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Book review: Rework

ReworkRework by Jason Fried

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book by the founders of 37Signals is packed with advice about productivity, competition, marketing, and maintaining a work/life balance. It's short and easily digestible; each chapter starts with an eye-catching illustration followed by just 1 or 2 concise pages. It's mostly aimed at startups, but the tips apply to people in any size business.

The authors are huge proponents of simplicity. They suggest keeping everything as simple as possible: products, services, business administration, etc. They advise against planning unnecessarily, and recommend figuring things out as you go.

A recurring theme throughout the book is that you need to set aside time to work without interruptions. Workdays are fragmented by instant messages, phone calls, email, and meetings, destroying productivity. The only way to get things done is to get into the "alone zone" for about half of every day.

Another point is to be yourself; be genuine and conversational. You'll attract better business partners, employees, and customers.

I especially liked the productivity tips aimed to prevent workaholism; the authors want you to work smarter, not harder. I noted a few of their tips in my notes below. This book is a well-organized, thought-provoking read that I recommend to entrepreneurs, business owners, and employees.

Plan for the week, not a year or longer; that's just guessing.
It's OK to stay a small business; large companies envy small businesses for their agility.
Solve your own problems rather than searching for others'. You'll be more aware of the issues and more passionate about solving them.

A kick-ass half is better than a half-assed whole. Do fewer things, and do them great.
Provide products and services that meet timeless desires, not trends and fashions.

Get into the "alone zone" to get things done without interruptions.
Never hold meetings unless they're truly necessary.
Good enough is fine; perfectionism prevents progress.
Get enough sleep so you maintain creativity.
Break estimates, to-do lists, projects, and decisions down into tiny pieces.

Say no by default to features, rushed deadlines, demanding customers.
Let customers outgrow you; there's an endless supply of small, basic customers.

Rather than advertising, teach and share info to get people's attention.
Emulate drug dealers: give away a little for free to get customers hooked.
Start small and build slowly.

Never hire anyone to do a job until you've tried it yourself and understand the work.
Hire when it hurts; wait until you're suffering before hiring.

When people complain about changes, give them time to adjust before backpedaling.
Encourage employees to have a life outside of work; they'll work more efficiently to leave work on time.
Ideas are immortal, but inspiration lasts a short time. When you're inspired, seize the moment to be productive.

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