This is so true

Paul Graham’s post on keeping a program in ones head.

I cannot stand distractions when I’m trying to get things done. It is always good when I learn that I’m not alone on this topic. For example, I’ve read this same story but for people in other fields that also require high-concentration.

In a video on Richard Feynman, he jokingly told the same story. His technique was to just not do his job and work on the things he wanted to. Eventually the other people would stop assigning him tasks and left him alone. (Note: it helps if you have already accomplished great things in order to pull this off).

Also, in a biography on Arthur C. Clarke, his relatives explained how he couldn’t be interrupted for “tea or anything” when writing. If you did interrupt him, this mild mannered fellow would blow up in anger. This led his first and only marriage to a divorce within one year.

Now, I’m not comparing myself to them, I’m just recognizing that knowledge work that requires memory doesn’t work at all with distraction. When great people who have accomplished great things say the same thing… then maybe there is something to what Paul is saying. You don’t have to dig to deep in the software industry to see that people are understanding this and starting to change things… which is good.

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One Response to This is so true

  1. lispy says:

    I have some of these qualities to a frightening extent. As with Arthur C. Clarke, it is not the best thing for a marriage– though mine’s lasted a bit longer than his single year flame out (but you’d think women would know what they’re getting into when they marry a Mad Genius type….) I wish I’d known what to expect in terms of the friction that can be generated on this point so that I could have laid down some ground rules: “Look, I’m a Geek. At some point in this relationship I’m going to get obsessed with a pet project and procrastinate on your “honey do” list and just generally be oblivious to everything else for a while. If you don’t let these things run their course, you will make me bitterly unhappy and ruin our relationship. Take me or leave me, but this is part of the deal.”

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