man's feet on grass

This is a series of productivity hacks for lazy people, helping them harness their laziness in order to become more productive. It won’t help lazy people overcome their laziness. Instead, it all about how to view a certain sort of laziness – a lazy/clever overlap – as a positive trait if it is managed right.

“Laziness is the road to progress, but only when it is allied to intelligent thought and high ambition.”

─ Richard Koch

Focus on the Best, Forget the Rest

Achieving more with less effort is every procrastinator’s dream. Smart people know this as the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of consequences (outputs) flow from 20% of causes (inputs). It’s the trick of smart procrastinators to work within this predictable imbalance, not against it, by concentrating on the all-important 20%.

  • Figure out that thing you do that produces the biggest bang in terms of profit or payoff. Don’t assume. Keep a simple record, for example, where do most of your customers come from? The answer mightn’t be what you think.
  • Schedule your time and resources so that this 20% is multiplied, while the 80% is slashed – mercilessly.

It’s not Procrastination, It’s Preparation

Think about your procrastination in a different way. Maybe it’s not a weakness that sets you back. Maybe it’s a strength that gives you a head start. You don’t rush in. Reflect. Allow creativity to flow naturally.

  • Plan any writing tasks before you start. Planning is the most productive part of the writing process.
  • If creativity is required, let your mind wander to related topics, or let the problem sit in your subconsciousness for a while before proceeding.

Break it Up, Do a Little

One reason for procrastination is the large amount of work you see before you. That’s why speedsters get stuck in immediately. They love the challenge of a work mountain to climb! Procrastinators look up at the peak with terror and pain.

  • You don’t have to do everything at once. Break the task down and do something – anything – to start off. All big tasks consist of smaller ones.
  • Our instincts are to prioritise the most important tasks in a project and do them first. Allow yourself the luxury of starting with a short, trivial or enjoyable task first, to get you going.

Good is Okay, Perfection Can Wait

Sometimes, we procrastinate because the task seems to require perfection and who can begin to achieve that? You’ve probably heard the saying that ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good’. Speedsters often start quickly because they have a natural love of the perfect that you don’t share.

“Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.”

Robert Watson-Watt, inventor of the early warning radar in World War II

Assess the relative importance of your task. Must it be flawless – before publishing, before sharing, before releasing? Can you expand or improve it at a later date?

Say No, Say Go

If you want something done, ask a busy person. This may be one of our favourite productivity hacks for lazy people. The speedster is that busy person, always taking on the work of others, sometimes leading to burnout and resentment. Don’t be that person. Say no. Delegate.

  • Assertiveness is vital to a smart procrastinator. Say no to as much as possible, so you can focus on your best.
  • If you’re assigned work that someone else is better at or wants to do, reassign it.

If it Feels Good, Do it Now

Because of energy levels and working styles, procrastinators put off work because they don’t feel like doing certain kinds of work at a particular time. Smart procrastinators know when to use their best times of the day for different types of work.

  • Listen to your body, your brain and your energy. What types of task do they prefer at different times of the day or the week?
  • Likewise, when you’re working on a task with diminishing returns and a sore head, don’t ‘power through’. Reschedule and relax.

Work from Home, Wear Your Shorts

Procrastinators love to chill out in the casual clothes and take a break when they want. Smart procrastinators prioritise the deadline, over the method. This is sometimes refereed to as Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). The where and how don’t matter. Well, it seems they’re right. Remote working, for example, actually boosts productivity (contrary to the popular panic over staff not returning quickly enough to the traditional workplace during the current coronavirus pandemic).

  • If you can only work from home sometimes, or prefer it only for some task types, do so.
  • Work as a group to persuade your boss about the benefits of remote work from a purely productivity boosting viewpoint… while also showing them how it can save the company rent and utilities’ cash!

No Relaxing? No Maxing!

The danger of overwork and fatigue are always a possibility for the speedster. Then, productivity crashes to zero. Smart procrastinators find it easier to maximise their productive work over sustained periods because they are more inclined to relax properly.

  • Relax during tasks by conducting a brief mindfulness exercise, taking a stretch, or allowing yourself some time-bound surfing.
  • Later starts and lie-ins are easier to achieve when working from home, so make the most of these opportunities.

I started off with a quote from the master of lazy intelligence, Richard Koch. And I’ll end with another from him.

“There is no rush. If we think intelligently about what we can achieve with our time, we can be relaxed, even lazy. In fact, being lazy – having plenty of time to think – may actually be a precondition for achieving a great deal.”

Richard Koch

Productivity Hacks for Lazy Bludgers

What do you think? Is one man’s laziness another man’s thinking and planning time? Let me know in a comment.