death of joy.” We’re with Mark. (Location 269)

Tags: happiness

Note: .happiness

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. (Location 344)

Tags: analogy

Note: Frequent small changes are better than infrequent large movements

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. (Location 391)

Companies love to protect. They protect their brand with trademarks and lawsuits. They protect their data and trade secrets with rules, policies, and NDAs. They protect their money with budgets, CFOs, and investments. They guard so many things, but all too often they fail to protect what’s both most vulnerable and most precious: their employees’ time and attention. Companies spend their employees’ time and attention as if there were an infinite supply of both. As if they cost nothing. Yet employees’ time and attention are among the scarcest resources we have. (Location 396)

Tags: time management

Note: Companies do not protect their employees time

You can’t outwork the whole world. There’s always going to be someone somewhere willing to work as hard as you. Someone just as hungry. Or hungrier. (Location 452)

Tags: work

So we borrowed an idea from academia: office hours. All subject-matter experts at Basecamp now publish office hours. For some that means an open afternoon every Tuesday. For others it might be one hour a day. It’s up to each expert to decide their availability. (Location 503)

Tags: favorite

Note: Experts have office hours - ask them questions during this time

“But how do you know if someone’s working if you can’t see them?” Same answer as this question: “How do you know if someone’s working if you can see them?” You don’t. The only way to know if work is getting done is by looking at the actual work. That’s the boss’s job. If they can’t do that job, they should find another one. (Location 543)

So take a step toward calm, and relieve people from needing to broadcast their whereabouts and status. Everyone’s status should be implicit: I’m trying to do my job, please respect my time and attention. (Location 556)

At Basecamp, we’ve tried to create a culture of eventual response rather than immediate response. One where everyone doesn’t lose their shit if the answer to a nonurgent question arrives three hours later. One where we not only accept but strongly encourage people not to check email, or chat, or instant message for long stretches of uninterrupted time. (Location 573)

Fuck that. People should be missing out! Most people should miss out on most things most of the time. That’s what we try to encourage at Basecamp. JOMO! The joy of missing out. (Location 587)

Tags: favorite

Note: The joy of missing out!

Because there’s absolutely no reason everyone needs to attempt to know everything that’s going on at our company. And especially not in real time! If it’s important, you’ll find out. And most of it isn’t. Most of the day-to-day work inside a company’s walls is mundane. And that’s a beautiful thing. It’s work, it’s not news. We must all stop treating every little fucking thing that happens at work like it’s on a breaking-news ticker. (Location 592)

Note: Everybody doesnt need to know everything that is going on, especially in real time

One way we push back against this at Basecamp is by writing monthly “Heartbeats.” Summaries of the work and progress that’s been done and had by a team, written by the team lead, to the entire company. All the minutiae boiled down to the essential points others would care to know. Just enough to keep someone in the loop without having to internalize dozens of details that don’t matter. (Location 595)

Tags: communication, team

Note: Monthly heartbeats

Focus on your work at hand. That’s all we ask. That’s all we require. If there’s anything you must know, we promise you’ll hear about it. If you’re curious, cool—follow whatever you want—but we want people to feel the oblivious joy of focus rather than the frantic, manic fear of missing something that didn’t matter anyway. (Location 600)

Tags: newsletter

Note: .newsletter

Tobias Lütke, CEO at Shopify, coined the term. Here’s how he explained it in a New York Times interview: “Another concept we talk a lot about is something called a ‘trust battery.’ It’s charged at 50 percent when people are first hired. And then every time you work with someone at the company, the trust battery between the two of you is either charged or discharged, based on things like whether you deliver on what you promise.” (Location 648)

Tags: favorite, newsletter, trust

A low trust battery is at the core of many personal disputes at work. It powers stressful encounters and anxious moments. When the battery is drained, everything is wrong, everything is judged harshly. A 10 percent charge equals a 90 percent chance an interaction will go south. (Location 659)

Tags: trust

The fact is that the higher you go in an organization, the less you’ll know what it’s really like. It might seem perverse, but the CEO is usually the last to know. With great power comes great ignorance. (Location 681)

Tags: ceo

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. (Location 708)

Tags: work

Note: The further away you are from the fruit the lower it appears to hang

So the next time you ask an employee to go pick some low-hanging fruit—stop yourself. Respect the work that you’ve never done before. Remind yourself that other people’s jobs aren’t so simple. Results rarely come without effort. 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. (Location 726)

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. (Location 770)

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.” (Location 1037)

Tags: chat

Note: .chat

Another way to think about our deadlines is that they’re based on budgets, not estimates. We’re not fans of estimates because, let’s face it, humans suck at estimating. But it turns out that people are quite good at setting and spending budgets. If we tell a team that they have six weeks to build a great calendar feature in Basecamp, they’re much more likely to produce lovely work than if we ask them how long it’ll take to build this specific calendar feature, and then break their weekends and backs to make it so. (Location 1066)

Tags: estimate

A deadline with a flexible scope invites pushback, compromises, and tradeoffs—all ingredients in healthy, calm projects. It’s when you try to fix both scope and time that you have a recipe for dread, overwork, and exhaustion. (Location 1070)

Tags: product development, deadline

Note: Have a dealine with flexible scope

We’ve been practicing disagree and commit since the beginning, but it took Bezos’s letter to name the practice. Now we even use that exact term in our discussions. “I disagree, but let’s commit” is something you’ll hear at Basecamp after heated debates about specific products or strategy decisions. (Location 1195)

Tags: disagreement

Note: disagree and commit

Last thing: 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. (Location 1204)

Tags: disagreement

You just can’t bring your A game to every situation. Knowing when to embrace Good Enough is what gives you the opportunity to be truly excellent when you need to be. We’re not suggesting you put shit work out there. You need to be able to be proud of it, even if it’s only “okay.” But attempting to be indiscriminately great at everything is a foolish waste of energy. (Location 1209)

Tags: focus

Note: Know when to embrace good enough

Think of it this way. If you do one thing at 100 percent, you’ve spent 100 percent to get that one thing. If you spend 20 percent each on getting five things to 80 percent, well, then, you’ve done five things! We’ll almost always take that trade. (Location 1216)

Tags: favorite

After the initial dust settles, 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. (Location 1225)

Once the initial exploration is over, every week should lead us closer to being done, not further from it. Commit to an idea. See it through. Make it happen. You can always go back later, but only if you actually finish. Week four of a six-week project should be about finishing things up and ramping things down, not coming up with big new ideas. It’s not that new approaches or ideas are bad, but their timing may well be. Always keeping the door open to radical changes only invites chaos and second-guessing. Confidently close that door. Accept that better ideas aren’t necessarily better if they arrive after the train has left the station. If they’re so good, they can catch the next one. (Location 1235)

There are many reasons to be skeptical of best practices, but one of the most common is when you see someone deriving them purely from outside observations about how another company does it: “Top 10 best practices for how Apple develops products.” Has that person worked on a product development team at Apple? No. They’re simply coming to their own conclusions based on their own assumptions about how they think things work. Unless you’ve actually done the work, you’re in no position to encode it as a best practice. (Location 1301)

Tags: best practices

Note: Be skeptical of best practice reviews from outside the company. Unless you’ve been involved in the process it’s hard to understand what has worked well

Saying no is the only way to claw back time. Don’t shuffle 12 things so that you can do them in a different order, don’t set timers to move on from this or that. Eliminate 7 of the 12 things, and you’ll have time left for the 5. It’s not time management, it’s obligation elimination. Everything else is snake oil. (Location 1343)

Tags: no

Note: Its not time management,its obligation management

Just like work expands to fill the time available, work expands to fill the team available. Small, short projects quickly become big, long projects when too many people are there to work on them.

You can do big things with small teams, but it’s a whole hell of a lot harder to do small things with big teams. And small things are often all that’s necessary. The occasional big thing is great, but most improvements come as small incremental steps. Big teams can step right over those small moves. (Location 1373)

Tags: work, work expands

Note: Keep teams small.

Besides, the next morning (or week) has a way of telling the truth. It’s good to sleep on something. You might well wake up the next day to see what was the world’s best idea yesterday doesn’t seem quite as important now. Taking a breather gives you perspective. (Location 1393)

Tags: idea generation

Note: Dont abandon your current work to jump on the latest idea

No is easier to do, yes is easier to say. (Location 1398)

Tags: no

Because crazy’s in the red. Calm’s in the black. (Location 1451)

You’ll often hear that people don’t like change, but that’s not quite right. People have no problem with change they asked for. What people don’t like is forced change—change they didn’t request on a timeline they didn’t choose. Your “new and improved” can easily become their “what the fuck?” when it is dumped on them as a surprise. (Location 1565)

Tags: change

Note: people dont like change they didnt ask for. Get people onside and wanted to change before introducing a change

It’s taken us a long time and a number of missteps to learn this core truth about selling: Sell new customers on the new thing and let old customers keep whatever they already have. This is the way to keep the peace and maintain the calm. (Location 1577)

Tags: selling

Note: Sell new customers on the new thing

It’s not free to honor old agreements or maintain old products. That’s the price of having a legacy. That’s the price of being successful enough that you have customers who liked you before you made your most recent thing. You should celebrate that! Be proud of your heritage. (Location 1588)

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. (Location 1617)

Note: Dealing with others, two tokens. No big deal and end of the world