How to be Productive When You Are Truly Lazy

There is one or two issues that I am facing that I feel need some work. As I have mentioned before, I don’t really know where I am going, this is what I hope to discover as time goes by and I learn new things. More importantly perhaps, is that I am inherently lazy. This is something my mother has pointed out numerous times, this is something that my girlfriend now points out as well, but most of all it is something that I know is 100% true. I have to actively force myself to take action most of the time, maintaining motivation is, and always has been, a struggle. So it does beg the question, how can you be productive when you are lazy?

I have done a lot of soul-searching and looked at certain aspects of my life to try to understand myself better and a lot of this boils down to perceptions of what is important and what stimulates your mind. As with many things, tricking your mind into thinking the way that you want it to work is often the solution.

Let me give you an example of how my mind works in its unmotivated state. I currently work in a sales role, the more work I do, the more clients I see, the more opportunities I get to make more money. I have worked in a similar role for 6 years. I am very good at my job, I have a great relationship with my clients, they trust me, they respect my knowledge and opinion and walk away from our meetings with a clear picture of what had previously been a complicated issue for them.

If I felt so inclined, I could see more people during the day and it wouldn’t affect my ability to provide a good service. This would lead to more money for yours truly. So why, you might ask, am I not writing this from my own private island in the sun, sipping long island iced teas and waiting for my personal chef to come along and present my evening menu? It is because I am not interested in the subject. I am actively foregoing income so that I don’t have to work so hard because the work I am doing does not flick my switch. Now, a lot of people reading that statement will be saying things along the lines of “you should quit” or “why don’t you work harder for the money and then use it to do the things you like” but people saying these things are probably not lazy people. Lazy people will be saying, yeah, I do that too.

Now this is how my laziness affects my work life in my employed role, the problem is that it is infectious and can spread to the rest of your life very easily. If I wasn’t lazy, the washing up would get done quicker, my clothes would be tidied away every night instead of being in my “I’ll use it again soon” pile and that stack of stuff I have been meaning to Ebay for the last two months would be currently cluttering up someone elses’ house. The irony of me writing this post as one of my first on my pro-active, get a better life blog, is not lost on me, writing it is a cathartic process and is, to me, a symbol of my dedication to overcome my own self to succeed in this. In other words, my mind has decided that it is interested in this and therefore I am determined to finish it.

So how do we break the cycle? Recognising the issue first of all is most important, the reality is I am lazy with stuff that I don’t find interesting,
however if I decide that I really want to organise my wardrobe, I will work
harder than you could imagine until it is done, then walk straight past the boring old washing up to get a drink before attacking my sock drawer with gusto. Just how clean was your room when you were studying for your exams? How many times did you rearrange your furniture? You know what I am talking about….

Making a commitment to change in an area you know you are weak is important, but probably more so is making sure that there is a reason
for this, a goal set to achieve that is dependent on you making that change.
This could be something tangible, by committing to seeing three more clients
per week I could take home an extra £900 per month, that is nearly £11k per
year. I could use these funds to buy my camper to go around Europe in and tick
it off my list. Conversely the rewards could be intangible, how many people
wish they had more time? Do they need more time or do they just need to make
better use of the time that they already have but fritter away on Facebook or
angry birds pretending that they are busy? You can apply this kind of thinking
to a number of different roles and projects and it is really simple stuff, but
ultimately, it is either going to save you time or make you money.

By doing 30 minutes of housework before I sit down at night I appear to be a great boyfriend (tonnes of benefits) and the house is cleaner meaning that my weekends are clear for whatever I want to do, it is a domestic opportunity cost I guess.

So by isolating the potential benefit or the opportunity cost of inaction, I cajole myself into most actions. Goal setting is something that everyone does, but by giving the goals relevance and working towards them you essentially challenge your lazy instincts.

Lists. I love lists, but I fall into the trap of constantly making lists and never actioning them, or only actioning parts of them because I forget where I made the list or what was important because I have gotten side-tracked by a lesser, but more exciting, item that cropped up while I was writing it. Quite often I will be writing a list on one topic and will suddenly think of something completely irrelevant that I need to do, the number of times “digitise my DVD collection” has turned up in lists of things I need to get done is unbelievable! There are a number of approaches to lists and I guess that what works for one won’t necessarily work for another but my key things are:

Prioritise things into must get done today, must get done this week and nice to get dones, that way I shouldn’t be missing deadlines or anything important and might get some ad hoc things done each week that I wasn’t necessarily expecting to do.

Booking time in your schedule for things is also important. I currently need to sort out an issue with a tenant, if I don’t book a 30 minute slot in my diary to do this, it will get left for a few days, this is despite the fact that I will have more than enough time to deal with it today, tomorrow or the next day.

I have been reading Getting Things Done by David Allen who speaks about having collection buckets for items that need to be cleared regularly, but by having these devices you get all of the tasks out of your head, put into actionable processes and timescales are put on them. That way, your head should be clear for whatever you are doing at that given time and automatically you will become more efficient and productive. I am keen to adopt more of this kind of personal organisation as with my job, blogging and everything else that life demands, I know that my lazy streak is going to be a major obstacle that I need to overcome to keep this blog going. I carry my moleskin everywhere I go now so that I always have access to my list for ticking things off or adding things to it, it also means that I know where the damn things are.

I plan to write more on personal productivity as I get better at it and when I can be bothered……

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