Ever since the industrial revolution, we have learnt to work like machines.
Our jobs are filled with repetitive, rule based work. Most of the world follows a strict 9-5 regimen, with the rest of us work in shifts around the clock. It is quite telling that both those terms, ‘work’ and ‘job’ originated in shop-floors.
Not all humans work like machines though. A handful of the most highly paid professionals are paid for the creative insights that they generate. Even as automation looms large over the rest of human society, it is their jobs that are most secure.
As machines threaten to take away our jobs, here are a couple of fundamental differences between how we work vis-a-vis machines.
1. Machines follow the same rules over and over. Humans are great at creating rules and terrible at following them.
2. For greatest efficiency machines need to be in continuous and steady operation. Humans work best with intermittent periods of rest and motion.
Biological systems work best when they fluctuate between periods of intense operation and complete rest. That is why interval training works so well. In periods of rest and recovery, our muscle fibers grow stronger and the brain generates the best ideas. The deeper your periods of rest, the more insightful your ideas will be.
Preventing your job from being taken by a machine is to learn to perform creative work. This requires us to build a habit of going from intense work to complete rest.