Jason Fried

February 15, 2022

Watch out for 12-day weeks

Way back when, we used to release new software on Fridays all the time. That often meant working Saturdays and Sundays to fix an urgent problem with the new stuff, wrecking the weekend for whoever did the release.

It was stupid yet predictable, because we kept setting deadlines at the end of the week, as most naturally do. But Friday is the worse day to release anything.

First off, you probably rushed to finish before the weekend. So work done on Fridays tends to be a bit sloppy.

Second, Mondays don't come after Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays do. So if something goes wrong, someone's working the weekend.

Third, if you work the weekends, you don't get a chance to recharge. Basically, when you've worked all week, and you're forced to work the weekend, the following Monday is the eighth day of last week, not the first day of next week. This means that if you keep working through the following week, you're working 12-day weeks. That's no good.

So here we were, creating unnecessary stress for ourselves. Stress that not only existed in the moment, but that also lingered into the following week. Why?

We couldn't come up with a good reason, so instead of shipping big software updates on Fridays, we now wait until Monday or Tuesday the following week. Yes, this introduced other risks — but we had the time and space to handle them.

This encouraged us to take quality assurance more seriously, so we can catch more issues ahead of time. Reducing release-day stress was a multipronged approach. First comes recognition then comes remediation.

Today shipping new software at Basecamp is almost entirely stress-free. There will always be some butterflies in the stomach — even a professional musician or public speaker gets nervous when they go onstage in front of a huge crowd. But stressed out and worried we are not. And if we're feeling frenzied for any reason, we delay the release until we've calmed down. 

This essay was published in our latest mass-market business book "It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work": https://basecamp.com/books/calm

About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.