Here’s your chance to know the top 5 lessons from the revolutionary book, REWORK, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. When I noticed REWORK hopping from desk to desk at the office, I didn’t think too much of it. Nor did I think too much of it’s ambiguous, yet plainly obvious title. I overheard our front end developer call it the ‘art of stating of the obvious’, while another urged I give it read.

As it turns out, REWORK is perfect tube-reading-material, separated into digestible chunks of micro-essays and mini-theses perfect for the on-the-go generation. Jason Fried, Co-Founder of tech giant Basecamp and his Master Programmer David Heinemeier Hansson, clearly have experience in the market.

While it may be a little Captain-obvious, this book does achieve its goal in re-working stagnated, out-dated concepts of work and business, holding more than a few useful snippets of advice. It has 90 whole segments of bull-shit-proof instruction. To save you scouring through all 90, I’ve whittled down REWORK’s top 5 tips for the budding entrepreneur.

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1) Long lists don’t get done

Now this may be a sweeping generalisation that happily skips the robot-efficient among us, but for the easily overwhelmed, it’s a gem. As the book tell us, ‘long lists are guilt trips’, designed to trap us in a cycle of feeling bad about our unfinished lists and then altogether giving up on the tasks. If you thrive with a huge list of tasks set before you, so be it, but for many, the art of compartmentalisation is key. The easy solution? Make smaller lists. At the end of the day, it’s always going to be better for the busy entrepreneurial brain to look at a mini-list that is 90% ticked off, than a mammoth-list that hasn’t seen even 5% completion. And by the very same logic, be sure to divide big problems up into smaller pieces until you can cope with getting them done.

2) Go to Sleep

Forgoing sleep? Bad idea. In REWORK’S wide-awake eyes, sleep deprivation ‘destroys your creativity, morale and attitude’, which I’m sure we’ve all had experience with at some point or other. It also makes you stubborn – a trait that can swing in both positive and negative directions when it comes to entrepreneurship. See, when you’re stubborn, you’re more likely to ‘plough down whatever bad path you happen to be on instead of reconsidering the route’. Creative flexibility depends on someone with a clear, accepting mind. Crucially, REWORK expresses disdain for sleepless heroes; those who develop a ‘masochistic sense of honour’ by boasting about their lack of sleep in praise of their own super, hyper-charged work ethic. The book says ‘Don’t be impressed. ‘It’ll come back to bite them in the ass.’

3) Send people home at 5

Another tip can be taken from the way in which REWORK eschews flagrant workaholics; it advises you to send your employees home at 5. Though clearly directed more toward the established company owner, it is certainly aspirational advice for the entrepreneur. One day you might be in charge of lots of people and it’s important to know how to get the best out of them. The book says a team of ‘burn-the-midnight-oil types’ are more a hinderance than a positive, as it creates a dangerous breeding ground for over-worked, careless mistakes. It’s not that you need more hours, you need better hours. People who have somewhere they need to be, a life outside of work, will do better and more with the hours they have at work and use their time wisely.

4) Less mass

Embrace your tininess, says REWORK: ‘Right now, you’re the smallest, the leanest and the fastest you’ll ever be.’ It might feel nice to have the money to expand your workforce, however, unnecessarily inflating your work-force only means harder work later down the line making changes. Huge organizations, they note, can take years to pivot, while small companies are infinitely more flexible. As REWORK mentions later on in the book – small, intimate house parties make for heated discussions and interesting conversation while  big cocktail parties full of strangers makes for small-talk. The motto? Attempt to get big while remaining small, rather than remaining small and getting big beyond your needs.

5) Scratch your own itch

Who invented the tin-opener? Probably a guy who couldn’t get into a tin can, right? Who invented the bagless vacuum cleaner? Clearly someone who didn’t like the constantly blocked-up vacuum cleaner they were using – a true fact for vacuum cleaner entrepreneur James Dyson. Just like the book says, ‘if you’re solving someone else’s problem, you’re constantly stabbing in the dark’. When you solve your own problem, the light comes on.’ At the end of the day, what is a service without anyone crying out to use it? Even better, a service or product that people never knew they needed, until they discovered yours. You can make your entrepreneurial creation, whatever it may be, vital to other people, but first make it vital to yourself.

Not convinced yet? Look who’s on the same wavelength:

“If given a choice between investing in someone who has read REWORK or has an MBA, I’m investing in REWORK every time. A must read for every entrepreneur.” – Mark Cuban, co-founder HDNet, owner of the Dallas Mavericks
“There’s no jargon or filler here — just hundreds of brilliantly simple rules for success. REWORK is required reading for anyone tired of business platitudes.” – Chris Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of THE LONG TAIL

About The Author

Hannah Ralph

Hannah moved to the big city with entrepreneurial dreams of becoming an East London Hipster. With help from her angel investors (thrift shop owners), some good start-up tech (an ice-latte picture blog) and a good eye for the target market (courtesy of some tortoise shell glasses), she's ready to go. Most likely to be found researching travel pieces for the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Hannah's biggest motivation is to forge her own story of success and reminisce on the good times from her private beach hut in the Caribbean... it's a work in progress.

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