Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to someone about my blog. “Why productivity?” she asked. And my answer astonished her.
“Because I am lazy.”
Merriam Webster’s defines “lazy” as “disinclined to activity or exertion”.
I am not universally lazy. Just in doing the things that don’t hold my interest. Like dishes. Or laundry. Or scrubbing the grout in the bathroom. Or little things like that which need to be done.
I am also lazy when it comes time to do things I see no point in. Figuring out the latest social media du jour. Or participating in Facebook. Or reading technical manuals that are verbose and vague.
How I Differ From Many Productivity Experts
Almost all of the productivity books I have read have a recommendation for these types of tasks. I’m talking David Allen, Tim Ferris, and Leo Babauta, to name a few. These are tasks that give no payback, and which are really not a good use of skills, such as laundry, housework and other “menial” tasks.
The books say either don’t do them, or delegate them to someone else.
That might be fine and dandy for those authors. And I’m going to tick some people off here by pointing out that by far, these authors are all men, and these basic tasks are either taken care of by wives/significant others or housekeepers.
I don’t have a wife or housekeeper. My household during the week consists of a child, two cats, a dog and a fish. (Don’t ask me which one would be the best candidate for mopping the floors.) I’m certainly not going to hand my husband a mop the minute he walks in the door every weekend. (I hand him the lawn mower instead.) And I am not going to pay someone to handle my undergarments, in any state, clean or dirty.
Laundry, dishes and housecleaning must get done. I can’t just let them slide because they are not important to my goals, my long-term plans, or my daily productivity. Someone has to do them. And that someone is going to be me.
To a large extent this applies to my job, too. Don’t get me wrong…my job provides intellectual stimulation. I’m very good at what I do, and I’m very well compensated. Yet I work no more hours than I absolutely have to, because it is not my passion. And there is no way on earth that I am going to work more hours to pay for someone to do the routine tasks in my house.
So. I will step off the soapbox now.
My definition of productivity is very simple: do the tasks you have to do, no more and no less. Do them right, so you don’t have to do them over. And do them in the best and simplest way possible so that you are expending no more energy and time than absolutely necessary to do them.
It’s straightforward. Effective and efficient action to get the jobs done.
Laziness and Productivity
That sounds like laziness to me.
I don’t want to spend any more energy or time doing anything. I want that time and energy to do things that excite me and light me up.
So I am very disinclined to activities -at least the wrong ones. And I am very disinclined to exertion, particularly when it is needless.
So I study productivity to feed my laziness.
Why I Am Interesed In Productivity
It all boils down to those two words: effective and efficient.
Efficiency is doing things right. It means taking shortcuts when I can, but not at the cost of the final product. It means being on the lookout for new ways to do things, whether it is automating tasks, using new products, or simplifying things that have become too complicated. (You knew I would work simplicity into this somehow, didn’t you?)
Efficiency means not having to do things over. It means putting enough thought into what I am doing to make sure I am not wasting energy or time. It means making sure that my tools are appropriate and not overly complicated. Efficiency means doing things right the first time.
Effectiveness is doing the right things. It means determining what is truly important to getting a job done, and cutting out the rest. It means working on things that move my life and goals forward. It means learning to distinguish what is the true cake of the task, and what is the frosting. (I’m not a big fan of frosting…)
Effectiveness means not getting sidetracked. It means paying attention to what I am doing. It means monitoring the results I am getting and stopping a task when the payback no longer justifies the effort.
So the secret to my laziness and productivity? Doing the right things right.
What Laziness Gets Me
This “doing the right things right” is a goal. I still get sidetracked. I still have to re-do things. But in the long run, it makes me consider what I am doing and how I am doing it. And I don’t offload tasks just because they don’t further my long-term vision, because there is no one else to do them. I just do them quickly and correctly, and move on.
So I still maintain that laziness drives my productivity. I could take all day creating dinner or doing laundry, but I would rather get through these things so that I can get to the stuff that is higher-level.
What do you think? Can productivity be motivated by laziness? Share below.
Photo by @boetter. Licensed under Creative Commons.