“Another trait, it took me a while to notice,” said Richard Hamming in You and Your Research. “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 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 their doors open and those who ultimately do important things, though people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on ...

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