The Unexpected Gift of Manual Labour

by | Jan 17, 2021 | Learning

manual labour

Growing up on a farm that grew plants taught me many things. One is the joy of manual labour. Not just the joy of seeing progress after an hour or day of work. But also the joy of how manual labour busies the mind enough to allow the unconscious to work too. The unconscious percolates behind the scenes working through various challenges. Sometimes so much so that we end up in a bit of ‘trance’ so that when another person approaches, we jump in surprise.

I find the same happens when I do jigsaw puzzles or go for a run/walk or work in the garden. Anything that sucks me in requiring me to engage in the activity but not requiring certain parts of my brain.

This space, this processing, is a break. It gives us space to process. And we often fail to have enough or any of it. To solve complex challenges, our unconscious needs this space, this time.

The break helps us ‘see’ differently. See the different pieces or how they fit together. In many ways we need to work on a challenge without working on it. And for me, ‘busying’ myself with manual labour tasks, physical ones, is often the best way to do this.

Photo by Abby Savage


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