Grunt work is often a significant portion of our job that makes it feel like “work.”  It is not the fun part of our day.  However, there are pros and cons to this well-known task.

What is Grunt Work?

Let’s start with a definition.  Investopedia provides an excellent example.

Grunt work is an expression used to describe thankless and menial workGrunt work can also refer to jobs that lack glamour and prestige or are boring and repetitive.

I think the keywords of “thankless” and “boring” are enough to provide the negatives for this type of work.  However, we have a bright side we can focus on as well.

A Refreshing Grunt

I think about Tim Allen’s trademark grunting sound as part of this factor.  Sometimes it is refreshing to turn off our brain to some extent.  Work can provide some of these opportunities.  The keyword in our definition that points to this is “menial.”  Our daily work can be mentally draining.  We spend long hours solving highly complex problems.  While a vacation is an excellent way to recharge, we can also benefit from doing less challenging work.  Think of how some physical workout routines alternate days from light to heavy workouts.  Grunt work gives us a way to stay productive and yet expend less energy than usual.

Automation Ideas

The last word in the definition provides another positive insight.  Anything we run into that is repetitive is a candidate for automation.  That means we have a potential for a feature, product, or maybe just a side project (or hustle).

A simple example from my past was a “build and deploy” process for an application I was working on.  I was at a point where I was not only deploying code; I was rebuilding a database.  While I had a series of menial commands configured to get the job done, it still was time-consuming.  I had to sit there throughout the process.  I recognized the repetitive nature and well-defined steps were perfect for automation.  Therefore, I spent some time getting to know Ant and built a script that allowed me to enter a single command to get that process done.  I was then able to refill my water bottle during the process or otherwise regain a little time.

Episode Challenge: List recent grunt work and review it for some possible automated solution?

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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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