It may seem counter-intuitive to most (though, hopefully not to the readers of this site!) but laziness is a great way to get stuff done. Taking it easy is one of the best ways to get into the mood to get stuff done. When you’re stressed out about a given problem, when you’re worrying about the mortgage and how best to pay it, when you’re puzzled about your significant other’s actions and it’s all you can think about here’s what the Cool Kids these days call a pro-tip:
Stop thinking about it.
Give your mind a break and just stop doing whatever you’re doing that is causing you such a headache. Is that harder to say than to actually do? Absolutely. Being lazy isn’t as easy as some of us would like but it is an available option and it’s a damn fine one in my opinion. Why is it such a good idea though? What exactly does doing nothing…do?
First off, think about a time that you’ve lost something. Or forget something. Or you’re just really occupied by a given thought. Think about that…er…don’t think about it for too long now!
Odds are what helped you wasn’t constantly thinking about it, racking your head around it till you felt like your head was going to fall off from the self-induced headache. No, it was probably solved (I say probably, there are of course exceptions) by giving yourself a minute (or maybe much more) and just stopping to think about something else. Or maybe you laid down for a while, or you went for a walk, or you had a lovely conversation with a friend or lover. Whatever. The point is that you went and did something else (which may have included nothing at all or nothing much to speak of).
And then eureka!
The thought strikes you like lightening and all of a sudden the world looks very different and your perspective comes from a different angle and then wham, bam and thank you mam you’ve got it! It all comes back to you, the solution hits you, the thing you forgot comes into your head as quickly as it had left it. And what is that thanks to?The lack of effort you put into it.
Because up to a certain point there is such a thing as a disutility of labor (I know this is very shocking for many people but it’s true, even Austrian economists recognize this) which means that the effort you put in takes away more than it gives. You stop benefiting from all of the planning, thinking and racking your head that you’re doing and your head starts to hurt, you begin to get really frustrated, say foolish things (or do foolish things) and so on.
You make yourself look silly and would it be so out of bounds for a concerned friend to recommend you to take a break from whatever frustrating thing you’re putting yourself through?
It’s helpful to remember that although a lot of us who may like a site like this are critical of the wage system, the boss-worker relation and (thankfully) the nature of work itself (AKA its monotony, the way it skills or deskills you and so on) should also be critical of ourselves and our inner Cotton Mather . We all have a voice in our heads that tells us to work harder, to drive towards our goals even if they go against our values or interests and tells us we should do better even when we’ve reached our limits. Keep in mind I am not telling you to dismiss this voice out of hand. There’s nothing really wrong with having goals and working towards them at your own pace that makes you happy. I’m not sure that the voice and the latter thing are the same, but let’s presume for now.
But sometimes people make themselves so miserable about the journey that the goal eventually seems like it wouldn’t be worth it. That’s not a hard and fast rule by any means but generally speaking if the journey is miserably, really difficult and is making you generally unhappy then I tend to think it’s never a bad idea to at least be self-critical. Ask yourself the tough questions. Is the goal still worth it? Should I keep my journey going like it is? Is there another way? Would it be so awful if I just stopped entirely, at least for a little bit?
All I am saying is that that’s not necessarily always going to be a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a good idea to shut down your inner Cotton Mather, give yourself a break and just relax a bit. Focus on another thing or better yet focus on nothing at all.
Make your time your own, reclaim as much of your life for your own purposes as possible. Make the pleasures you get in yours as much as you can so that they become as repeatable as is comfortable for you. Do what you have to to reclaim your body, your autonomy and your self-direction. Whether that means laying down and staring at the stars, taking a nap, having an easy-going conversation with friends, lazily watching a video, meditating, listening to peaceful music (or heavy music if that’s more your thing). Whatever it means, make it yours and try to keep it there whenever possible.
Now, is laziness always going to work?
Probably not, unfortunately.
If it’s an emergency, if things are time-sensitive if something is just getting at you too much then yeah, sometimes it is a good idea to tackle it now rather than later. It may help you relax and prepare for nothing later on or sooner rather than later. So I’m not saying we should always just stop doing what we are doing all of the time. Stress, effort, energy and so on aren’t inherent evils to me but they’re things to be used sparingly, smartly and not inefficiently whenever possible.
That way we have way more time to make us of our times…ya know, by doing nothing.