Discover more from Creative Destruction
Rabbit Holes 🕳 #12
From thought jobs to climate injustice, 7 types of rest and the cost of convenience
Rabbit Holes 🕳
🤔 We Have ‘Thought Jobs’ Without Much Time To Think
Those of us doing ‘knowledge work’ basically have ‘thought jobs’, which makes seperating work from life extremely difficult, because our minds are always on to something. The solution? We need to normalize taking time to think as being crucial work.
“Before 1900 the average American worker worked more than 60 hours a week. A standard schedule was ten-hour days, six days a week. The only structural limits to working were lighting and religion.
Unions helped turn this around. In 1916, railroad unions demanded an eight-hour work day, largely because work after that point correlated with a rise in accidents and death. […] It worked. Congress passed the Adamson Act, and overtime pay after an eight-hour day became railroad workers’ right. Twenty years later, the New Deal pushed for broader workers’ rights. It used the Adamson Act as a template, as no one wanted to favor one field over another. The eight-hour, five-day workday was standardized for all industries.”
Today, 80 years (!!!) later things are still the same….even though the type and style of work has completely changed:
“The biggest employment change of the last century is the number of careers that shifted from physically exhausting to mentally exhausting. From doing stuff with your arms to doing stuff with your head.”
“Since the constraints of physically exhausting jobs are visible, we took decisive action when things weren’t working, like the Adamson Act. But the limits of mentally exhausting jobs are nuanced and less visible, so we get trapped in a spot where most of us work a schedule that doesn’t maximize our productivity, yet we do nothing about it.”
“The irony is that people can get some of their most important work done outside of work, when they’re free to think and ponder. […] “The ‘larger questions’ often can’t be tackled at work, because creativity and critical thinking require uninterrupted focus – like going for a walk or sitting quietly on a couch by yourself. Or a bike ride. Or talking to someone outside your field.”
“[This is] not about working less. It’s the opposite: A lot of knowledge jobs basically never stop, and without structuring time to think and be curious you wind up less efficient during the hours that are devoted to sitting at your desk cranking out work.”
🧘 7 Types of Rest
What if the physical exhaustion of a 19th century industrial worker isn’t that different to the mental exhaustion (e.g. caused by hundreds of mails, slack messages, Zoom calls, google docs, social media, notifcations, complex questions…) of today’s knowledge workers? The 19th century industrial worker needed physical rest, the 21st century knowledge worker needs cognitive rest!
So here are 7 types of rest to stay healthy:
Physical Rest: In the form of passive (e.g. 7+ hrs of sleep) and active (e.g. stretching, massage) rest.
Mental Rest: Writing down to-dos or checklists, journaling, meditating, taking a break from problem-solving…
Social Rest: Spending more time with people who give you energy (and less with those who steal it) and blocking out time to be alone.
Spiritual Rest: Being part of something bigger e.g. via volunteering or a job that feels purpose-driven.
Sensory Rest: Taking a break from social media, turning off notification, a day without video calls….
Emotional Rest: Spending time with people you can be authentic around or speaking with a therapist to release emotional labor.
Creative Rest: Appreciating beauty in any form, both natural (going for a walk in nature, taking in a sunrise/sunset,…) and human-created (visiting museum or art festival, engaging with music, books, documentaries…).
Read the entire Twitter thread for more info:
⚖️ Climate Injustice
We won’t solve (or rather mitigate) the climate crisis without solving the inequality crisis. Seeing the two as seperate, distinct challenges makes it harder to solve either of them.
Climate injustice on an individual, energy-consumption level:
Climate injustice on a corporate level:
Since 1988, 100 corporations have been responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
And climate injustice on a country or regional level:
There is extreme injustice between the Global North (the region most responsible for climate change) vs. the Global South (the region most impacted by the climate crisis):
Remote work, the Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting,….. there’s so much happening within the world of work, all of which is leading to new ideas of work. Polywork turns the idea of the full-time, having one-job workstyle around and asks the question: “Is any single 9-to-5 job really worth all my time?”
“More folks are now turning to something called "polyworking," or choosing to hold multiple part-time jobs, rather than a single full-time one—not as a means to an end, but ostensibly, as a permanent thing.”
“The term "polywork," which, as a hashtag, has amassed 4.2 million views on TikTok, was coined by a professional-meets-social network of the same name that launched last year. According to a blog post from the company's founder Peter Johnston, Polywork (the social network) was created with the idea that today, ‘we are all more than our [singular] job titles’ and that folks who do lots of things need a space to fully represent themselves and their interests beyond the basic LinkedIn parameters of job title, school, and past experience.”
“[…] According to career experts, the forces pushing folks toward polyworking are more nuanced than what money alone can explain. Take, for example, the possibility of better crafting a career and work schedule that aligns with your different interests and skills […]. This kind of variety really registers for folks like Zoey Gong, who was once a registered dietitian in a hospital, but is now a chef, food writer, cookbook author, painter, and entrepreneur, among other things.
‘From a mental health perspective, polyworking is really freeing. If I am bored or tired of writing, I pick up my paint brushes; if I am stuck with a painting, I open my laptop and work on my new event-space business. My mind is always stimulated this way, and I'm able to be more creative.’”
“I’m now seeing people who have the traditionally esteemed Fortune 500 job shifting to polywork because it better fulfills their needs for creativity and freedom.” —Rachel Montañez, burnout coach
📱 The Cost Of Convenience & A Frictionless Existence
In my previous issue “The Cult of Convenience”, I have already looked into the damage our obsession with convenience (or frictionless services) is causing. The below is a bit more focused on personal well-being but the idea is similar: Avoiding friction is reducing ‘texture’ in our lives.
“Modern culture is marked by an obsession with avoiding friction.
Our society has come to view friction as something toxic—in need of complete eradication. We will not rest until this toxic element is completely removed from our lives.
There are countless examples:
Frictionless Commerce: The removal of all pain from daily commerce. The rise of e-commerce, one-click-checkout, and mobile pay all fall into this bucket.
Frictionless Communication: The removal of all pain from daily interactions. The rise of dating apps, messaging services, and social networking apps all fall into this bucket.
Frictionless Work: The removal of all pain from daily work. The rapid acceleration of remote work, the decline of commuting, and the rise of flexible and asynchronous work all fall into this bucket.
We like things that make our lives feel easier. […] A frictionless life is an "easy" life. […] And to be clear, "easy" can be good! The rise of remote and hybrid work, for example, is leveling the opportunity playing field, enabling broader participation in upward economic mobility and allowing more people to feel the fulfillment of productive employment.
But "easy" is a double-edged sword. […] When we press the metaphorical "Easy Button" over and over again, something bad slowly starts to happen.”
“…if you don't watch out, all your little self worth eggs, so to speak, are kept in the same work basket - and, step by step, you start to live the life of a stranger. You eat the food of someone else, wear the clothes of not-you, in an apartment that might as well be a hotel room, with kids that are more attached to their nanny than to you”
“Our steady, monotonous friction avoidance is reducing texture in our lives, causing it to pass by quickly and without purpose or meaning. What's more, our "friction muscle" is atrophying in this frictionless world. We rarely face the struggles that created friction in our lives, so we're losing our ability to endure and outlast them. When we do inevitably encounter them, we simply break. The smallest inconveniences seem to annoy us to all hell.”
“[But] friction is an essential fabric of life. It's time we reclaim its esteemed position in our lives.”
That’s it for this week!