Nobel Prize winning physics work demands solid chunks of uninterrupted time and concentration. The late, great physicist Richard Feynman had his own way of avoiding the burden of administrative work. “I tell everyone I don’t do anything,” he said. “If anyone asks me to be on a committee … I tell them I’m irresponsible.”
Comedy royalty John Cleese has spoken about the importance of uninterrupted solitude. On the podcast Secret Leaders, he says: “Normally we feel that if somebody knocks on the door of our office, we ought to let them in. You just have to say: ‘No, this is a period of extreme selfishness where I don’t want to be interrupted and I just want to be quiet and have fun and think.’”
Donald Knuth says his life changed for the better in 1990, when he gave up email. Yep, one of the legendary figures in computer science has no inbox. His focus on learning and understanding computer science means he ruthlessly eliminates trivial tasks. “What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration,” he says.