Five types of "Important"
breaking it down... part 3
This is in continuation of my previous posts on work prioritization. If you haven’t read the previous two posts, here are the links:
Now is the time to break down the “Important” into various categories. Well, for me, I have imagined 5 potential classifications of “Important” work. There could be other ways to break it down even more granularly and I look forward to any comments that could expand this list for better utility.
The five sub-classifications of IMPORTANT are:
Creative Work/Practice - this is the work that really matters, the work where you are creating something new, novel, and innovative. Things that do not exist before - original art form. Much of the cognitive work in the software teams are in this space. However, when I mean creative work, for me it includes creative validation. Even most of the creative work done does not have utility until it is validated. In commercial environments, we cant often do art for art’s sake - like a Picasso that is valuable much after he is dead and gone, created for the joy of creating - the fact that it can be indeed created.
Creative Learning - This is a key component of doing creative work. Without learning art does not evolve. Cognitive work gets better when one has options - options to increase looking at things from different perspectives - and different perspectives come from learning. You cant be aware of patterns that you have never seen (in most cases), though it is possible to derive patterns organically from a mass of other patterns of learning one is exposed to.
The IMPORTANT one-time - much of the mundane work that comes by that still needs to be done, often of low utility - the ones that we need to get out of the way so that we can get the focus back on the Creative.
The repetitive IMPORTANT - the work that comes by in repetitive patterns, that need to be done (same as the one-time) - but one could use learning to make this better and shorter. These kinds of work are ripe for automation.
The Deliberate Waste - the kind of waste that is required to make work in the above four more productive and effective. This is different from the “Waste” we talked about in part 1 and part 2 - that waste is the one that is to be “eliminated” - this is waste that is to be “added”
So, if you are curious about all this and asking the question “Where is he going with all this? It is so f#$!ing abstract” then I agree. Yes, it has been so far. So let’s try some examples to fit these in so that I can articulate what this means.
So, in my model, work can be broken into 7 states in all. They being Urgent, Creative Work/practice, Creative Learning, Repetitive important, Important one-off, Deliberate Waste, and Outright waste.
Take my day as an example. Most daily and weekly habits are “Repetitive Important” - whether my exercise, sleep, meditation, strength training, eating right, paying bills, chores like vacuuming, and doing the dishes. One could fit it, have a system and try to improve this within bounds beyond which there are diminishing returns. But these got to be done. Then there is Important one-off work that includes things that happen occasionally and does need to be done. Some emergencies happen where you have a car transmission failure that you need to attend to on the road as an emergency. If life is full of running from one emergency to another emergency to yet another emergency, then it just means one has not mastered the art of doing work (or encoded to do work due to pathological issues) - it does sound like mine though.
Then, there is the “Creative”. I spend an hour at most creating these posts, they are creative, I believe. There may be a creativity that I am applying to other types of work, but in those cases, I am not shipping anything “new”. This is supported by my creative learning - the time I spend reading, listening to books, watching Youtube videos, attending Meetup’s, etc. these support my pattern acquisition leading to the ability to create something “new”
And then is the “Deliberate Waste” that helps me noodle patterns and help me write these articles in the background subconscious brain. A walk around the block would formulate several new ideas. Or a Pomodoro break of 5 minutes or 20 minutes. Watching say “Downton Abbey” would help analyze the way the “Lordship system” worked in those days with its rules, roles, and behaviors that were dutifully followed and help map those patterns against the work I do in organizational culture by establishing the cross-connections.
So, spend some time thinking about this. What type of work goes into these seven classifications in your life? And how much time goes into each of these seven buckets? And where would you like your time to go? If you truly wanted to do more “Creative” work, where would you distribute your time and when?
Ponder on… and I shall return with a cognitive work example of the above next…