How to STOP being Lazy
I’m pretty sure that everyone has experienced laziness at one time or another in their life. I’m pretty sure that Netflix auto-playing the next episode is contributing to at least 90% of laziness worldwide today. (At least that’s what I blame my laziness on most of the time.) That feeling of wanting to lay on the couch and soak up the latest season of <favorite show> happens to EVERYONE. Let’s talk about some strategies that I use to help overcome it:
1. Do NOTHING
Letting yourself relax once in a while is actually beneficial to us as humans. Stepping away from the intense focus that our lives demand (driving anyone?) lets our brains recharge. Scientists believe that when we’re not learning our brain takes a moment to settle. This process allows our brain to analyze our recent experiences and commit the important parts to memory. It also lets your subconscious mind chew on a problem. This often leads to a resolution without thinking about the problem. I see this almost daily in my working life. As a software developer, I am often confronted with stubborn problems. These problems can often waste an entire afternoon. More often than not after a night of sleep, I am able to fix the problem in a few minutes.
2. Break it down
So you’ve let yourself off the hook a bit, relaxed, and still decided that you are too lazy. You sit on the couch and your goal seems unobtainable. Sometimes all it takes is to take your goal and break it down into easy steps. Let’s take a common issue that I have – going to the gym. My wife likes to work out at 5 am while I’d much rather sleep. I’m not going to lie, I choose to sleep far too often. Going to the gym always makes me uncomfortable but when I don’t go I do feel lazy. Here’s how I break it down:
The night before:
- Set alarm for gym time
- Layout gym clothes
- Put on gym clothes
- Drive to the gym
- Do 1 set, rest, repeat
- Drive home
REAP REWARDS ALL DAY
These rewards include all those endorphins exercising creates and being able to brag that you’ve already been to the gym today. Don’t use that as an excuse to have an unhealthy lunch though! Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body that lasts for hours.
Each of these steps alone is pretty simple. If you’re still intimidated by the “Do 1 set, rest, repeat” step then break it down further. Pick up something heavy once, put it down. Rest and repeat. You can replicate this system for accomplishing intimidating tasks with the use of your imagination. Almost any task breaks down to easy steps if you think about it. For this blog, my goal initially was to get my about page written. Now we are up to 7 articles and several drafts behind the scenes. Setting a goal of a blog with 10 articles is a much harder goal mentally.
3. Find a partner
We’re going to continue using my gym example here. If not for my wife I wouldn’t ever go to the gym. Having someone to be accountable to is critical for me to break out of my lazy streak. When you have someone that expects a certain behavior from you it makes sticking to your goal easier. Your partner can help you brainstorm how to break down your big goal into small steps.
4. Form a streak
Habits are hard to learn and harder still to unlearn. Think about an animal in your life that has a bad habit. My old dog somehow got into the habit of trying to get behind my nightstand EVERY NIGHT while I was asleep. This behavior turned out to be unbreakable. We banned him from the bedroom. Even on nights when we are feeling guilty and let him sleep in the bedroom the behavior starts again.
One method that I love to use is to print a paper calendar. I heard about this from a TV show but cannot remember for the life of me what one! Every time you complete the habit you’re trying to form – mark off that day. Every checkmark on a day builds and then you have a streak. Now your psychology is working for you. You will work hard to not break that streak and have to start all over again.
5. Give yourself some slack
The world is a busy busy place. If you break your streak or make some backward progress – don’t worry about it. Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow. Everyone struggles with this in some way and you’re not alone. I have gone back weeks later and read my blog posts and ended up rewriting entire sections because they didn’t make sense. Failure is okay as long as you learn from it and evolve.
Have you broken any particularly bad habits? Let me know in the comments how you did it!