Rework [But Not a Review]

Published by Prabin Poudel 9 min read
cover: Rework [But Not a Review]
Table of contents

One word after reading Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) and Jason Fried was “relatable”.

Authors have done a great job keeping complex terms simple so it is easier to understand and if you are in the position of management in the company then a lot of what is said in this book just “clicks”.

Chapter First

  • If you write a big plan, you’ll most likely never look at it anyway.


  • Workaholics try to make up for food intellectual laziness with brute force. This results in inelegant solutions.
  • Workaholics make the people who don’t stay late feel inadequate for “merely” working reasonable hours. That leads to guilt and poor morale all around.
  • Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because they figured out a faster way to get things done.

Scratch your own itch

  • The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something “you” want to use.

Start making something

  • We all have that one friend who says, “I had the idea of eBay. If only I had acted on it, I’d be a billionaire!” That logic is pathetic and delusional. Having the idea for eBay has nothing to do with actually creating eBay. What you do is what matters, not what you think or say our plan.

No time is no excuse

  • When you want something bad enough, you make the time - regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time.

    Don’t let yourself off the hook with the excuses. It’s entirely your responsibility to make your dreams come true.

  • The “perfect” time never arrives.

    You’re always too young or old or busy or broke or something else.

Start a business, not a startup

  • A business without a path to profit isn’t a business, it’s a hobby.

Building to flip is building to flop

  • “What’s your exit strategy?”

    You hear it when you’re just beginning.

    What is it with people who can’t even start building something without knowing how they’re going to leave it?

    Would you go into a relationship planning the breakup? Would you meet a divorce lawyer the morning of your wedding? That would be ridiculous, right?

Embrace constraints

  • “I don’t have enough time/money/people/experience.”

    Stop whining. Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room to waste. And that forces you to be creative.

Making the call is making progress

  • When you put off decisions, they pile up. And piles end up ignored, deal with in haste, or thrown out. As a result, the individual problems in those piles stay unresolved.

    Whenever you can, swap”Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it.” Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.

    You want to get into the rhythm of making choices. When you get in that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale. Decisions are progress.

  • When you postpone decisions in the hope that a perfect answer will come to you later. It won’t. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow.
  • It doesn’t matter how much you plan, you’ll still get some stuff wrong anyway. Don’t make things worse by overanalyzing and delaying before you even get going.

Tone in your fingers

  • It’s tempting for people to obsess over tools instead of what they’re going to do with those tools.

    Many amateur golfers think they need expensive clubs. But it’s the swing that matters, not the club. Give Tiger Woods a set of cheap clubs and he’ll still destroy you.

    You also see it in people who want to blog, podcast or shoot videos for their business but get hung up on which tools to use. The content is what matters. You can spend tons on fancy equipment, but if you’ve got nothing to say … well, you’ve got nothing to say.

Interruption is the enemy of productivity

  • When do you get most of your work done? If you’re like most people, it’s at night or early in the morning. It’s no coincidence that these are the times when nobody else is around.

    Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments. You can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.

Go to sleep

  • Forgoing sleep is a bad idea. Sure, you get those extra hours right now, but you pay in spades later: You destroy your creativity, morale, and attitude.

    Once in a while, you can pull an all-nighter if you fully understand the consequences. Just don’t make it a habit. If it becomes a constant, the costs start to mount.

    1. Stubbornness: When you’re really tired, it always seems easier to plow down whatever bad path you happen to be on instead of reconsidering the route. The finish line is a constant mirage and you wind up walking in the desert way to long.
    2. Lack of creativity: Creativity is one of the first things to go when you lose sleep. What distinguishes people who are teen times more effective than the norm is not that they work ten times as hard; it’s that they use their creativity to come up with solutions that require one-tenth of the effort. Workout sleep, you stop coming up with one-tenth solutions.
    3. Diminished morale: When your brain isn’t during on all cylinders, it loves to feed on less demanding tasks. Like reading yet another article about stuff that doesn’t matter. When you’re tired, you lose motivation to attack the big problems.
    4. Irritability: Your ability to remain patient and tolerant is severely reduced when you’re tired. If you encounter someone reduced when you’re tired. If you encounter someone who’s acting like a fool, there’s a good chance that person is suffering from sleep deprivation.

    These are just some of the costs you incur when not getting sleep. Yet some people still develop a masochistic sense of honor about sleep deprivation. They even about how tired they are. Don’t be impressed. It’ll come back to bite them in the ass.

Long lists don’t get done

  • Start making smaller to-do lists. Long lists collect dust. When’s the last time you finished a long list of things? You might have knocked off the first few, but chances are you eventually abandoned it.

    Long lists are guilt trips. The longer the list of unfinished items, the worse you feel about it. And at a certain point, you just stop looking at it because it makes you feel bad. Then you stress out and the whole thing turns into a big mess.

    Better way is to break down long list down into a bunch of smaller lists. For example, break a single list of a hundred items into ten lists of ten items. That means when you finish an item on a list, you’ve completed 10 percent of that list, instead of 1 percent.

    Yes, you still have the same amount of stuff left to do. But now you can look at the small picture and find satisfaction, motivation and progress.

    And a quick suggestion about prioritization: Don’t prioritize with numbers or labels. Instead, prioritize visually. Put the most important things at the top. When you’re done with that, the next things on the list becomes the next most important thing. That way you’ll only have a single next most important thing to do at a time.

Don’t copy

  • Be influenced, but don’t steal.
  • The problem of blindly copying is it skips understanding - and understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is the way it is. When you just copy and paste, you miss that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath.

Who cares what they’re doing?

  • What’s the point of worrying about things you can’t control?

Let your customers outgrow you

  • People and situations change. You can’t be everything to everyone.

Build an audience

  • All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have audiences. An audience can be your secret weapon.

    When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention - they give it to you. This it’s a huge advantage.

    So build an audience. Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos - whatever. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience. Then when you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening.

Emulate chefs

  • You’ve probably heard of Emeril Lagassel, Mario Batali and Paula Deen. They’re great chefs, but there are a lot of great chefs out there. So why do you know these few better than others? Because they share everything they know. They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows.

    So emulate famous chefs. They cook, so they write cookbooks. What do you do? What are you “recipes”? What’s your “cookbook”? What can tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional?

Nobody like plastic flowers

  • Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real. It’s why we like real flowers that wilt, not perfect plastic ones that never change. Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to act. Show the world what you’re really like, ways and all.
  • When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul. It seems robotic.

Drug dealers get it right

  • Drug dealers are astute business people. They know their product is so good they’re willing to give a little away for free upfront. They know you’ll be back for more - with money.

    Emulate drug dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive, so “can’t miss” that giving customers a small free tests makes them come back with cash in hand.

You don’t create a culture

  • You don’t create a culture. It happens.

    This is why new companies don’t have a culture. Culture is the byproduct of consistent behavior.

    If you encourage people to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust, then trust will be built in.

    Culture is not policy. Culture is action, not words.

Decisions are temporary

  • “But what if…,?” “What happens when …?” “Don’t we need plan for …?”

    Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet. It’s not a problem until it’s a real problem. Most of the things you worry about never happen anyway.

They’re not 13

  • When you test people like children, you get children’s work. Yet that’s exactly how a lot of companies and managers test their employees. Employees need to ask permission before they can do anything.

    When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of non thinkers. You create a boss-versus-worker relationship that screams, “I don’t trust you.”

Send people home at 5

  • You don’t need more hours, you need “better” hours
  • When people have something to do at home, they get down to business. They get their work done at the office because they have somewhere else to be. They find ways to be more efficient because they have to. They need to pick up their kids or get to choir practice. So they use their time wisely.
  • “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.” You want busy people. People who have a life outside of work. People who cares about more than one thing. You shouldn’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life - at least not if you want to keep them around for a long time.

Don’t scar on the first cut

  • The second something goes wrong, the natural tendency is to create a policy. “Someone’s wearing shorts? We need a dress code!” No, you don’t. You just need to tell John not to wear shorts again.

    Don’t create a policy because one person did something wrong once. Policies are only meant for situations that comes up over and over again.


Hope you learnt something valuable from this extract. Thank you for reading.

Image Credits: Cover Image by Robert Anasch from Unsplash