‘I can’t go back. They’ll think I’m lazy.”
My friend Carly has a senior corporate role while her side hustle is being a freelance editing business. As a single Mom to three teenage boys, there was home schooling to juggle with a production line of man size meals. Previously committed to showing up at the office, COVID released Carly’s night owl.
Getting to the end of a busy workday, then connecting with the boys after dinner to binge watch or just chat, meant Carly often started work again at 10 pm into the early morning. Having completed more than ten hours work, Carly enjoyed a lazy wake up, then started work again around 10 or 11 am unless there was a virtual meeting.
Carly insisted it was her ‘lazy’ start to the day, that held the rest of the day together.
And her certainty about the value of being lazy, got me thinking.
Was Carly really being lazy by lying in bed and doing nothing? Or had this selected period of laziness enabled rather than hindered her progress to maximising the day?
I know this is controversial. The idea of the perfect morning routine so often includes an early start, working out, journaling, meditating and juicing before even starting any form of work. Yes, it can lift you up. Or the thought of it is exhausting, for someone like Carly.
There’s good news for Carly and the rest of us who choose periods of doing nothing because they want to, my favourite definition of ‘lazy’!
The good news is, that several scientific studies support letting you mind wander to make you more creative, productive and all round fabulous.
Doing nothing and letting your mind wander, in scientific terms called ‘off task thinking’ is not only less stressful, it means you think about the future and long term goals more deeply and creatively than when you force yourself to focus, or use ‘on task’ thinking.
These studies often compare the amount of mind wandering during demanding or mundane tasks but combine these findings with the benefits of more sleep, avoiding burnout, taking a quick refreshing nap and the productive power of being lazy, starts to shine.
If being lazy translates to your mind achieving more, take a pause.
It’s ironic that in the early months of COVID it felt as though our days had been infinitely extended without travel to work, ready to be crammed with activity. Suddenly at home, there were well meant suggestions about how great it could be to learn a new language, acquire a new skill or get back to a neglected hobby.
Out of love, I didn’t make any of these suggestions to Carly to absorb in her already cramped schedule.
And the closest I came to learning a new language was cutting out magazine articles about my favourite towns in Italy, then reverently murmuring their names as I pasted the pictures in my journal.
It occurs to me that I unwittingly harnessed the productive power of being lazy when a regular coaching client asked for help on how to ‘face’ the day. A lifelong early riser who lived alone, her pre COVID habit was to bound out of bed to exercise. Suddenly, she dreaded leaving the comfort of her duvet, for any reason. To help, I developed ‘3 Ways to feel more confident before getting out of bed.’
Energised about the productive power of being lazy, I am so excited that two of the three ways revolved around….
more time in bed!
Not sleeping, (although sleep is great) but getting to bed a bit earlier and curling up reflecting on what had got done, what had been great and what there was to look forward to the next day. Then, next morning, settling comfortably into the duvet re-visiting the highlights from the day before.
The impact? Sometimes we need to get lazy to find the time and celebrate everything we did get done. To celebrate who we are, not what we did.
The space to do nothing, to be lazy and feel good about it is transformational.
So, on this ‘National Lazy Day’, press pause.