The notion of laziness being a positive attribute is not one shared by many. However, is laziness always a bad thing? Bill Gates said he would always "hire a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.’" Often, lazy people find means with which to do their job efficiently and quickly because, as you might imagine, a lazy person wants finish his or her work as soon as possible.
Aspects of laziness may allow a person to be healthier, develop excellent managerial skills, and succeed at professional relationships. Laziness just may be the key to success and happiness.
Here are a few positive characteristics of laziness:
1. It helps you eat and sleep better
A lazy person may be less inclined to leave the office to grab fast food or go to a restaurant. Instead, he or she may be more inclined to sit at his or her desk and eat leftovers, salad, soup, or a homemade sandwich. Additionally, grabbing an apple, grapes, or a few pretzels might suffice for a snack, too.
It is also rare for a lazy person to burn the midnight oil. Instead, a lazy person goes to bed at a decent hour and gets plenty of sleep. Rather than working a multitude of hours or pushing the limits of human exhaustion, they are well rested.
A 2013 article in The New York Times noted that working an abundance of hours, notably overtime, often results in less sleep, which negatively affects performance – often considerably. It went on to cite a Harvard study which reports that employees who are overworked and sleeping less than six hours a night perform worse than their well-rested counterparts. Even worse, exhausted workers often suffer from burnout. In fact, the Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation cost American companies nearly $63.2 billion annually in terms of lost productivity. Simply put, working too hard can hurt – not help – productivity.
Maybe that is why you never hear of anybody having an early heart attack or enduring ulcers because of not working too hard.
2. It makes you more efficient
While most think of Ben Franklin as a hard worker, it should be remembered that he once said he was "the laziest man in the world. I invented all those things to save myself from toil." Although a lazy person may not have the drive to work nonstop, it doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have ambition. Franklin was lazy, thus he invented ways to make work easier; he wanted to do less work. It is the idea of embracing laziness and using it to your advantage.
If a good shortcut or a more efficient method for accomplishing a task exists, a lazy person will attempt to figure it out. Society didn’t progress from walking to horses to trains to cars to airplanes because we all enjoy running long distances. Every human being possesses some natural laziness, which has led to everything from microwaves to remote controls.
3. It makes you more innovative
A task-orientated mindset prevents the creative juices from flowing (the old, now heavily debated, theory of left vs. right brain functions). The artistic and creative side can’t flourish if one is concentrating, determined to solve a problem, or focused on completing a task. In fact, the hit show The Big Bang Theory did an episode that noted this idea, titled “The Einstein Approximation” (Season 3, Episode 14). Although it’s a fictional show, the premise of the plot is supported by a plethora of research.
A lazy person’s ability to avoid constant work allows for times where the mind can wander, which promotes creative thinking. Many people consider a lack of concentration or goofing off as forms of unproductivity, but it is quite the opposite. Great ideas rarely emerge when one is bogged down with finishing predetermined tasks. Hard workers and task-orientated employees are usually the ones working for those that have great ideas and visions; those visions and ideas usually come from times when one is at play, or relaxing.
Recent research suggests that the only way to daydream, create, and dream for the future is to relax and occasionally become a couch potato, thus stimulating the Default Mode Network, or DMN. The Daily Touch reported back in 2013 how researchers believe that the art of relaxing helped people focus better, inspired motivation, encouraged creativity, provided for better long-term memory skills, and even helped people stay in touch with their own set of values and self-identity. Several studies found that after learning a new skill or receiving new information, greater activity is found in the DMN, representing our brains forming long-term memories.
In the end, by allowing your brain to go into default mode, or let it do whatever it wants to do, it can do wonderful things. The less we manage our brains, the better they can help us become a success.
4. It helps you focus
Lazy people don’t stress about making the bed, cleaning their desk, organizing their emails, or other extraneous tasks. Inherent laziness leads one to focus on an assignment in order to finish it quickly and efficiently. Lazy workers occupy their minds with vital information rather than worry about irrelevant errands. The only way to truly focus on a task is to simplify how many tasks you have. Not to mention, exhaustion and stress preclude you from concentrating on one goal. If there are only a few hours a day to work on a big project, don’t worry about filling the other remaining hours with meaningless tasks. Instead, use the downtime to both rest the mind and possibly think of strategies.
A lazy person does not have an insatiable need to stay busy. Rather, a lazy person embraces downtime. A lazy person will not do work for the sake of working hard. As a result, a lazy person keeps his or her mind fresh and rested, which leads to better productivity because a rested worker that minimizes tasks has greater focus, thus greater effectiveness.
5. It helps you delegate tasks
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Lazy people prefer not to work, obviously. If there exists an opportunity to delegate work to others, lazy workers will happily share the workload. Moreover, no lazy worker wants to clean up another worker’s mess, so they are skilled at finding the right person to do the job. Furthermore, lazy people refrain from micromanaging, avoid endless meetings, and don’t need constant status updates. They tend to ask big-picture questions and guide their workers. They avoid gathering opinions, too, because that often leads to more work. In the end, laziness can lead to effective management because lazy workers select the right person for the right job, let that person do his or her job, and then move on to the next task.
6. You avoid drama
Lazy people are too busy being lazy to worry about gossip, arguing, getting into lengthy discussions, or caring about coworkers’ relationships. They prefer to finish work and go home where they can, well, get back to being lazy.
Laziness rarely results in fighting or stabbing someone in the back to get ahead at work, metaphorically speaking. If it is a choice between office politics and getting through a day without drama, a lazy person will usually avoid the drama.
Obviously, laziness as a trait is different from laziness as an attitude. One who shows no desire to work, refuses to lift a helping hand in a relationship, takes shortcuts at work (instead of finding efficient ways with which to accomplish a task), or generally doesn’t care is a bad thing. It is one thing to be lazy and create methods with which to make a job easier. It is another thing to be lazy and refuse to do much work.
Laziness as a mannerism can serve one well. It behooves everyone to take some tips from the lazy person.
- Do not feel a constant need to create tasks. When the work is done, it is done. Relax.
- Go to bed! A good night’s rest equates to better health and productivity.
- Find easier ways to accomplish tasks. Doing things the "hard way" or the "easy way" has the same result – the job is done. There is no shame in finishing an assignment faster, if it is done well.
- Focus on what is important. The more you focus, the faster you get a job done. The faster you get a job done, the more time you have to do other things – work or leisure.
Like everything in life, moderation is the key. Laziness, like anything else, can be a positive thing.
Be lazy once in a while. Go ahead. It’s okay.