Keeping the Office Door Open

But I can say there is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing - not much, but enough that they miss fame."

Keeping the Office Door Open

Richard Hamming has an amazing talk called You and Your Research. In it, he said,

"I noticed the following facts about people who work with the door open or the door closed.

I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't know quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort of tangential in importance.

He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important.

...There is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing - not much, but enough that they miss fame."

This quote has been on my mind a lot lately, it seemingly applies to every area of my life. Maybe it also applies to yours.


I first read about this in Swizec's newsletter, then I went on to read all of Hamming's speech, and holy cow. Highly recommend (both Swiz's newsletter and Hamming's talk.)

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