Let me explain what I mean by that.
Many of us are knowledge workers—that is, we use our brains to solve problems for a living. Doing good knowledge work requires deep concentration, which requires unbroken chunks of time—at least an hour, for most people. You don’t write a symphony five minutes at a time.￼
So far, so good, right? Here’s the problem: unbroken chunks of time have become scarce. ￼Emails, texts, Slack messages, and a dozen other forms of incoming communication nudge us incessantly. Devoting 90 focused minutes to an important project, therefore, means we need to let these incoming messages pile up a bit.
We don’t like to let things pile up. We like to keep on top of things—right on top.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ We like to check our email every two minutes, partially because email is addictive, and partially because it feels like immediately replying to messages is our job.
That’s not our job. Our job is to solve important problems, not to answer all emails within five minutes.
It’s hard. I struggle every day to close my email client, pause my wifi, and log an hour of deep work on a major professional project. Many days, I fail. But when I succeed, I know I’m doing my job to the best of my ability.
The world can wait an hour. Our job is to do our job.