Get the key ideas from

Designing Your Work Life

How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work

By Bill Burnett, Dave Evans
13-minute read
Audio available
Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

Designing Your Work Life (2020), the handbook from design gurus Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, teaches readers how to apply the principles of good design to their careers. Rather than change jobs, Burnett and Evans advocate for redesigning the job you already have to create the work life of your dreams.

  • Uninspired nine-to-fivers looking for a total job overhaul
  • Frustrated freelancers ready for their business to thrive
  • Anyone secretly dreaming of a dramatic career change

Bill Burnett is executive director of Stanford University’s Design Program and previously worked as a designer at Apple. Dave Evans is co-director of the Stanford Design Lab and co-founder of entertainment design firm Electronic Arts. Burnett and Evans are also co-authors of the New York Times number-one best-seller, Designing Your Life.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
4,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Designing Your Work Life

How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work

By Bill Burnett, Dave Evans
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett, Dave Evans
Synopsis

Designing Your Work Life (2020), the handbook from design gurus Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, teaches readers how to apply the principles of good design to their careers. Rather than change jobs, Burnett and Evans advocate for redesigning the job you already have to create the work life of your dreams.

Key idea 1 of 9

Wherever you are in your career is good enough – for now.

Do you remember those childhood car trips spent chorusing “Are we there yet?” from the back seat? As an adult, you probably don’t do that anymore – at least, not in the car. But when it comes to your career, it’s possible you’re still caught up in an “Are we there yet?” mindset.

That’s because, when you're not achieving your ambitions, it’s easy to feel unhappy in your work life. What’s more, focusing on where you’re headed is a big distraction because it stops you from making meaningful changes to the job you currently have.

The key message is: Wherever you are in your career is good enough – for now.

Modern society has conditioned us to want more of everything, whether that’s more money or more status. Unfortunately, the thing with more is, you can never get enough of it. 

For psychologists, it fits with something they call the hedonic treadmill. That’s when the pleasure of getting what you want leads you to repeat the same behavior over and over again. The chemical high in your brain fades, but you want more, so round you go. You’re stuck on a treadmill. 

Burnett and Evans call the type of person struggling on this treadmill a “non-life designer.” That’s someone who wants more from her career: a bigger office, a better salary, or more authority, but she doesn’t examine why she wants these things. To get out of this relentless cycle, the authors suggest you should become a “life-designer.” That’s someone who lives with intention and knows that wherever she is right now is good enough. 

This ability to accept that your job is “good enough for now” uses one of the most effective tools in the designer’s toolkit: the reframe. But note that this isn’t about relabelling your situation. You can’t just grit your teeth and tell yourself your job is fine. To reframe your mindset, you must restructure your point of view. That means noticing what’s good about your current role by focusing on what works well and the tasks you enjoy. If this doesn’t come naturally, try keeping a journal. 

By reframing your perspective, you’ll be able to see your situation more clearly. You may spot ways to redesign your job so that it works better for you. Or you may discover something that’s lacking in your work life. And once you know that, you can start to address the gap. 

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.