I can be very lazy. If left to my own devices, I would gladly spend a whole day laying on the couch, alternating between reading a book and watching every episode of @Midnight onDemand. I’d let my hair and the lawn grow, I’d let the dishes pile up in the sink.
Well, maybe not the last one. I have a thing about dishes.
My point is that we all – and here I mean ‘we’ to be anyone who is not at least part robot – like homeostasis. We like ease. We like lazy. Lazy is good. Lazy is a warm blanket on a cold night. Lazy is a beer when you should be exercising, a nap when you should be writing. To Steven Pressfield, lazy, like fear, is Resistance.
And as much as we would all like to succumb, we can’t. Life gets in the way of lazy. Aspirations get in the way of lazy. In order to do the things we want, in order to be, do and have the things we desire, we must find ways to overcome lazy.
Lazy is an enemy with an uphill position. Lazy is a heavyweight and work is a flyweight. Lazy has the upper hand.
Some people think the best way to beat lazy is to think and act big. They can be focused enough to overcome lazy the moment they wake up. I am not one of those people. I have to trick myself into beating lazy. I have to fool myself into taking the hill and knocking out Tyson. I have to take tiny steps to climb the mountain.
I’m not always successful, but I’m learning ways to get myself going. I’ve developed some small techniques for beating lazy and they all look a little like manageable tasks.
I once read that the best thing a person can do to set the tone for a successful day is to make the bed as soon as you get up. It takes a minute. It’s an easy win. Unfortunately for me, my wife is usually in the bed when I wake up. Making it then might cause some, uh, tension. So I need another quick win. For me, it’s my journal and this blog. Combined, they take less than a half hour to complete.
I try to find little wins throughout the day to keep me off the lazy train. Coming back after a lunch break or a long meeting is a killer. I’m sapped. I lack all motivation. That’s usually when I tackle e-mails. Fifteen minutes to catch up on the ones I’ve flagged or the ones I’ve meant to send.
Late in the day, that 3 o’clock feeling, time to take a walk and read for 15 minutes or do my language lessons.
Later in the evening, when I just want to do nothing, I’ll save one thing to end the day as strong as I started.
The point is not to confuse productivity with business. It is to pace out small wins throughout the day to allow yourself to be productive consistently. I have a regular set of tasks, but you might think about spacing out your to-do list, giving yourself something to check off as soon as you get up, something mid-day, something later on. The point is not that these things get done, but that doing them gets you moving enough to build momentum.
There’s irony in the fact that it is often in our lazy moments when we dream, but it is lazy that kills those very dreams. Design some small wins every day and make them happen. It might just be the difference in turning a ‘want-to’ into a ‘did.’