You’ve probably heard countless times that being lazy is a bad thing. “You should work more”, “you’re not doing enough”, “you can sleep when you’re dead”.
Today I’d like to share five reasons why laziness can be great — not just in your personal life, but when it comes to studying and working as well.
Before we dive in, let me be clear about one thing:
if you watch TV for five hours a day; if fast food is your only source of calories; if you literally do nothing all day, yes, that’s being lazy, but that’s not what I’m referring to. These are very unhealthy habits, and they won’t make you happier — if anything they’ll probably make you depressed.
What I am referring to is having a different approach when it comes to using your time. We all know time is limited, so we must make the most of it. Let’s have a look at the first reason to find out more.
1. Laziness makes you efficient
When you are working, your goal is to be productive and efficient, not “busy”. The world is full of people who are busy yet don’t accomplish much.
Think of workaholics. These are the kind of sleep-deprived, caffeine-fueled people who are in front of a computer screen fourteen hours a day. Most of them actually aren’t better than their colleagues. They just work, work, work, then work some more. They are busy for the sake of being busy.
If you are an entrepreneur, and you’re working on a big project; if you are passionate about your job; if you are going all in on a new challenge; if you want to learn a new skill ASAP, then it’s perfectly fine to work long hours — you may even have no other option in the beginning.
Otherwise, you’re probably just wasting your time.
Again, our time (and our energy) is limited, so we need to use it wisely. The best way to do this is to focus on what’s truly important, and forget about the tasks that don’t yield significant results. In other words, we need to prioritize.
If you find it hard to identify which tasks you should be focusing on, try and imagine that, from today onward, you’ll only be allowed to work a fourth of the time you have been working so far. For example, if you are working on a project for roughly an hour a day, imagine that from today you’ll only be able to work for fifteen minutes a day. What would you do differently?
Whatever your goal is, you know how much time and effort it requires, realistically. Perhaps you are already prioritizing, and you’ve already eliminated the tasks that were too time-consuming and not very useful. If that’s the case, that’s great.
But I guarantee: for most people, taking the time to assess what’s important, and what isn’t (or what could be delegated) would lead to less stress and more productivity.
I have only talked about work so far, but this applies to any area of your life, including health, relationships, and even enjoying time off.
2. Laziness helps you say no
Do you have a hard time saying no to people? Are you dealing with too many energy vampires? Do you feel guilty if you don’t always catch up with social media?
Then you should definitely be lazier.
The examples I mentioned are good enough reasons to, once again, evaluate what you are spending your time on. You don’t want your life to be filled with other people’s drama, the latest Facebook posts, or the most depressing news.
However the true value of being able to say no isn’t in the short term. It’s about being aware of your purpose, your path here on this planet.
You have to get clean on what you want, but also what you don’t want; what you like, but also what you dislike; what you truly excel at, and what’s not for you.
If you decide that you don’t want unnecessary stress and anxiety, then the career path that pays more, but requires being available 24/7, and is likely to burn you out, isn’t going to appeal to you — no matter how many times you’ve been told it’d be a great opportunity.
If you’re 100% certain that you don’t like being around fake people, you will choose new friends carefully, even if you feel lonely, or you have just moved to a new place, and you don’t know anyone.
So what does laziness have to do with this?
Well, sooner or later someone will call you lazy for simply being yourself. So unless you are aware of your values, self doubt will kick in.
In the two examples I just mentioned, turning down a job offer, or refusing to engage with everyone around you, may be interpreted as being unmotivated. Some will think that you are a slacker. Some will label you as “unproductive”.
So again, don’t be afraid of being yourself, and don’t be afraid of being lazy. Not everyone will be able to understand your choices, and that’s OK.
3. Laziness helps you slow down
In a society that glorifies being busy, one may think that being faster is always a good thing. But it’s not.
The main reason so many people get stuck in the rat race, and live meaningless lives, is that everything they do is fast-paced. Everything. Waking up, brushing their teeth, commuting, checking their phone, eating, shopping, you name it.
But what are the results of doing everything so quickly?
- You tend to do things on autopilot
- You are more likely to suffer from anxiety
- You tend to multitask, which decreases productivity
- You make more mistakes
- You become less creative, and you lose focus
- You enjoy things less
- You tend to focus on quantity instead of quality
There’s things we don’t want to waste too much time on; some of them are just very mechanical, so finding ways to do them faster is perfectly fine.
But in general, it’s important to take your time. This is particularly true when it comes to our hobbies and things we enjoy doing. You wouldn’t even consider having dinner with your friends for just ten minutes. Similarly, you wouldn’t watch your favorite movie, or read your favorite book, if you only had “a couple minutes left before leaving the house”.
Being a little lazier can help you slow down… and live better.
4. Laziness can be healthy
I want to make this clear one more time: if you suffer from depression and struggle to get out of bed, or if your energy levels are constantly low, there’s nothing healthy about it, and you should seek help.
Having said that, laziness can definitely improve your wellbeing.
First of all, if you care about your mental, physical, and spiritual health, you want to make sure you sleep a lot.
Countless studies have been done on sleep, so there’s a lot of different opinions out there. Some say we should sleep as much as possible. Some say eight hours are more than enough. There’s also different opinions on whether taking naps is good or not, or the benefits of being an early bird rather than a night person.
We’re all different, so listen to your body and find out what works best for you. But there’s one thing that’s undeniable: lack of sleep is terrible for your health — again, physically and mentally. Someone who believes sleep is a “waste of time” may as well stop eating, or showering.
So if you haven’t already, make sure you make sleep an absolute priority. If you suffer from insomnia, you can have a look at this article for some useful tips.
Besides sleep, it’s important to relax. This could mean getting a massage, meditating, performing breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, or even watching a movie. Just like we are unable to stay awake if we haven’t slept, we can’t perform at our best if we don’t take the time to relax.
It’s also important to develop your creativity. You don’t have to be Michelangelo: just do something that allows you to express your thoughts and emotions. If you like writing, consider starting a journal, and make it a daily habit.
5. Laziness gives you superpowers
When you are calmer, your brain functions better.
Our best intuitions, our most creative and original thoughts come to us when we are in a relaxed state, and we are not working. The most common example of this is when we are about to fall asleep: our body is still, and our room is dark and quiet.
As we gradually stop thinking of all the tasks we’re supposed to do, and begin to relax our body, our brain waves literally change: we go from Beta to Alpha brain waves.
This happens not only before sleep, but also during meditation, when we rest after a workout, or slowly walking in nature.
As long as you are busy 24/7, you will never have the time to change your mental state. On the other hand, laziness helps you become more contemplative, and introspective. This, in turn, will help you generate clearer thoughts.
A famous quote attributed to Einstein states that you cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. In order to come up with original solutions, and potentially life-changing intuitions, the mind has to alter its state — and this is only possible when it slows down.
Surprisingly, most people find it incredibly difficult to be in this state when they are awake: when meditating, or doing nothing in particular, they get too bored and feel the need to go back to a Beta state.
If that’s you, I encourage you to be a little lazier, without feeling guilty about it: take more time to relax, and your mind will come up with new ideas. You will then be able to apply these ideas in any area of your life.