Jason & David run the company behind basecamp.com and their next book is about running a calm company, about the challenges people making software these days face, both when it comes to workload and when it comes to communication in this always-on real-time world we live in today
The book covers, from my reading of it, 3 main topics:
- Workload, deadlines, overtime, keeping your employees sane
- Goals, targets, expectations, be it in teams or in the business in general
- Distractions and communication, not getting anything done and real time communication.
The part that spoke to me the most, because of what my job entails at the moment and my position in the company, is the latter: distractions and not getting anything done.
We must all stop treating every little fucking thing that happens at work like it’s on a breaking-news ticker.
In my day-to-day job, I work at a web-agency. We have a large open plan office space that we share with 30 people. There's plenty of room for all of us, each team can sit together and it's really easy to pop over to someone and ask a question when you need something.
But that's just the thing. It's really easy to pop over to someone and ask a question when you need something. Enter a world of distractions. Add Slack into that mix and there are now at least 5 or 6 external factors trying to distract you.
The chapter on realtime communication and how destructive that is to our productivity really struck something with me. We, just like just about everyone reading this, use some form of chat at work and every so often I’ll get agitated with a coworker for not reading or answering one of my messages. But the question I asked is hardly ever urgent enough to warrant my coworker dropping everything and answering me, and neither is it worth getting worked up over. Realtime chat can give us the sense that everything is important, that we can’t miss anything and that we should be always on.
If any of this sounds familiar, you should probably get this book.
This chapter is only 3 pages long but I found myself nodding along with every word of it. Working on multiple projects along side each other means lots of context switching. Another box checked.
Ask yourself: when was the last time you had three or even four completely uninterrupted hours to yourself and your work?
During the heatwave this summer, some of us started the day an hour earlier to try and beat the heat. That one hour extra with hardly anyone at the office was great. Less distractions and the earlier time of day works really well for me personally. In a similar vein I'll often wait to tackle an issue until I get home in the evening because then it's just easier to get things done. Uninterrupted time is worth every second in gold. This is sounding familiar again right?
People aren’t working longer and later because there’s more work to do all of a sudden. People are working longer and later because they can’t get work done at work anymore.
I could add a bunch more quotes but I hope I made my point: you should read this book :). I got it on iBooks but I kind of wish I got a physical copy so I'd it to give to people. I might just order it on paper again anyway, it's that good.
If you've read the book, feel free to share your thoughts on it in the comments!