Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

If you have a gnawing suspicion that work sucks, but aren’t quite sure what to do about it, this book is for you. In their recent book, Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson challenge conventional business wisdom and show a better way to make work more fulfilling and less frustrating.

Quite honestly, this is one of the best business books I have read this year. The authors give voice to many of my own thoughts and feelings about work. Moreover, they say it in a way that is direct, pithy, and often humorous. I swear I highlighted every other sentence. In short: This is the book I wish I had written.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.

The authors’ simple premise is that work does not have to be as complicated as we make it. We gunk it up with too much planning, too many meetings, and too much process and paperwork.

What we really need to do is to stop talking and start working.

The book is divided into ten sections. They cover almost every aspect of business from being more productive to ignoring your competition to creating a healthy culture. Each section is further divided into several short “posts” of about a page to a page-and-a-half.

Here’s a “baker’s dozen” to whet your appetite:

  • Learning from mistakes is over-rated
  • Scratch your own itch
  • No time is no excuse
  • You need less than you think
  • Launch now
  • Interruption is the enemy of productivity
  • Good enough is fine
  • Long lists don’t get done
  • Say no by default
  • Don’t write it down
  • Press releases are spam
  • Marketing is not a department
  • Send people home at 5

That barely scratches the surface.

Fried and Hansson are young but not inexperienced. They are the founders of 37Signals, the company that created the popular Basecamp online software for project management and collaboration. They have experienced first-hand the highs and lows that every leader goes through in trying to run a successful business.

As a book publisher, I was particularly interested in the way they wrote the book. In between the next-to-last and final drafts of the manuscript, they cut the book from 57,000 words 27,000 words (see p. 70). This took guts. It also reminded me that, from the readers perspective, brevity is a benefit. This is the pure stuff, uncut with the artificial fluff that fills so many books. I was happy to pay $22.00 for their distilled wisdom.

Note: I gave away 50 copies of the book, selecting the winners from the comments below. However, that opportunity is now over, and the comments have been closed.
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  • Jody Fransch

    Hi Michael

    Once again, you have recommended a gem. Don’t have a lot to say about the book except that I NEED it! I would really like to learn why I “must not write it down” and why I “really need less than I think” and why “good enough is fine”…

    Indeed you have definitely whetted my appetite and now I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and devour it’s contents. I know that I’ll learn a lot from it and I also promise to share what I learn with others.

    Thanks again for making this offer available!

  • Danny Wahlquist

    I have followed Jason for quite a while at 37Signals and can't wait to read Rework!

  • Sue McQuay

    Why I'd like a copy of this book? Work life has gotta be simpler than the piles of long books and long articles say. As an avid list writer, I'm most interested to read 'Long lists don’t get done' and 'Don’t write it down'; I'm prepared to have my ways of working challenged. Rework's 27,000 words would be slowly savoured to suck out all the marrow. Thanks Random House and Michael.

  • Thomas Sinfield

    I am super excited about this contest because just the other day my friend was raving about Rework and telling me that I 'must buy it'! So since then it has been on my list and have been itching to get it!

  • Phillip Gibb

    I can't be creative, work really does suck, I'll rather be doing my passion; filmmaking. The book will be an interesting read to see how I can do something about my current situation (work) and what I can do for my future situation (filmmaking) – to rework my life and make it more fulfilling while I make my way to my dreams.

  • B. Shelton

    After reading "The Anatomy of Peace" and "Leadership and Self-Deception", I am interested in a book that will finally tell me how to enjoy work and not just how to be a "leader". With work getting to the point sometimes that I spend more time talking about work and less time actually doing anything, this book looks like it really knows how things are.

    I am interested in reading it just so I can reaffirm many of my own thoughts and prove to myself that I am not crazy; many of the things on the list seem to be toned down examples of my own thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing this and either way, I hope I get a chance to read this book.

  • Joel

    I have already read this book so will not ask for a free copy. If you end up not getting a free copy, do yourself a favor and go buy it. it is a fast read, love the short chapters, and the best biz book I have read in a while

  • Geoff Webb

    I skimmed the book last week in the bookstore, loved what I saw, even snapped a picture of it in Evernote.

    I know in my gut that this approach is right, but honestly, I often lack the confidence to sell it to my boss and my clients, and sometimes even myself. I'm looking forward to reading and implementing their "distilled wisdom" in hopes of setting the people I work for and with FREE!

    Again, thanks for modeling generous leadership.

  • @nlongson

    Well, I would like to read this book. Rework is one of my favorite word I usually used in my discussion with project teams. I often emphasize risk management in order to avoid reworking. Therefore, I am interested in how Rework addresses this issue and what it means to project management

  • Geoff

    I’m a senior in college (getting my computer science degree), and I’d like to start my own business when I graduate. I’ve known of the 37signals guys for a while, and was always inspired by their accomplishments.

    Anyways, I would love to have this book!


    • Joe Tye

      Hi Geoff, go back and re-read the table of contents – you will see that one of them says "Start now." Why are you going to wait until you graduate? Why not start something now. The sooner you start learning, the less costly the lessons will be. My advice for getting started would be to join Mary Kay: that would teach you some great selling skills and push you so far out of your comfort zone that everything else from here on out would be a piece of cake :-)


  • Robert Sexton


    Most of the topics you highlighted within the Rework book are things I have tried to accomplish within my own work enviroment to no avail. Maybe having a copy of this book would go a long way towards showing others around here that there are better ways to exist in this business. Sometimes it takes seeing something in published form before anyone will listen. Here's hoping anyway.

    Please add my name to the list of those who would love a copy of the book.

  • @randyelster

    Some of the bullets you post seem on the surface to go against common wisdom and popoular authors both you and I have read: "Learning from mistakes is over-rated" (Seth Godin), "Long lists don't get done" (Davd Allen), etc. I am intrigued. And primed for new ways of looking at my work. My soul needs this book!

  • patlayton

    I want this book for my son.
    He is 31 years old and assuming the responsibilities of a ministry that I started over 20 years ago. I started with a check for 100. and a team of volunteers. He is taking on a $1,000,000 annual budget and over 20 employees. I didn't even use a computer, his team has access to him with their needs 24/7 via text message, however he must work on less than he needs in every single area.
    He is young, passionate and committed, but often feels overwhelmed and out of his league. I would love to see him capture the twelve lessons listed here to help advance his success and protect his sanity.
    Frankly, I want to win this book for him so that I can keep the one that I buy. Moms are like that.

  • Carl Tomakin

    We meet every Saturday morning to think about ways to rework "work" at each of our offices. There's fifteen of us and perhaps this book will give us an insight on some of the things we've missed. Maybe, just maybe we'll even make a youtube video out of it!

  • Larry Shallenberger

    I'd like a copy because it looks like my pastor role is about to completely change (without me leaving my church). I think this might be a case of the right book at the right time.

  • Lisa Burley

    I would love this book because it sounds like exactly what I need to create some change in my current situation. I love my job, and have been looking for ways to use time more effectively by cutting out unnecessary minutia. Even when things are good, they can always be better. Also, since I work in an academic library, I would be able to share the wisdom with thousands of others.

  • Joe Tye

    A good friend and client who is an NCAA basketball coach ends every email with the comment that "if you want what you've never had you must do what you've never done." You don't have to look very far – either to the daily newspaper or your own to-do list – to find things that aren't working. I am going to read the whole book, but just reading the table of contents I am going to redouble my personal commitment to not allow interruptions (most of which are self-imposed by my own ADD work habits). I am also going to adapt their "send everyone home at 5" principle: the people in my office are usually home by 5, but then sending emails at 10 (sometimes just to show the rest of us that they are working) – so I'm going to define "home by 5" as meaning with family or a good book.

  • R.Bhavesh

    Because I want it + save money!

    That's the style the rework would teach me. No reason to decorate my comment with nice, cajoling words :). Personally, I've been reading 37signals blog since long and really love the UI insights they share once in a while.

  • LNK

    I would like to read this book because of your recommendation. I have not taken the time to read a business-related book this year, and I'd like to start with this one.

  • Kenny Goza

    Always looking for ways to improve what i do. Been working for same company 36 years, but learn something new every day. This sounds like a great book, that identifies the realities of the workplace.

  • Carol

    Just watched the YouTube promo and when I was finished laughing, it hit me that I had just wrapped up participating in a meeting to plan the next meeting based on the power point slides used to create goals. I serve on many such committees/session and would love to bring some relevant clarity to the process of working. Should it even be a process? Meetings seem to be helpful but more and more seem to be about talking about work rather than working. Having a tool that points not just to what is wrong with this kind of culture, but also points in the positive direction of attainable and effective change would be a blessing.

  • Chris Crimmins

    I would love a copy of Rework to have and to hold. If it wasn't for the shared wisdom of great business leaders through writing, many of us readers would not be in the position we currently occupy. It is the constant learning, the eagerness to better that unites many of us. So this book would become part of my thought, part of my daily life.

  • Bethany Stephens

    I am exceptionally anxious to read this book! I began following Jason Fried in Inc. magazine's The Way I Work column, and love his nontraditional approach. I recently left an enjoyable and enviable job to take on a very fulfilling post in the nonprofit field (running a private, nonprofit field science education and conference facility that provides life-altering experiences for kids and affects their views on sustainability, conservation, careers and life – This has been an amazing move and I'm able to try some novel work concepts that are not generally accepted in the traditional business world. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

  • Chris Spradlin

    Michael, i am in! I have a non – profit that I am consulting that needs this book now…A married couple is running this together and if they dont re-work it is going to destroy their marriage. I would love to win 2 copies if at all for myself and one for them!

  • Benedict Seraphim

    Nearly every bullet point you summarize speaks directly to my situation. I started a customer service department for my organization from scratch a few years ago, and we are presently reorganizing and offshoring. I've got nearly nothing but planning meetings, project plans and presentations. It's not clear where I'll have the time to do the work being planned, projected and presented. This sounds like just the sort of book I need to shake up my world and get this thing done right and on time.

  • Chuck Musselwhite

    Heard a lot about this book. It sounds like exactly what I need in my situation of leading a growing church and staff. Thanks for the review

  • Mark

    I need the book! Mid-life crisis. nuff' said.

  • GregB

    I am interested in getting a copy of this book. I am regularly reflecting upon and refining my leadership style and how much more I can be effective in working with others. Sounds like a great resource, I am interested.

  • tarheel810

    As a manager in the mental health field in NC I am always looking for ways to motivate staff and to make work more enjoyable. The last few years have been tough as NC has gone through extensive reform of their mental health system which has been rocky at best. Whenever providers think they have figured out how the state wants things done, they change the rules again. Any way that I can help my staff to continue to enjoy the work they do will benefit, them, our company, and the people we serve.

  • @crisen

    I'd like a copy of the book to continue learning and experiencing what it means to be more effective and efficient at the work that I do. I'd also like share the wisdom that I trust is contained within its pages to my team. We recently transitioned to Basecamp and are loving its simplicity, power, and elegance. I believe that Rework will help me simplify, re-prioritize, re-think, and revolutionize the way my company approaches how we do business. Lastly, I'd like a copy of Rework simply because of your influence.

  • Charles Barbour

    I need this book. More accurately, my boss needs this book. I believe my very soul is in peril. Every day I feel as if there is less and less of me. I work at a private higher ed university. We specialize in meetings. Please help me. You're my only hope….

  • MyTrainerJim

    Honestly, I simply want to read this book because you have recommended it and it is free! Beyond that I have to say that almost every meeting I have ever been in could have been half the time scheduled and probably could have been avoided all together by making a few 30 second phone calls.

  • @lovinglyyoursG

    Tangible success can only be achieved through ACTION. I have always believed this to be the genuine truth. Brevity and clear focus are the foundation of success. Less is always more when it comes to words. We were having daily staff meetings at work and the person conducting these meetings always loved to waste valuable time by talking, delegating and constantly bringing everyone down. No words of praise would ever be heard in the room. These meetings were full of toxic, vampire energy – literally sucking the joy out of everyone’s spirit. Personally, I have to continually stay FOCUSED above this negativity that flows and penetrates around me. I literally shut it OFF – not even allowing it to enter my thoughts. If I allow it into my thoughts it gets into my mind and finally enters my heart. As a result, a seed of ugliness is planted in my soul. I nip it in the bud. A heavy black cloud glooms over these meetings, but I REMEMBER the SUN is ALWAYS SHINING above these dark clouds. "Rework" will affirm my focus on what I need to do as I interact with others in both my work and personal life everyday.

  • Robin

    I have just begun reading your blog in the last couple of weeks – love it! I would love to have a copy of "Rework". I am assuming a new position of Leadership in a Classical Christian school where I have taught for the last 12 years. I am trying to read everything I can get my hands on to help prepare me for the challenges ahead. My funds are limited and the schools certainly are. In other words I can't buy every book I want. :) Thanks for the opportunity for a free one!

  • Gordon Wong

    Ok, I admit I got a book from you already, but you peaked my interest with the first bullet:
    'Learning from your mistakes is over-rated'.

    I made my share of mistakes and that statement alone is like giving me two DVDs of '24' on a desert island and not sending me the rest. What happened to Jack?!!!!

    You cannot leave me hanging now – especially using some of the advice you've given — that book could very well change working habits I've developed.

  • kevindeshazo

    Funny, somebody was just telling me about this book over lunch the other day. I've been sick of "working for the man", so to speak, and, as a result, recently started my own company. A lot of the frustration stemmed from the all of the "stuff" we had to do that prevented people from actual working (then we came down on people for not performing. Makes sense.) So far it has been a pretty crazy, stressful adventure, but a lot of fun and excitement as well. Sounds like this book could be huge for those who want more from work. Would love a copy!

  • Cheyrl B. Lemine

    What happens when work sucks? Everyone suffers.

    The most rewarding part of my teaching career (expository and creative writing to middle schoolers) is being with the kids and listening to their creative ideas. The part that "sucks" for me is the planning, the lesson creating, the powerpoint making, the smartboard learning. How can I do it all without bringing home three hours of work with me each night? I love giving my best to the kids, being prepared for them, teaching and learning alongside them, but the nuts and bolts of what I do is work and sometimes it really sucks. I need to "ReWork" what it means to be an effective, well-prepared educator. These kids are important. They have much to say and we need to listen. I'm silencing them by being stuck in the suck mode.

    I'm beginning my second year and in addition to the requirements I mentioned earlier, I'm also having to take post grad level classes WHILE I'm teaching in order to meet a deadline in 2012 for my professional certificate. I need to learn how to "ReWork."

    I also need a nice long nap but I promise I'll stay awake long enough to read "ReWork" if you choose to send me a free copy. What's to lose? One hundred seventy students in the Creative Writing Department of LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville, FL stand to benefit – in addition to me!

  • reginasimmons

    This book would be great…because I think it will shift my paradigm for leading in my office. I work in Higher Education and focus on training student leaders. Too often, we narrowly focus on what leadership is and how to lead. I'd love to read this book, have it shake up my views and pass along the information to challenge those around me.

  • Joe Freeland

    I'm faced with a difficult problem…a conundrum maybe. I have to admit that I've already read the book and absolutely loved it. I have recommended it to others. However, I was too cheap to buy the book myself so I borrowed a copy from my library. Now I want one of my own but, alas, I'm still too cheap to buy it and besides I've already read it.

  • @duffbert

    This sounds like one of those books that, once read, changes the way you look at work forever… I'd love to get a copy.

  • John Richardson

    Facing a new school year in a school district where we just went through an early retirement program. Most all of the old guard are gone. The same workload exists, just 9 less days (furlough) to do it all in and over 70 key leadership/operational positions unfilled. We have no time for meetings, no time to learn from mistakes, and it would certainly be nice to go home somewhere near 5 pm. In other words… we need this book… and we need it bad!

  • Jeff Scholen

    My work/life is a wallop,
    Each day I feel like a cut-up scallop
    Maybe Rework can help prevent a hemorrhage
    Where Management can't create a beautiful marriage
    And my work/life balance can truly develop!

  • daveyank

    I would love a copy of Rework because it is directly relevant to me. I run my own web development business and I always here from both camps…the Fried's that say "Good enough is fine", and then those that say plan plan plan test test test tweak tweak tweak…then when it's all perfect, release it.

    Oh yeah, I also found a copy of the 30,000 words they cut, so having the 27,000 that made the cut will be helpful in making it all make sense. :)

  • Kirk Garner

    I not only want this book, I NEED this book. I am a lawyer struggling to get out of a fourteen-year rut. Next week I'm moving my family 800 miles to Colorado, where I will establish a new law practice from scratch. I need to reinvent my practice and my business model. Working harder is not an option, I must work smarter.

  • Denny Russell

    Even if you don't get the free copy, this book is definitely worth the few bucks you'll spend on Amazon to pick it up. It's a great easy read and makes a lot of sense. As an owner of a 10 year old business, it really hit home in some spots.

  • suzi phaneuf

    i would love this book, not so much for myself, but for some of the young women who meet at my home on monday nights, who feel trapped in jobs that are not in their field, and like they are merely putting in time until that elusive 'some day' arrives and they will have the 'perfect job'. as the group's resident bibliophile, i like to be prepared with book recommendations, as well as possible books that we can read & discuss together.

    not to mention, telling them about great books might distract them from the fact that i may or may not have had time to vacuum…

  • @KWaalen

    Wow, this sounds like a book I need to read! Recently at work, we've had to do a lot more with a lot less. It's been quite a stressful experience for everyone. I think this would help me be more efficient in managing my workflow and time, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. And maybe I can score some brownie points by recommending it to my supervisors and the management team. It couldn't hurt, right?

  • Todd Sandel

    Fantastic! I'm a biz leadership book nerd so I really get get into this simplistic yet challenging leadership model for my employees. I am leading a non-profit Christian counseling center called LifeGate and we are focused on being distinctive not only in our psychology services we offer but also in the way we work with each other as a team, encourage each other and create the best possible working environment for each to thrive in autonomy, freedom and teamwork. Thanks for the opportunity to compete for a copy of this new book.

  • Luke Kuepfer

    Let's see…I need to write a reason…hang on a sec–my phone…okay…a reason for…wait–let me check email one more time…oh yeah…reason why I need Rework…I need this book to help me stay…wait a sec–that was my wife…I need this book to help me stay focused…oh man–sorry, but that window shade needed to be closed…oh yeah, what book was that again?–oh, REWORK…need it to help me stay more focused at my work and actually get something done!

    • AJI The coach

      I would like a copy of this book because as a life and business coach it is another incredible tool to get people back in contact with how to make their existing life better. In the stories we tell ourselves we think we need to start over from scratch in order to enjoy life. Instead what we need to do is figure out how to get the most out of the lives we have and figure out how to appreciate the incredible gift our lives are already filled with. Those types of changes require us to come out of denial and it also takes us being willing to evaluate some new and creative ideas, or at the very least revisit the old ideas that we have forgotten and recycle them……
      I pray you send me a book so I can add to the lives of the people I serve….