Why Can’t People Get Work Done at Work

Jason Fried on “Why work doesn’t happen at work.”

Audience and Theme

Mr. Fried is speaking mostly towards the non-managerial working professional crowd.

Structure and Style

Mr. Fried’s structure is a straight-forward Attention-Problem-Solution format. Mr. Fried primarily uses colloquialisms, rhetorical questions, and casual analogies.

Best Practices

I like Mr. Fried’s use of analogy, such as his analogy to sleep: just like how interrupting sleep deteriorates its quality, interrupting your work can deteriorate your work’s quality as well. But I think it could’ve been done better. Lynda.com has an excellent course on Time Management Fundamentals that talks about this concept, it calls it “switch-tasking.” It has a hands-on example that powerfully conveys the point and, in my experience, is a real mind-changer for those who go through it. I don’t see that with Mr. Fried’s speech.

Why Did It Work?

Managers are people whose job it is to interrupt people.

How much you agree with this line I think will indicate how much you like this talk. I think Mr. Fried has some good points, but he overreaches in many areas, including this one. He goes on to say that meetings are the main problem, but are they really? Sure if they’re done poorly, such as with spontaneous meetings — as with anything — but has any important initiative or change been accomplished through a series a emails or IMs alone? While I can’t say that’s what Mr. Fried is necessarily suggesting here, he certainly doesn’t make room for this. I think he’s essentially losing the forest for the trees here. His points and techniques lack the level of sophistication, nuance, and refinement required to make his points truly effective.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend the Lynda.com course by Dave Crenshaw, which you can preview for free here.

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