I have worked at several disciplines throughout my life, a good while ago I made a conscious decision to pursue working in technology roles because that was my most marketable skill set. I have worked as a metal fabricator, machinist, software developer, system administrator, manager, and in a hybrid of various roles.
My current employment is highly analytical, it involves solving problems, doing research, communicating, and helping people with everything from the mundane to crises. I’ve always performed roles like this, but I’ve also pursued more creative and artistic endeavors.
Working with your hands from day to day hones your senses: your sight becomes keener, your hearing becomes nuanced, and your touch becomes more sensitive to minor surface details. You can discuss how to make a part with different people and you will get different answers, but all produce the article per the same dimensions. What sets each Machinist apart from the other is how they interpret the missing specifications, the skilled artist will produce beautiful looking parts even if it isn’t specified.
The Fabricator is much like the Machinist, but they usually work to larger tolerances or have a more generalized task specification. The person tasked with welding flanges onto a radiator is simply asked to make a functional article from parts A and B, however, good fabricators share the same artistic vision and drive that a good machinist has, they will produce the best looking final article they can.
A System Administrator or Technical Support Engineer performs a role that is no less difficult than the Machinist or the Fabricator, however their role has very little artistic latitude, you are asked to perform a finite analysis, fix a problem, or provide guidance. You will occasionally have an opportunity to be artistic in the form of cable routing or rack layout, but ultimately the objective is more pragmatic. This type of work largely exercises the analytical mind, you are solving problems day in and day out, tasked with analysis and communicating the results.
I find that the analytical mind can operate at all times of the day, it is most keen when rested and fed (and sometimes caffeinated). You can wake up in the morning and dive in to solving problems, you can solve problems at 5pm, and you can solve problems when you are tired; this type of work is procedural.
I have come to realize that the Programmer does not draw on the analytical mind when they are writing program code, they are drawing on the creative mind. Programming is a creative, artistic, endeavor, and it requires harmony between one’s self, the world, and health, when there isn’t harmony it can be like writer’s block to a novelist, in programmer parlance this is called burnout.
The Programmer must draw on the analytical mind when finding a bug, but the design and creation of new software code is artistic and creative. When you are feeling unwell, you don’t get enough sleep, you are anxious, you are preoccupied, or you are burned out, you will not produce the best looking final article you can.
Are you analytical or creative, or are you both? What time of the day is best for each? Do you prefer creative or analytical work? If you could change careers and do what motivates you, what would you do? Would you rather have a career that uses all of your abilities or would you rather save some of those for personal pursuits?