The Smarter Brain

Highly Productive People Work With Doors Open

publishedover 1 year ago
2 min read

Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins

3 Ideas For Better Habits


Highly Productive People Work With Doors Open

Turing award winner, Computer Scientist and Mathematician Richard Hamming on the secret to long term success:

"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.

Now I cannot prove the cause and effect sequence because you might say, "The closed door is symbolic of a closed mind.'' I don't know. 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."

Source: You and Your Research (1986)


Make Surprising Familiar, and Familiar Surprising

Author Derek Thompson on how to sell anything:

"To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar.”

Source: Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction


The Best Solution to Your Problem Will Appear When You Stop Looking

Renown Mathematician Michael Atiyah on the source of ingenious ideas:

"Q: How do you select a problem to study?

A: I think that presupposes an answer. I don’t think that’s the way I work at all.

Some people may sit back and say, “I want to solve this problem” and they sit down and say, “How do I solve this problem?” I don’t. I just move around...thinking about things, being curious, interested, talking to people, stirring up ideas; things emerge and I follow them up.

Or I see something which connects up with something else I know about, and I try to put them together and things develop. I have practically never started off with any idea of what I’m going to be doing or where it’s going to go...I have never started off with a particular goal, except the goal of understanding."

Source: Mathematical Conversations

Productivity Tools and Resources


The Beginner's Guide on How to Improve Your Focus and Concentration

A science based focus guide designed to train your brain to stay focused and avoid distractions.


Pretend You're Busy During Zoom Calls

The busy simulator helps you pretend you're busy by playing a bunch of app notification sounds. Sounds include a google calendar, slack, apple mail, a vibrating phone, and more.

Brain Food

Thought Provoking Question: Mathematician Richard Hamming used to ask people in other fields:

"What are the most important problems in your field?"

"Why aren't you working on them?"

Today I Learned: The letter V is the only letter in the English language that is never silent. (Source)

Have a productive week,

The Smarter Brain Team

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