Monday, October 22, 2018

Administration vs. Productivity

In Deep Work, Cal Newport cites an interview in which Richard Feynman explained an anti-administration productivity strategy.
To do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time… it needs a lot of concentration… if you have a job administrating anything, you don’t have the time. So I have invented another myth for myself: that I’m irresponsible. I’m actively irresponsible. I tell everyone I don’t do anything. If anyone asks me to be on a committee for admissions, “no,” I tell them: I’m irresponsible.
Feynman was adamant in avoiding administrative duties because he knew they would only decrease his ability to do the one thing that mattered most in his professional life: “to do real good physics work” (pp. 61-62).
The name Richard Feynman always catches my attention. I enjoyed his book, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. In one essay therein he described how his father was very vivid in his descriptions of things when reading to him as a kid. If he was talking about the size of a dinosaur, he told him while standing on ground floor level, he could poke his head into a second-floor window of their house. As a scientist he also was continually unsure of things, and did not embrace faith for that reason. He was on the team investigating the Challenger explosion incident. Interesting guy.

His comments cited here set up an extremely clear distinction between work and busywork. While I can do administration, it's more of necessity and as a means to an end. I see the value of deep concentrated work. For me, it's more just a question of economics right now.

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