Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Type 2 Work vs. Type 3 Work

I try to simplify the world and put work into one of three categories: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.

Type 1 work is the secret sauce. It's the really important, impactful work that we have down pat. It's work that both creates a lot of value and is also fined-tuned and masterfully executed. In its purest form, it looks easy to others and feels effortless. This is where we want to be.

Type 2 work is the chaos. It's the fire drills, the last-minute deadlines, the grind. It's the work that makes you feel like you're in a blender, listening to a yodeling, off-key, death metal band. At it's worst, this work is value-depleting and is extremely time consuming. This is precisely where we don't want to be.

Type 3 work is the gift to our future selves. It's the labor that converts Type 2 work into Type 1 work. It's the sleeves-rolled-up slog where we finally fix what's broken or cut something not worth saving. At its best, it feels like the gleeful soreness of our limbs after an amazing workout. This is where we want to be more than we are.

I don't know exactly what the right or realistic balance between these three modes are. But I've learned two things, the hard way.

First, we never do as much Type 3 work as we want or need to. Second, the only way to find time for Type 3 work is to make it, and then fight like hell to protect it.

Doing Type 3 work requires saying no to Type 2 work, even if there are consequences. On the bright side,  in my experience the consequences usually seem worse in my head than they actually are in real life.