Hamster work

Spent the morning doing hamster work – it’s the handling of emails and administrative tasks each so small that they do not really require much thought but taken collectively they can destroy any attempt to carry out real work (writing, researching etc). It’s called hamster work because after a day carrying it out you go home without having produced anything. It feels much like a hamster must feel after running in the treadmill. Lots of movement but no distance.

Photo: Cholate Loving Hamster by Steve_C (CC BY-NC-ND)

After two hours of attempting to empty my inbox, it now contains 92 essential emails (from the original 224). It isn’t fun discovering things have been forgotten but now at least I am (almost) on top of my email again.

By the way have you read Knuth on email? Here is a short quote:

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don’t have time for such study.