Book Review: Rework

Woman at Cafe reading in the Sunlight

Sometimes, the thing we need the most is a total shake-up. Letting go of the ideas, the patterns, the rote repetition of our daily lives can be the key to creating inspiration, excitement, and a million new ideas. But how do we bust through the chains of our habits and find new pathways for work, play, and innovation?

At the recommendation of many friends, I requested Rework from the library. Written by the people who created BaseCamp and the Ruby on Rails framework, Rework is a collection of short essays on shaking up your work world — and your life.

Broken into segments like “Progress,” “Productivity,” “Evolution,” “Damage Control,” and “Culture” (among many), these short essays — typically a page or less — covers topics as diverse as workaholism, making a change in the world, the damage of lists and meetings, embracing constraint, and why you should quit sometimes. It’s a fast and smooth read (took me a day or two total), and yet I recommend reading it in short bursts. Here’s why:

Reading this book will change your entire work — and personal — life.

My life has been a whirlwind these past few months, and oddly enough this life-changing book turned my tailspin into a calculated descent into a soft landing. From losing my own North Star and then losing my map and compass, I found snippets of wisdom to identify landmarks that have brought me creativity and a path forward I was certain I had lost.

Some of my favorite essays include:

  • Be a curator: stick to the essentials and pare everything else down.
  • Interruptions are the enemy of productivity.
  • Meetings are toxic: they are the worst interruptions possible.
  • Decommoditize your product: make your product something no one else can offer by infusing YOU into every aspect.
  • Everything is marketing: every phone call, every email, every use of your product is marketing.
  • Pass on hiring people you don’t need (and conversely: don’t take a job that isn’t both meaningful and full of work — take the work that is real and great.)

Rework isn’t just about what to do and not do when building a business, developing a product, and creating a team.

It’s about boosting your creativity, developing habits (that feel counter-intuitive to the “big business” ways of thinking) for productivity, and overcoming obstacles (imposed by ourselves and the establishment) to become our best and most influential selves.

Not only this, but Rework is great for building team collaboration and accountability. Try sending out an essay a week to your team and implementing it. Remember: meetings are the ultimate productivity killer. Give people information in a non-interrupting way (like email) and let them respond in their own time, when they are out of the “alone-zone” and have a chance to put these simple and incredible ideas to work.

What’s one idea you have for reducing interruptions, under-doing the competition, and giving yourself or your team a productivity boost?

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