Give it five minutes

I used to be a hothead. Whenever anyone said anything, I’d think of a way to disagree. I’d push back hard if something didn’t fit my world-view.

It’s like I had to be first with an opinion — as if being first meant something. But what it really meant was that I wasn’t thinking hard enough about the problem. The faster you react, the less you think. Not always, but often.

It’s easy to talk about knee jerk reactions as if they are things that only other people have. You have them too. If your neighbor isn’t immune, neither are you.

Keep reading “Give it five minutes”

Can old world be more modern than new school?

I’ve got two machines on me.

One’s strapped to my left wrist. The other lives in my pocket.

The one on my wrist can tell me the time (precisely in 12 hour format, roughly in 24), the day of the week, the month of the year, which year of the leap year cycle we’re in, and the current moon phase. But that’s its limit. There’s no software, only hardware. It’s programmed in springs and gears and levers and jewels.

The one in my pocket can tell me anything and do just about everything. It knows my voice, it responds to my touch, and it even instantly recognizes my fingerprint out of fourteen billion fingers. This machine even knows the angle, velocity, and distance it travels when I swing it around. And it always knows exactly where it is anywhere on the planet.

But sometimes I wonder which one is more modern.

The one in my pocket can do more, but only for a limited time. And then it can’t do anything. It dies unless it can drink electrons from a wall through a cable straw for some hours every day. And in a few years it’ll be outdated. In ten years it might as well be 100 years old. Is something that ages so fast ever actually modern?

And then there’s the machine on my wrist. It’s powered entirely by human movement. No batteries, no cables, no daily dependency on the outside world. As long as I’m running, it’s running. And as long as one person checks it out once a decade, it’ll be working as well in 100 years as it works today. It’s better than modern. It’s timeless — yet it keeps time.

As time goes by, my pocket will meet many machines. My wrist might too. But when I look down at the machine on my wrist today, and know that in 50 years my son will be able to look down at his wrist at the same machine ticking away the same way it ticks today. That’s a special kind of modern reserved for a special kind of machine: the wonderful mechanical wristwatch.

The Person They’ll Become

One of the biggest challenges when hiring someone is trying to envision their potential.

Sometimes someone’s a sure bet. They’re the perfect person for the perfect project at the perfect time. Their pedigree is exceptional, their portfolio is stocked with amazing work, their experience is vast, they’re a confident interview, and everything just feels right.

It happens, but that’s not how it usually works. There are very few perfect people.

Instead there’s a lot of future perfect people. People who have the potential to become the perfect person in the perfect role if just given the right opportunity.

When I hire designers, I look for future perfect people. Some people have the potential, but they haven’t had the opportunities. Their portfolios are full of mediocre work, but it’s not because they’re mediocre designers. It’s because they’ve been given mediocre opportunities.

A lot of future perfect people are stuck in current mediocre positions. They just haven’t had the chance to do their best work.

While it’s a bonus to find that perfect person today, I find more it more rewarding (for me and them) to pluck the future perfect person out of their mediocre job today. I love betting on people with potential. When they finally get that chance to do their best work, they blossom in such a special way.

And as the owner of a company, few things make me prouder than seeing someone excelling in a way that their resume/portfolio/references wouldn’t have suggested they could.

Basecamp 3: Work Can Wait

This is the first post about the upcoming major release of Basecamp 3.

We’ve been working on Basecamp 3 for over a year now, and some of the concepts can be traced back to explorations we started a couple of years ago. We’re in the home stretch and we’re excited to let it loose.


Over the next month or so I’ll be sharing some of the key ideas behind the all-new version of Basecamp, as well as screenshots, design decisions, strategic decisions, and stories of the development of the third complete ground-up rethink and redesign of Basecamp in 12 years.


The first place I want to start is one of the fundamental pillars of the new product design: Work Can Wait.

If you’ve used a modern chat, collaboration, or messaging app, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a growing expectation of being available all the time. Someone at work hits you up on a Saturday, you get the notification, and what are you supposed to do? You could ignore them, but what’s the expectation? The expectation is “if you’re reachable, you should reply.” And if you don’t reply, you’ll likely notice another message from the same tool or a tool switch to try to reach you another way. And then the pressure really mounts to reply. On a Saturday. Or at 9pm on a Wednesday. Or some other time when it’s life time, not work time.

I don’t believe tools are at fault for this — tools just do what toolmakers build them to do. But I do believe toolmakers can build tools that help you draw a line between work and life. We’ve baked these good manners into Basecamp 3 with a feature we’re calling Work Can Wait.


Like other modern messaging tools, Basecamp 3 sends notifications in-app, via push notifications on the desktop or via a native mobile app, or via email. Where they show up depends on what you’re doing and where you are, but regardless, Basecamp tries to get your attention when someone asks for your attention.

That’s fine during the work day. Basecamp 3 lets you snooze notifications any time to give you a break for a few hours, so that’s good. But what about if it’s 8pm on a Monday night? Or on a weekend? You don’t want to have to continually snooze notifications manually. And you don’t want to have to manually turn them on or off every day, at least twice a day, to keep work stuff at bay while you’re trying to stay away.

So Basecamp 3 lets you set a notifications schedule.

Set up your Work Can Wait schedule

Each person in Basecamp 3 can set up their own work schedule with their own hours. You can of course choose to to receive notifications all the time, 24/7/365, no matter what. Or, you can say Work Can Wait — only send me notifications during my work hours. Then you can set the start time and end time and also mark off which days you work.

The example above are my work hours. Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm in my time zone.

Outside of this range, Basecamp will basically “hold my calls”. Notifications will automatically be silenced until it’s work time again. Once the clock strikes 8am, notifications will start back up again. Of course at any time I can go into the web app or native apps and check my notifications myself, but that’s me making that decision rather than software throwing stuff at me when I’m going for a walk with my son on a Saturday morning.

Notifications are ON

We also make it really easy to snooze notifications for a few hours, turn notifications off completely, or see/change your schedule quickly.

Notifications are OFF

When you click your picture at the top of the screen you’ll see your current notifications settings. In this first example, notifications are ON because I’m on a schedule from 8am — 6pm M-F. If I want to change that schedule I can just click the “change schedule…” link and switch to always on or tweak my days/hours.

And while they are on, I can quickly snooze them for 3 hours, or turn them off completely until I turn them back on.

If notifications are off, it’ll tell me they are off and then it’ll tell me why. In this example they’re off because I’m set to receive them between 10am and 6pm, and it was 9:23am when I took this screenshot.


We believe Work Can Wait is an important notion. 9pm on Friday night is not work time. 6am on Wednesday morning is not work time. It may be for you, but it’s not for me. And I don’t want it to be work time for my employees either.

Every user on Basecamp 3 starts with a default work time from 8am to 6pm in their own time zone. People are free to change it, of course, but we think it’s important to encourage Work Can Wait rather than default everyone’s notifications on 24/7/365.

We hope more products offer similar abilities to shut themselves off when work is over. “You can get ahold of me about work whenever” will eventually lead to “I don’t want to work here anymore”.

Here’s to early mornings, evenings, and weekends being free from work. Work Can Wait.