I started Work Clean with the expectation that it would be like so many of the mediocre pieces of airport bookstore fodder in its ilk: "here's how this somewhat interesting concept in an orthogonal discipline can be applied to your life, with 200 pages of poorly edited and increasingly thin metaphors to buttress out the runtime."

And, in many ways, it is that book. But — and maybe it's where I am in my life and my increasing sense that software development is going to look more like cooking than like industrial design, maybe it's just because I really liked The Bear — I found it to be the best possible version of that book, and probably the single most useful primer on how to orient yourself around knowledge work that I've read in a long time. It is a thinly-veiled pastiche of Getting Things Done [1], but replaces much of the now-dated specifics in GTD with things that are much more modern and relatable. The prose is solid; the metaphors and too-cute anecdotes do not outstay their welcome.

It is not a life-changing book, but it (along with The E-Myth Revisited) are the two best productivity/business/personal growth books I've read in a long time, and the two that I would have very few qualms recommending.

  1. Pastiche is perhaps not the right word, as the author directly calls out GTD as an inspiration ↩︎


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