Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

I can’t answer questions

Short explanation:

Answering people’s questions was taking up all of my time. So I quit.

Please contact me to introduce yourself, share your thoughts, or anything else. I happily read and reply to every email. But if you ask me a question, unfortunately I can’t answer.

Try searching?

Everything I know is on my site, whether in my articles, my interviews, or my book notes. You can search those all at once, here:

Long explanation:

You’d think it would be easy to answer a quick 5-minute question, right? But I get almost 100 a day, so that’s 500 minutes, which is about 8 hours.

In 2016, I answered 30,904 emails from 11,971 people. Since 2008, I’ve answered over 192,000 emails from 78,000 people.

Answering people’s questions had become my full-time job. This approach was unsustainable.

So my original plan was to become completely unreachable after 2016! I was going to go hard-core, shut off all email and social media, and make myself unreachable to all but a few close friends and colleagues. It felt like the only solution.

But then I realized I could remain reachable as long as I don’t answer questions. (This is like tilting my mirror.)

It only takes a few minutes a day to read my emails, and say thanks. What was taking forever were my answers!

So, I’m sincerely sorry if you took the time to send me a question, and I sent you here. It feels weird to not answer. I hope you understand why I can’t. I need to finish my projects instead.

Lastly, please see why you should still contact me anyway.

Related story:

As a musician, I would often do shows where I would perform for two hours, playing every single song I knew.

People would come up to me to make a request. I’d have to say, “Sorry, I’m playing you everything I know.”

This website is like my show.