Developer Book Club: Rework

25/03/2018 developerBookClub books

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is next up on my reading list. Recommended by another dev, it’s a collection of short one or two page chapters explaining a piece of advice. The main theme is changing the way you work with advice from the authors, the founders of basecamp.

Each of the small anecdotes/ pieces of advice is accompanied by a illustration some of which look like they could be up on the wall of development offices! As usual, by the time I was done, the book was full of wee post it notes for future reference!


Many of the sections aren’t relevant to me as they are related to running your own business but here are a few of my favourites:

Make a dent in the universe

That may sounds super cheesy but it’s good advice. It doesn’t need to be a world changing app or innovation you contribute but you should feel like you are making a difference to the world in some way. The way the book described it is “You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice”.

Go to sleep

This is the best advice. Ever.

So many times I have seen people working too late at work or university to get to a deadline, but then it happens at the next deadline and the next...and so on. It’s not a long term solution and makes you less productive. This chapter discusses the effects of this becoming a habit: Stubbornness, Lack of creativity, diminished morale and irritability.

Say No By Default

This chapter discusses the downsides of saying yes to new features, deadlines, etc and losing sight of the goals. It tells us “Start getting to the habit of saying no- even to many of your best ideas”. Use the power of no to get your priorities straight.

Years of Irrelevance

This chapter made me smile as I had been discussing this with a friend recently. What relevance does someone having 10 years experience in something have, it can give an indication of their time on the job but not how good or committed they are. I have also asked it heard before: 10 years experience, or the same 2 years experience 5 times?

“How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it”.

Your Estimates Suck

This one made me laugh as it’s something everyone struggles with, it’s arguably one of the hardest parts of a programmers job. It’s one of the toughest things to teach junior developers. I am quite happy the advice I give is that given in the book… so I must be doing something right, eh? “Break the big thing into smaller things. The smaller it is, the easier it is to estimate. You’re probably still going to get it wrong, but you’ll be a lot less wrong than if you estimated a big project”.

Four Letter Words

This chapter discusses the 4 letter words we should never use… not, not those ones, these: Need, Can’t, Easy. I have discussed in another post about “easy” and other language that can be used to cause harm even if unintentionally. Ensuring to use positive/ constructive language can make a big difference to a team.

Sound like you

As someone who is very aware of sounding different to most in my industry, I really liked this chapter. They mostly discuss it in terms of business and how they sound, treat customers like friends and don’t try and sound like a large corporate business when you aren’t. But I think this applies to individuals too. I spent too long trying to sound like a typical programmer or was too scared to speak up incase someone noticed I wasn’t one of them. Now I just try and sound like me in blogs, talks, emails etc. Am I the most professional sounding? No. But being yourself and authentic will come across better and also save wasting the energy of trying hard to be someone else.

These are just a few of the anecdotes and illustrations I liked but the book is full of advice and ideas for business owners or just regular employees like me. The format was great for me as someone who struggles to find time to read, you can pick up and ready just one or two pages and be at a suitable place to put the book down and pick up a week later! Would recommend!