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Gruntwork may be the best work.

Louie Bacaj
Louie Bacaj
1 min read
Gruntwork may be the best work.

The act of making things can at times feel like grunt work.

Work can especially feel like grunt work when we repeat the same things. For example, writing unique documentation for a different client that largely resembles the last one certainly feels repetitive. For some of us, it may be too boring to do.

But that thoughtless work that you know exactly what to do on, with no guessing involved, is a lot of the time the best kind of work.

When I moved away from being an individual contributor into management, I rarely got to do any grunt work. Most of my work involved new scenarios of people issues and new decisions to make on new problems almost every time. That might sound exciting, but it quickly becomes incredibly draining. All of your brain cycles are eaten up all of the time, by new and ever more complex and difficult problems. Leaving no spare capacity to wonder. And a lot of the time, there are few gains to show because complex problems rarely have simple and elegant solutions.

Compare that to knowing exactly what to do but just needing to execute.

Like digging a ditch with a shovel, after every dig, you see more of the results of your labor; that’s the beauty of grunt work. Also, while doing grunt work, your brain cycles are free to roam; new ideas come to you as you execute, like the idea to write this article. Building my own App has recently led me to realize and appreciate the value of grunt work again.

I believe now that a healthy mix of new complex problems with no solution and some grunt work mixed in might be the best way to work.