Friday, February 07, 2014

From the desk of Flawsophy's Evil Twin ...

I think it’s safe to say 60%, way over 60%, of anyone’s job [1] is full of dumb task that any random bunch of monkeys with typewriters will eventually accomplish them all. But, I don’t mind dumb work. I like doing dumb work. Most of my research job still involves mundane stuff painfully collecting data off the web, organize it, copy here, paste there and get it into a readable format that can be processed further for meaningful conclusions. These tasks take more time than working out the idea or putting together the final results. 

Like all people born with a hint of (unnecessary) self-importance, I once used to think it’s much better to be the “ideas” guy, come up with cool ideas, pass the execution onto the minions and start thinking about the next cool idea. But 6 years of grad school and a couple of research jobs later, I realize that putting together the whole package is more fulfilling at the end than coming up with the ideas and be disgruntled about how another fellow ruined a beautiful idea that sounded so perfect in my head. Nowadays, I gleefully pick me for ruining my own ideas (if they will let me).  Therefore, I don’t mind dumb work. After all, doing dumb work helps me:
  • Relax, empty my head and be ready for the next “stroke of inspiration” [2]
  • Have a system where I can entertain myself at the job in the middle of the week.
Some days, I am so much in the right mood for dumb work that I find myself volunteering for it. That way, I can look out the window, see what’s the weather like, put on a nice raga or some Jazz saxophone by Sidney Bechet and suddenly, I am having more fun than everyone else as I am copying data from one excel file to another and replying to non-critical emails. I am glad that my office lets me do that once in a while.

Either that or I have cultivated a real good system to deny that my job is 60% boring. What say?


[1] In fact, there is no such thing as a “cool” job. The only thing is if the end result of the effort is either “cool” or not. Otherwise,the process is mostly painful. I used to think what a cool job AR Rahman or Martin Scorsese has that they are so talented and they get to do something they love and are good at. And then, I started realizing how I got it all backwards.  After watching a lot of “Making of ____” youtube videos in a mood of numb admiration, DAMN, what a huge, huge pain is making the final cut of a song !!! By jove, it hardly ends with simply sitting alone with the piano and composing a melody. He has to orchestrate everything, go over and over again, bar by bar, note by note. None of them fun at all and one would think he could better use the time composing more tunes. I am glad it isn’t that easy and it doesn’t work that way. This is the most important thing I learnt in my recently-concluded twenties :)

[2] I don’t know but I tend to believe that any idea you get is a pure stroke of luck that the universe picked you at all. The best you can do is be ready and wait ...


smanu said...

As long as one's dumb work does not negatively affect(encroach into) others' work/life, it is harmless. And one can continue to dedicate to it, how much ever time-frame one is comfortable with(one can afford to). That is all I've got to say here.

smanu said...

And regarding a related post in evil twin, I think they do NOT want us to become just that - "capitalist workforce junkie" when they say our productivity can be improved, I know it because that is how I feel now, like an absolute junkie with my low productivity.

While expectations are pre-project criteria, a comment on productivity, imo, is more a subjective comment based on 'observing' "how"(like some might do things by hook or crook or get it done by others or just slog) we met the expectations. The comment could be in our good interests of well-being too(similar to what u say - that u want to have fun in the personal front while still meeting expectations). Well this might apply to only humane bosses, but that too perhaps not without their own self-interest that we must "continue" to meet expectations in the future and not just collapse meeting the expectations for the current project. This might make more sense if one is working for, say a family collaboration, where the head of the business might love you to meet his expectations with as best as your productivity possible and still spare time for personal life.

It is my personal experience speaking here(and ur life might as well include some such), because there were times when I had already set high expectations and my health experienced sudden unforeseen collapses. As a result, even if my bosses would have been ok to lower their expectations, the business scenarios we are all involved in, would not let them to lower the expectations. So either I slog and torture myself or quit and let somebody else to do the job better! Well, I do NOT consider myself irreplaceable in any kind of job anyway and I would NEVER do a job at the cost of torturing myself, because that is sure bound to affect not just me, but others.

Well, these kind of scenarios are more exceptions than the norm, in general, but unfortunately in some lives, they might not really be exceptions.

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