“Ever since the beginning of the industrial era, we have known both the benefits and the drawbacks of dividing jobs into ever smaller and more tedious ones. Riches must be balanced against boredom and misery. But as long as a boring job retains an element of physicality, one can find a rhythm, entering a ‘flow’ state wherein time passes easily and the hard labour is followed by a sense of accomplishment. In Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur (1962) there is a marvellous description of Neal Cassady working like a demon, changing tyres in a tyre shop and finding himself uplifted rather than diminished by the work. Industrialism tends toward monopathy because of the growth of divided labour, but it is only when the physical element is removed that the real problems begin. When the body remains still and the mind is forced to do something repetitive, the human inside us rebels.” 
“Karl Bücher’s well-known compilation of rhythmic labor songs in 1897 (Arbeit und Rhythmus [Labor and Rhythm] [6th ed.; 1924]) has been followed by a voluminous literature of a more scientific nature. One of the best of these studies (Joseph Schopp, Das deutsche Arbeitslied [The German Labor Song] ) stresses that there exist only labor songs, but no work songs. The songs of the craftsmen are social; they are sung after work. The fact is, of course, that there exists no ‘natural’ rhythm for work. The striking resemblance between the ‘natural’ rhythm inherent in every laboring operation and the rhythm of the machines is sometimes noticed, apart from the repeated complaints about the ‘artificial’ rhythm which the machines impose upon the laborer. Such complaints, characteristically, are relatively rare among the laborers themselves, who, on the contrary, seem to find the same amount of pleasure in repetitive machine work as in other repetitive labor [citation]. This confirms observations which were already made in the Ford factories at the beginning of [the 20th] century. Karl Bücher, who believed that ‘rhythmic labor is highly spiritual labor’ (vergeistigt), already stated: “Aufreibend werden nur solche einförmigen Arbeiten, die sich nicht rhythmisch gestalten lassen’ ["Only monotonous labor that cannot be done rhythmically is stressful"] (op. cit., p. 433). For though the speed of machine work undoubtedly is much higher and more repetitive than that of ‘natural’ spontaneous labor, the fact of a rhythmic performance as such makes that machine labor and pre-industrial labor have more in common with each other than either of them has with work. . . .
“All these theories appear highly questionable in view of the fact that the workers themselves give an altogether different reason for their preference for repetitive labor. They prefer it because it is mechanical and does not demand attention, so that while performing it they can think of something else (They can ‘geistig wegtreten’ ["mentally step away"], as Berlin workers formulated it. See Thielicke and Pentzlin, Mensch und Arbeit im technischen Zeitalter: Zum Problem der Rationalisierung [People and Work in the Age of Technology: The Problem of Rationalization] , pp. 35 ff., who also report that according to an investigation of the Max Planck Institute für Arbeitspsychologie, about 90 per cent of the workers prefer monotonous tasks.) This explanation is all the more noteworthy, as it coincides with very early Christian recommendations of the merits of manual labor, which, because it demands less attention, is less likely to interfere with contemplation than other occupations and professions (see Étienne Delaruelle, “Le travail dans les règles monastiques occidentales du 4e au 9e siècle” ["Work in the Western Monastic Rules from the 4th to the 9th Centuries"], Journal de psychologie normale et pathologique, Vol. XLI, No. 1 ).” 
“Great labour, either of mind or body, continued for several days together, is in most men naturally followed by a great desire of relaxation, which, if not restrained by force or by some strong necessity, is almost irresistible. It is the call of nature, which requires to be relieved by some indulgence, sometimes of ease only, but sometimes too of dissipation and diversion. If it is not complied with, the consequences are often dangerous, and sometimes fatal, and such as almost always, sooner or later, bring on the peculiar infirmity of the trade. If masters would always listen to the dictates of reason and humanity, they have frequently occasion rather to moderate, than to animate the application of many of their workmen. It will be found, I believe, in every sort of trade, that the man who works so moderately, as to be able to work constantly, not only preserves his health the longest, but, in the course of the year, executes the greatest quantity of work.” 
 Robert Twigger, “Master of many trades,” in Aeon Magazine, November 4, 2013.
 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed., 1998), pp. 145–146, footnote 8. The translations are my own best guesses, with the help of Google Translate. Keep in mind that Arendt distinguishes between “labor” and “work”: “Labor is the activity which corresponds to the biological process of the human body, whose spontaneous growth, metabolism, and eventual decay are bound to the vital necessities produced and fed into the life process by labor. The human condition of labor is life itself. [¶] Work is the activity which corresponds to the unnaturalness of human existence, which is not imbedded in, and whose mortality is not compensated by, the species’ ever-recurring life cycle. Work provides an ‘artificial’ world of things, distinctly different from all natural surroundings. Within its borders each individual life is housed, while this world itself is meant to outlast and transcend them all. The human condition of work is worldliness.” (Id. at page 7.)
 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter VIII (Modern Library 1994) p. 94.