Personal Productivity

Being Lazy Can Be Productive

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
tags Focus Science
"You could say I was too lazy to calculate, so I invented the computer." ~ Konrad Zuse

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Being Lazy Can Be Productive

If you are one of those who every morning faces thousands of emails asking you to do things you don’t want to do and imposing new problems that now you need to solve, and I tell you that being lazy will help you work better, you’ll think I’m crazy or that this is a kind of trick message.

Well, it isn’t. Ironically, it turns out that laziness is essential for our brain to be able to perform a good job. Naturally, I’m talking about what’s been called deep work, since the shallow work, although necessary and very time consuming, doesn’t require an important cognitive effort.

The longer you spend doing shallow work, the more of it you’ll get done.

However, it’s different with deep work, where the amount of time spent does not have to be reflected in more work done.

If you want to be productive where it really matters, that is to say, on tasks that bring significant value to you life, you need to include laziness as part of your work strategy. You should add to your daily routine a few moments of total mental freedom, meaning, moments in which you aren’t concerned about anything work related.

It would be ideal for you to be able to retire every day for a while somewhere you could disconnect, entertain yourself doings things you enjoy, and not be bothered by anyone. If you don’t have that place, the easiest way to achieve that mindset is to establish a time of the day from which you will switch off completely from work, and will not do anything or think about anything related to it till next morning. Your mind must be totally free.

There are a couple of reasons why a daily total shutdown can improve your odds to generate more valuable results:

  • Downtime can help you better understand certain things. In this study they found that some decisions, those which need a great deal of vague information or have conflicting restrictions, are best taken the less you work actively on them, meaning, letting our subconscious do the work on their own (Unconscious Thought Theory)
  • Downtime helps you recover the energy needed to perform deep work. The Attention Restoration Theory claims that spending time in nature improves our concentration skills, but in general, any rest you give to your attention will help to recover it, since it is a resource that runs out with the use.
  • The work you would do if you didn’t rest wouldn’t be that important. Due to the fact that your daily capacity of doing deep work is limited, by night you’ve probably done most of the accomplishable work.

If part of your work requires depth, that is, you create things, think, invent, design, code, write, analyze, solve problems, etc., establish a shutdown time and commit to stop doing anything from work (and stop thinking about it too) from that moment. Listen to me, you need to be lazier.

Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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