If Seth Godin tells you to read something, you better freaking read it.

I’m on a plane back from LA, enjoying the peace and quiet of a non-wireless flight with no distractions. I’m re-reading the book REWORK, on my to-read list for 2011, and highlighting the best parts.

I’m trying desperately to ignore the sumptuous McDonald’s bag being consumed next to me (tiny little airplane seats!), or the blare of the noise from the headphones from all the people around me blankly watching movies.

When did I get so old to think that reading, writing, thinking, and moving were such wonderful inventions?

I suppose we do live in a world of zombies.

I digress. I’m on a plane. I’m scratching this out, pen-and-paper style, on my ever-present notebook.

REWORK, written by the guys behind 37 Signals, is an unconventional book about business and about getting things done.

It’s refreshing. For everyone who thought that the ways we work are inefficient, who has questioned the value of meetings or debated the validity of staying late simply for staying late, REWORK tells the story of other, better ways to make fantastic things happen.

Written in an engaging, quick, and grabbing way (no chapter is longer than a handful of pages; each idea is accompanied by a great illustrative), REWORK can be skimmed, it can be pulled apart, and you can read it starting from any place in the book. You’ll want to read the whole thing, but it won’t take long.


Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s  mission statement is simple:

“We’re an intentionally small company that makes software to help small companies and groups get things done the easy way.”

I have a confession to make. I LOVE their products. I’m a fan of basecamp (use it to freelance as a project management software and I’ve recently integrated it into daily use in my career job) and the other platforms – backpack, an internet knowledge-sharing tool, and Campfire, a business chat tool.  Best part? They are open-source (just like wordpress, the platform I use to run this blog) – in their invention of the computer programming framework Ruby on Rails.

Alright, I’ll stop geeking out on you (but I LOVE geeking out. I like knowing how things work. … and am always uber-impressed by the people who make the magic of the internet happen: you are ALL my HEROES.)

Let’s get to the good stuff: my favorite bits and important notes from the book:

1. “The truth is, you need less than you think.” If you’re waiting for the right set-up, more money, or more time, then you’re making excuses. You can probably make it happen with what you have right now. RIGHT NOW. (If you can’t figure out what you need to get started or what’s holding you back, you’ll have a hard time making it)

2. “Less is a good thing.” Embrace constraints. People make excuses all the time – their response is simple:  “constraints are advantages in disguise. It forces you to be creative.”

3. “You’re better off ignoring the competition.” Just make a good product. Worry less about comparing yourselves to others or spending too much time running analyses. Just make a good product.

4. “You don’t need to be a workaholic.” Workaholism is stupid. Work less, do more. Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.” CHEERS to that!

5. “All you need is an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.” Instead of calling them entrepreneurs, REWORK calls people who put ideas to action “STARTERS.” There are thousands of people making profits and doing what they love, on their own terms, and getting paid for it.  They created businesses. All it took was just getting started. (I love this idea – absolutely love it – eee! more on that coming soon!)

6. “What you really need to do is stop talking and start doing.”

7. “Make a dent in the universe.” “Great work comes from making a difference, and feeling as though you are making people’s lives better. When you find what you’re meant to do with your life, you do it.”

“You should feel an urgency about this, they write. “You don’t have forever. This is your life’s work.”

8. “Ideas are plentiful and cheap.” Having an idea means nothing. Ít’s what you do that matters, not what you think or plan. MAKE SOMETHING. Just start creating.

9. “Have a point of view.” You can’t possibly agree with everyone. That makes you boring – and uninteresting. Have a point of view. Be particular about how you think things should work.

10. “Cut your ambition in half.” This seems counterintuitive at first. But the point is true: “You’re better off with a kick-ass half than a half-assed whole.” Lots of things get better as they get shorter. That’s why the book was cut in half. Cut out the stuff that’s merely good.

“You probably have stuff you COULD do, stuff you WANT to do, and stuff you HAVE to do. Start with what you HAVE to do.”

The world needs curators and editors.

11. Get real.Test a prototype right away. Do it. Don’t make a proposal out of it, don’t sell an idea, don’t write a memo. Do the thing you’re going to do.”

12. “Interruption is not collaboration, it’s just interruption.”And when you’re interrupted, you’re not getting work done.”

13. “Long stretches of time alone are when you are the most productive.” “Ever notice how much work you get done on a plane since you’re offline and there are zero outside distractions?” Funny I should re-read this sentence now. I’m on a plane.

This is a GREAT book. It captures the essences of productivity and time management and tells you to get off your butt, beat the status quo, focus on ONE THING, and test it work on it like crazy.


Highly recommended reading.

As Seth Godin says, “Ignore this book at your own peril.”