"Stupid work" happens when you give into fear, give up creative control, and stop doing work that matters. Depending on your field of expertise your idea of stupid work might be different from mine. For instance, by the time I was in my mid 20's I worked at a number of "real jobs," had a BA and two masters degrees. But I didn't feel a sense of accomplishment or that my work rocked. A lot of my work was unnecessary, automated, and stupid. Attending three hour meetings, commuting over 2 hours a day, and playing office politics were a few of the many stupid things I engaged in. This type of work left me feeling dissatisfied and pressured to conform to what others wanted my professional life to look like. I also wondered if all my education mattered or if it conditioned me to follow the status-quo.
In many ways I think the motivation for doing stupid work emanates from fear. The fear of being useless, fear of being without money, or the fear of doing something different. By choosing to stop doing stupid work you can make meaningful choices. For example, a meaningful choice might be scaling back the time you spend at the office and devoting those hours to volunteer work.
Here are the top four things that will help you do work that matters.
1. Produce work that creates a better world.
I think people are hungry to do meaningful, creative work. Work that contributes to producing a better world; one in which we can get more from less.
- How does my work make other lives better?
- Does my work give me time for family and community?
- Do I have creative control over my work?
- What is my legacy?
2. Expand your knowledge base to pursue creative endeavors.
Keep learning and expanding your knowledge to pursue creative endeavors, to question the status-quo, and to make informed choices.
3. Focus on one thing at a time.
In an age of distraction there is a lot to be said for focus. So many folks try to do 5 things at once, rather than focusing on one task. For instance, if your working on an article focus on that task. Do you research ahead of time and then start writing.
4. Keep asking questions.
Professionals control the technical means but not the social goals of their creative work. The professional's lack of control over the political content of his or her creative work is the hidden root of much career dissatisfaction … Professionals are licensed to think on the job, but they are obedient thinkers. ~Jeff Schmidt
Continue to ask yourself hard questions about the nature of work. By asking tough questions you might be "unprofessional," but you won't be an obedient thinker.