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Rework Lessons

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So we were supposed to publish the first part of our series on Sex and Motivation today in time for Valentine’s Day. Yes, we missed a deadline =)

After asking some friends in person and on Twitter if they had any questions about sex and motivation, we discovered that the rabbit hole goes way, waaaaaaay deeper than we initially thought. The simple reason? No one really talks about sex, and how it impacts your motivation levels and productivity. Or your performance in the office, or in life in general. So while I get back to reading studies on dopamine, pornography and the g-spot, here are some thoughts on Rework, the latest business book I’ve read.

I recently finished 37 Signals’ phenomenal book, Rework.

For those of you unfamiliar with the company, they produce the ever-popular SaaS project management system Basecamp and other nifty online tools. They also have a great corporate blog. Their take on how business works in the current day and age is that most of the traditional rules are just plain wrong – that real work doesn’t get done in a corporate office, and that mobile and more agile teams (and individuals) get far more done productively.

The book itself is extremely straightforward and presents everything in bite-sized and mostly implementable chunks. The way I read it (and most business books) is I’ll read the ideas, visualize it, see if I’m applying it already in my life and business, and if not see what the difference is and note that down to implement.

Here are some of the points I thought would be of interest to AE readers:

  • Planning is Guessing. What this means is you do the most important task you have first, both at a time-based level (i.e., frog eating), and when deciding what to focus on from your goals and objectives.
  • Throwing more hours at something doesn’t fix it. This is very true. Often taking a break re-energizes you. But it also means that you want to be doing things as efficiently as possible, as long as you are also being effective.
  • Start making something. This simply means that you should take action now.
  • No time is no excuse. This was discussed in a prior newsletter. Basically, there are no excuses in life – barring some great physical force stopping you from doing something, the only thing stopping you is you. In the context of starting a business, they mention that you can cut out TV and other entertainment. It’s a great suggestion, but be sure to plan in downtime and recovery too – they’re super-important. In fact, keep your eyes open for an article on just that sometime soon.
  • Mass slows you down. Things like debt, dependencies and other potential sources of friction slow you down. You want to manage or remove these things. I have a personal rule: if something annoys me more than 3 times, I’ll go out of my way to find a permanent solution to it. Exhibit A:
    The Asian Efficiency Jug Management System

    The Asian Efficiency Jug Management System

    Post-it + 2 strips of packing tape = permanent solution to my roommate never refilling the Brita filter after using it.

  • Half a product, not a half-assed product. At a personal micro-level, this means don’t multitask. Focus on one thing at a time and do it well. At a macro-level, it means limit the number of goals you’re pursuing – see the Rule of 3.
  • Start at the epicenter. Basically, cut away all extraneous things and set constraints on yourself. Ask the hard, limiting questions to help you focus.
  • 10-40 hour weeks are more than enough. Thanh and I agree. It should be noted that this is not the standard 40-hours-in-the-office week most people think about. This is the hardcore, focussed, balls-to-the-wall 40-hour week minus the 20-minute coffee breaks, morning gossip and meetings. Not for the faint of heart.
  • Interruptions are fatal. Dan Kennedy calls people who cause them, time vampires. Earphones work well if there are people around and you’re trying to work.
  • Quick Wins. See the Rule of 3. This doesn’t mean you don’t do more than 3 things in a day, it means you start with 3, get them done fast, gain momentum and keep going.
  • Sleep is important.
  • Long lists don’t get done. This is why we showed you how to set up OmniFocus properly.
  • Learn to say no.
  • The Myth of the Overnight Sensation. Most results in life come from grind and putting in the hours.
  • Managers of One. You are probably already a manager of one. The people around you should be too, if you want your life to skyrocket. How do you build a killer mastermind/company/team/social circle? Do what Eisenhower did for D-Day: find 12 men/women you trust. Then ask each of them to do the same.
  • The last point in the book is about Inspiration. Most people probably skip over it, but it’s this: inspiration is perishable. Momentum is all-important, and when you’re inspired you get amazing amounts done. When you’re inspired, that’s the time to pull an all-nighter or cancel your weekend.

You can get a copy of Rework here.

If you have your own lessons from Rework that you’d like to share, or want anything clarified, share away in the comments!

Also, if you have anything you’d like to see covered (or any tough questions answered) in our upcoming series on Sex, Motivation and Productivity, leave a comment or send us a message on Twitter.

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1 Comment

Posted by Jeroen  | February 17, 2012 at 4:42PM | Reply

Wow, awesome book. I’ve started reading it and can’t stop, very inspiring! 

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