Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. In his talk, he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work. (Filmed at TEDxMidWest.)



  • basement – the floor of a building which is partly or entirely below ground level
  • commute – a regular journey of some distance to and from one’s place of work
  • shred – tear or cut into tiny pieces
  • distraction – a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else
  • enlighten – give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation
  • encourage – give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at the times indicated in brackets.

  • Why do people go to the office every day? (0:58)
  • Where do people go and what do they need to get their work done? (3:10)
  • Does your day at work look similar to what Jason Fried has described? (3:55)
  • What do people really need to get the work done? Do you agree? (5:01)
  • What are the similarities between sleep and work? (6:42)
  • What is the difference between distractions at the office and those at home? Which are more counterproductive and why? (7:45)
  • What are M&Ms? (9:38)
  • What is Jason’s Fried opinion about meetings? Why are they counterproductive? (11:24)
  • What three suggestions does Jason Fried have to improve the quality of work at the office?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

And what you find is that, especially ________ creative people — designers, programmers, writers, engineers, thinkers — that people really need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get something ________. You cannot ask somebody to be creative ________ 15 minutes and really think about a problem. You might have a quick idea, but to be ________ deep thought about a problem and really consider a problem carefully, you need long stretches of uninterrupted time. And even though the workday is typically eight hours, ________ many people here have ever ________ eight hours to themselves at the office? How about seven hours? Six? Five? Four? When’s the last time you ________ three hours to yourself at ________ office? Two hours? One, maybe? Very, very few people actually have long stretches of uninterrupted time at ________ office. And this is why people choose to do work ________ home, or they might go to ________ office, but they might go to the office really early in ________ day, or late ________ night when no one’s around, or they stick around after everyone’s left, or they go in ________ the weekends, or they get work done ________ the plane, or they get work done in ________ car or ________ the train because there are ________ distractions.


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