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Laziness is bad. That is a stereotype we have been conditioned to believe. For many of us, we do things that make us appear busy when we are not to fulfil these societal expectations. We feel we have to always be on our toes, doing something, achieving something, or look busy even though we are tired and burnt out.
Before learning how to unlearn laziness, let’s reflect on the good and bad side of laziness.
When Laziness is Good.
Let’s not confuse rest with laziness. People often do and judge others without knowing that there could be other reasons they are so. Something is gratifying about periods of laziness when you are doing nothing but enjoying a time of inactivity.
For instance, other people may consider resting or enjoying a nice vacation as being lazy, but you worked your ass off to afford such a luxury.
As a psychologist, I take this perspective of things; if the behaviour doesn’t interfere with day to day functioning, your career, basic hygiene, social life, then it isn’t an illness, it’s a weakness.
When Laziness is a Problem.
Laziness is a problem when it defines more of your personality and affects other areas of your life negatively. When it’s overdone, laziness is dangerous. It’s like a disease that’s self-inflicted and needs intervention.
The only person who can intervene is yourself. If there is an underlying physical or mental ailment that’s causing you to seem lazy, seek medical assistance.
The results of laziness at a personal level include underperformance (at work, in bed, or anywhere else where top performance is required), piling up of uncompleted tasks, poor interpersonal skills (e.g. teamwork) and poor personal effectiveness.
Based on the above negative results, it’s clear that laziness puts you at risk of losing your job, friendships, marriage, and self-reliance.
Laziness is born. This is another stereotype that gets you stuck in a rut. All hope is not lost. Laziness is not born. It is learned and can be unlearned. If you are lazy, you have learned the habit by being lazy consistently.
This article has tips to help you reduce the intensity of your laziness to normal levels of lazy. It’s about overcoming a lack of self-motivation.
These are flexible tips which you can apply to your situation to help you overcome laziness and claim your life.
1. Find Out the Cause.
Is laziness a chosen behaviour or a symptom of deeper underlying issues e.g. chronic fatigue, being overwhelmed, afraid or hurt? The first step to dealing with laziness is identifying the exact problem. You may not have to fix your lazy, but to fix the cause. Tired? Rest. Overwhelmed? Prioritize. Hurt? Change your environment or routine.
2. Remove Disorganization.
Being organized helps you to feel more energetic instead of having a disorganized house, room, or working desk. Are you too lazy to be organized? Invite some friends over. It will motivate you to get off your butt and organize your surroundings.
3. Adjust Your Attitude.
Laziness by choice is a result of lazy thoughts. The main thought would be those of making you fear discomfort. Being lazy keeps you in a comfort zone, and the longer you are in it the more you won’t want to get out.
Remind yourself you are capable of doing things now and be positive about the little period of discomfort, you can always lazy around later after the tasks are done.
4. Live Here and Now.
Take advantage of the present moment. When you think of doing something, do it there and then. You wake up in the morning and notice the pile of dirty laundry, and you think about doing the laundry. Do it. Now. Even as you read this, some unfinished business may come to mind, get up and do it.
Stop hitting the snooze button and soon getting out of bed will become a habit rather than an uncomfortable interruption. The moment you think about what you need to do, count 1,2,3,4,5 and start doing it without delay. Make this a habit, and you are on your way to conquering the “demon” of laziness.
5. Consider Benefits.
Do you want some free time where you can be a couch potato for a while? Then remind yourself that doing the importance of finishing your tasks instead of being lazy. When you keep postponing, the tasks pile up, and you’ll have to work longer and harder later. Therefore, avoid putting off decisions by considering the benefits you anticipate getting.
6. Dream Big.
Set goals to help you prioritize the most important things in life. Sometimes laziness is a consequence of spending time doing what is not important until the energy to do the important stuff is depleted. The more you achieve your goals, the more energized you become.
Even the small stuff as taking care of your hygiene and handwashing, are worthy goals to set and achieve.
Small goals are stepping stones to the bigger goal. So, don’t just lie there when you have goals to achieve. It never gets old: dreaming big will help you get up.
7. Ascertain Accountability.
If you want to stop being lazy, involve another person like a family member, friend, or counsellor. Tell them about your goals and what you are planning to do. (You don’t have to tell them you are working on being less lazy.)
The point is to have someone to hold you accountable for your behaviour. People who inspire or support you.
8. Check Your Diet.
What makes a big part of your diet? Is it healthy or unhealthy food? Too much sugar, junk food, trans fats (like margarine) make your body fatigued and apathetic, which are great conditions for laziness to prosper. Thus, eat a balanced diet and engage in regular exercises. If this seems too hard to do, remember the abovementioned point of accountability.
9. Reinvent Yourself.
Do something differently. The secret of success lies in your daily routine. Thus, change an aspect of your daily routine or habits. Stand up now and go dress up differently. Dress your best whether you are going somewhere or not. Looking good is the first step to reinvent yourself and win.
10. Divide and Conquer Tasks.
Divide work which seems overwhelming into smaller chunks. Doing so will make the work you have seem less daunting. You can’t wait for life to be easy, but you can reduce the discomfort of working by making the task more manageable.
Then, take one step at a time instead of taking on multiple tasks. Perhaps you are not lazy, but multitasking is dragging you behind.
11. Focus on the Task.
Remember the goals you have set for yourself as discussed above on the tip about dreaming big? Also, remember the divide-and-conquer tip above? Well, to focus, prioritize the goals, divide them into achievable timeframes, and take breaks in between tasks. For instance, set daily, weekly, or monthly to-do lists.
12. Be Conscious of Your Laziness.
Has anyone in your life frequently complained about your laziness? Sometimes people are wrong when they judge us, but sometimes they are right. When your laziness is hurting other people, you need to listen and change. Be aware of your laziness and remember the first point in this article—know the cause. If you are not unwell, unable to work, experiencing grief or some other obvious reason, change.
13. Be Your Source of Inspiration.
It’s okay to have people to be accountable to. They can motivate you to achieve your goals and stop being lazy. However, you can be your source of inspiration through positive thinking and self-talk.
For example, when a demotivating thought comes to mind such as “I can’t do this,” counter it with “I am hardworking.”
It’ll be hard at first, but practise it for 3 weeks or so, and it becomes a habit.
14. Ask for Assistance.
When overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, consider if you can seek assistance. Don’t leave the other person to do everything. Instead, share the work. Be grateful to those helping you so that they won’t shy away from helping again. If you have a position of authority (everyone does), delegate tasks to members of your team.
15. Offer to Help Others.
Also, offer help to others when they need it. If you are truly seeking to conquer laziness, offering to help others make you accountable and you’ll just have to get up and work. There’s Kenyan saying “you can’t sweep your neighbour’s house when yours is dirty.” Applied in this context, if you help another person do something, and you haven’t done the same, your conscience may move you to work on your tasks first.
16. Practise Self-discipline.
You won’t be great overnight. You become great when you keep going. You have become great at laziness because you keep going on with the habit.
Self-discipline is getting up even after feeling unmotivated about what you planned to do because it is important. Consistent effort will get your self-discipline trained. When you have tasks to do, remember the rewards and the consequences of not doing them.
17. Reward Yourself.
Give yourself simple rewards after accomplishing tasks. For instance, after disinfecting surfaces, finishing chores do something fun and enjoyable to you. Watch a movie, take a nap, take a long bath or any other form of enjoyment. You’ll enjoy your lazy time better knowing that you have already done the important things you need to.
18. Minimize Distractions.
Television is the most common distraction in our world today. People can sit in front of the screen for hours on end doing nothing but watching hypnotizing programmes. They keep you glued and coming back for more.
Hence, when you need to accomplish some tasks, keep away from such distractions. After completing your work, you can indulge in your favourite pastimes. Remember to prioritize.
19. Let No Setbacks Discourage You.
Failures can lower your motivation to a great extent if you let them. Strive to accomplish your goal to the best of your ability, knowing that you can only control what you can control. When you fail, try to see the lessons to apply to the next attempt to minimise the failure and don’t be discouraged.
20. Leave Your Comfort Zone.
Be comfortable with the discomfort of accomplishing tasks. Think of someone who you look up to and how their success inspires you. Do you think they got where they are by sitting on their bottom? Imagine the work they had to do to get there. You are not any different; stop being lazy. Laziness is a choice.
The secret to success is in your daily habits. To overcome laziness, the above tips can only work if you are consistent and take a positive view of change.
If all else doesn’t work against laziness, sit lazily and drink a lot of water.
Life is for living. Keep living. Don’t give up.