7

Example:

"More Effort" is good for [non-creative] tasks, like building a wall or cleaning your room. But when it comes to creative tasks - like writing a novel or music - it is good to get your mind in a placid state where the work feels effortless.

i.e, it's a task you don't really have to think much about while doing. It's not cognitive, per se.

  • 4
    mechanical, mundane, repetitive, etc – Dan Bron Apr 18 '16 at 2:40
  • 6
    How is building a wall not creative?? Certainly the wall is a creation, and more tangible than writing a novel. – Hot Licks Apr 18 '16 at 2:46
  • 3
    I mean it in a rudimentary sense. 'Designing' is creative; is 'building' not simply following orders? – OpenMind Apr 18 '16 at 2:49
  • 13
    Build a wall and let me know. – Hot Licks Apr 18 '16 at 3:22
  • 5
    @MichaelJ. Just because all the other answers gave negative terms implying mindlessness for this, doesn't mean there aren't non-negative terms for this... I offered one, "procedural", which is widely used especially in medicine for rigid "must be done right each time" tasks. – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 18 '16 at 15:58

15 Answers 15

23

I would suggest the word "menial". I assume you're trying to draw a contrast between the use of higher and lower function. However, building a wall is not as menial as cleaning. Perhaps you should consider changing that piece of your sentence.

menialMW

noun: used to describe boring or unpleasant work that does not require special skill and usually does not pay much money

adjective: lacking interest or dignity (a menial task)

"More Effort" is good for menial tasks, but not when it comes to creative tasks.

  • 1
    Or perhaps your word is not well-suited... – ringo Apr 18 '16 at 3:28
  • This is the word I tried to think of, but I kept thinking of remedial. – Mazura Apr 18 '16 at 4:29
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    Why do almost all the answers assume it must be a negative quality? "Menial" wouldn't suit countless non-creative but non-menial skilled, high-focus/high-function tasks where a procedure is followed, from anaesthetising a patient to landing an aeroplane to, well, like in the asker's example, bricklaying (which is a high-skill task). – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 18 '16 at 16:04
  • 2
    @medica When someone asks a question you shouldn't tell them to change it so your answer works better. – ringo Apr 18 '16 at 16:04
  • 1
    @ringo if that was the consensus opinion the answer would've been down voted more than it has – Insane Apr 19 '16 at 2:09
16

Rote

  1. routine; a fixed, habitual, or mechanical course of procedure: the rote of daily living.
  2. proceeding mechanically and repetitiously; being mechanical and repetitious in nature; routine; habitual: rote performance; rote implementation;
  • The best answer. – Fattie Apr 19 '16 at 12:32
  • Actually it's possible "mechanical" is the best answer, but "rote" is equally ideal. – Fattie Apr 19 '16 at 12:35
13

Almost all the existing answers have a negative connotation, and imply the non-creative tasks are unskilled or aren't respect-worthy.

This doesn't suit many highly skilled non-creative tasks, from bricklaying (in the asker's example, a highly skilled trade) to landing a plane or anaesthetising a patient. Here's an answer that works for non-creative tasks of all skill levels.

Procedural tasks

Example from Indiana University content:

A procedural task involves performing a procedure, which is a sequence of activities to achieve a goal.

The difference between creative, procedural and declarative aptitudes and knowledge is quite an important one in education research and applied psychology. Here's an example:

I like Bill Butts and I cannot lie

These are tasks that use "how-to" procedural knowledge:

Procedural knowledge, also known as imperative knowledge, is the knowledge exercised in the performance of some task

...which isn't limited to "grunt work", but also includes things like, for example, performing the core procedures involved in a certain type of surgery correctly each time. Much like the asker's example sentence, much education research around learning procedural skills does emphasise the importance of repetition and focussed effort, for example in the context of medical training:

Evaluating clinical simulations for learning procedural skills... (1) Simulations should allow for sustained, deliberate practice within a safe environment, ensuring that recently-acquired skills are consolidated...

  • By far the best answer so far. Its only drawback is that procedural task is quite jargony and would likely not be (fully) understood by the average reader of a non-technical text. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 19 '16 at 0:21
6

A slang term for this is grunt work.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/grunt-work

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=grunt+work

  • 3
    Please paste the definitions into the answer itself, and rely on sources other than urbandictonary. – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Apr 18 '16 at 11:08
  • 2
    "Grunt work" implies unskilled, which is not suggested in the question. Bricklaying in particular is a skilled trade requiring quite a lot of vocational training. – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 18 '16 at 16:12
  • @user568458, I write software for a living, and a large part of my job is grunt work, even though that's still skilled work. It's just stuff that needs to be done but doesn't take much creativity. "Grunt work" is the term we use among ourselves where I work, in fact. I do agree with you however that building as a whole is not grunt work, and I have much respect for the skill and creativity of builders. – dangph Apr 19 '16 at 0:55
5

One term that comes to mind is drudge-work:

work that is menial and tedious and therefore distasteful; drudgery.

5

A task that is non-creative, repetitive, and usually boring could be called a chore:

: a small job that is done regularly

: a dull, unpleasant, or difficult job or experience

[Merriam-Webster]

I feel this word is especially well-suited because it can even be used describe tasks that aren't typically thought of as chores when you want to say a task is boring or tedious.

Wall building is such a chore.

4

I think mundane or unimaginative is more appropriate here.

Menial always carries a tone of doing something that is less dignified, and I think there is nothing necessarily menial about cleaning your room.

1

If the question remains task focused scut work trivial, unrewarding, tedious, dirty, and disagreeable chores

If it changes as Phil Sweet suggests perhaps disengagement the act of releasing from an attachment or connection

1

mechanical

1 a (1) : of or relating to machinery or tools (2) : produced or operated by a machine or tool b : of or relating to manual operations

2 : of or relating to artisans or machinists

3 a : done as if by machine : seemingly uninfluenced by the mind or emotions : automatic b : of or relating to technicalities or petty matters

4 a : relating to, governed by, or in accordance with the principles of mechanics b : relating to the quantitative relations of force and matter

5 : caused by, resulting from, or relating to a process that involves a purely physical as opposed to a chemical or biological change or process http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mechanical

  • "mechanical" is the best and clearest answer here. – Fattie Apr 19 '16 at 12:33
1

I'll go with, uncreative

Beauvoir describes woman's situation as contributing to a life of repetitive and uncreative tasks: washing dishes, changing diapers, making food. While these tasks provide the means to an authentic life, they do not constitute creative ends themselves.

Ethics and Phenomenology

uncreative

Not having or involving imagination or original ideas: repetitive and uncreative work

Oxford Dictionaries

1

A word which may at least connote what you desire yet whose usage is anything but "everyday, commonplace, or ordinary" would be quotidian.

1

Routinary or mechanical

routinary adjective Characterized by an adherence to routine; of or relating to routine; mechanical, unvaried; (of a person) that acts according to routine.

mechanical adjective (Of an action) done without thought or spontaneity; automatic: she stopped the mechanical brushing of her hair

  • "mechanical" is the best and clearest answer here. – Fattie Apr 19 '16 at 12:33
0

That would be in the zone. It's not necessarily as casual a term as you might suspect.

informal
If you are in the zone, you are ​happy or ​excited because you are doing something very ​skilfully and ​easily.

Cambridge Dictionaries online

Flow

Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow.
Intense and focused concentration on the present moment.
Merging of action and awareness.
A loss of reflective self-consciousness.
A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity.
A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

  • If your comment to the OP is accepted the flow part of your answer is likely on the money – Icy Apr 18 '16 at 4:05
0

The word servile is used by the Catholic Church to distinguish between intellectual/creative pursuits and manual/non-creative tasks. I do not know if other churches use similar terminology when describing how to "Honor the Sabbath"

In everyday usage, though, "servile" does seem to carry a negative conmnotation, but from your example:

"More Effort" is good for servile tasks, like building a wall or cleaning your room

  • The linked definitions all strongly imply servitude. Creative work could therefore also be "servile" if it's requested or demanded - in fact, many commercial artists feel more like slaves than artists, even though their work is obviously highly creative. – talrnu Apr 19 '16 at 14:11
0

Some of the other answers come close, but I'd like to suggest

routine

Unlike some of the other suggestions, there is no negative connotation of a routine task per se.

  • 'Routine' implies regularity, not necessarily a lack of creativity. A creative task could be just as routine as one requiring no creativity, even if the result is different every time. – talrnu Apr 19 '16 at 14:08

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