I was supposed to get this article published on Monday, but didn’t manage to finish it before midnight. Instead I just read some articles, listened to some discussions on ClubHouse and slowly started writing. It’s not very usual for me in last half a year to take things easy and become lazy whenever I feel like it. That’s when questioning kicked in. Why is laziness seen as evil?! Is it really a bad thing to be lazy?!
Productivity is one ultimate goal for people in the pursuit of self-development. Tons of resources, tools, frameworks, and apps are available and promoted to help us become more productive. I presented some productivity techniques to over 300 colleagues at Daimler and the most common feedback I received was how to start. We’ve all initiated the process of being productive with the intention of having long-term development routine . However, I guess, we plan too much and when we do not keep up with it, we give up at once. Moreover, productivity can overload our brain. Feeling tired, burning out, getting headaches and losing the motivation are seen as a common symptoms of this overload.
“It cultivated the arts and discovered the sciences; it wrote the books, invented the philosophies, and refined social relations. Even the liberation of the oppressed has usually been inaugurated from above. Without the leisure class, mankind would never have emerged from barbarism.”Bertrand Russell
Laziness might have been written into our genes and become part of our evolutionary progress. The ancestors of ours had to conserve energy to be fit for hunting, fleeing predators and fighting the enemies. Compared to those times where we had to fight for our survival, nowadays we have enough resources and frameworks to plan for long-term vision and commitment to get the best outcomes. We build our careers and trade off much of our short-term leisure for the future unknown rewards. Although work is one part of life, we also have a desire to to socialize, form relationships, and act according to what we wish spontaneously. We should not feel guilty to want to relax, to leisure, or just chill with no plan or thinking required. For instance, meditation is all about doing nothing. Doing nothing or letting your mind wander with no fixed trajectory helps to observe life, gather inspiration, reduce stress, let noise eliminate itself and retrieve more energy.
‘Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.’Robert Heinlein
Laziness also helps us to redirect our focus on what is important and find the simplest solution to complex-looking problems. Interestingly, doing things with lazy mood can become the most productive activity. I’d rather finish three most important tasks as quickly as possible and go for a walk than work my day off on ten trivial tasks. With the COVID lockdown, work-life balance got mixed up quite significantly. Work hours and working location is at its most flexible form ever. The purpose is to finish your work, keep up with the promises and deliver quality value to your stakeholders. Do it in whatever form, whichever location and whenever you want. Spending too much time on problems with no understanding is not productive. Let’s take an abstract example: 200!-200! =? How should we calculate it? The hard way would be calculating 200! twice and subtract them. Smart way would be to put it in the calculator and get the result directly. The lazy way is to see that they are the same value so their subtraction should be equal to 0. Most of our problems usually require just seeing and understanding it properly, then the simple solutions do pop up when you cultivate some laziness and outcome-oriented drive in you.
It’s hard to choose sides. Laziness is accepted as a bad trait, whereas productivity is promoted everywhere. But we just saw that laziness is such a quite powerful tool if used properly. You see, it is a tool, like productivity, to help us to reach our purposes, goals or vision. Both laziness and productivity is there and each day we may see any of them, if not both, appearing in front of us. We just need to find our optimal spot, behavior and attitude in each situation to maximize the reward we set to extract from the effort we put.