Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Challenge in "Creative Economy" Jobs

So the current description for today's American work era is "The Creative Economy". We are a country that is no longer broadly based on industrial or agricultural output, or at least not in the sense that we need as much manpower doing these types of jobs as we once did, now that we have machinery doing much of the work instead.

The Creative Economy moniker suggests that more people are spending their time creating, thinking, designing, and performing other abstract tasks rather than hammering, cutting, soddering, and the like. As an example, I'm in the field of marketing which falls very squarely in the boundaries of the Creative Economy description. Most of my day revolves around planning, creating new marketing campaigns, writing, etc. You won't see me plowing a field or building a car... and that's probably a good thing if you want to eat good food or drive a reliable car! Those types of things just are not my strength, so I naturally strayed away from doing them.

One tough challenge that I find when working in this Creative Economy, however, is the lack of structured hours. It's not necessarily a bad thing (though it can be), but when your job as a marketer is to complete a task as abstract as "to get more customers", then there really is no end to your day. You can always do a little more to bring in that next customer. It's not like working in a factory where you have to finish X number of units in Y number of hours and you're free to go home. In jobs where your primary resource is your brainpower and not your physical stamina, you can, in theory just go on and on and on with trying to do something a little bit better.

For example, part of my job is to update our organization's website and potentially overhaul it altogether. This might sound easy, but the reality is that once you start tweaking or rebuilding a web site, your job is NEVER done. Every day there are more things that can be added or taken down or edited or moved around, until your eyes pop out of your head looking at the computer monitor. Trying to think of and create the perfect website is a never-ending task, and inevitably somebody down the road or somebody looking for a job at home can do it better than you can, putting all that much more pressure on you to be the best.

True, this encourages you to give it "110%", as they say, but the question it all boils down to is... "What exactly is 110%?" If it's in my job description that I can clock out at 5:00, well, should I... even if I can keep working on the website to make it a little bit better? Maybe I should stay another hour and keep going on it. Or how about two hours.... I think you get the idea here.

Ultimately you have to get creative with how you manage your time and get your work done. Which can be a whole job in and of itself. And don't get me started on "thinking outside of the box"...

No comments: