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Why I’m a Fan of Laziness and Procrastination
For a long time I fought my nature. Its ebb and flow of high intensity, and slothful moments.
But now – I know that for my clients, the best thing I can do is continue to build a culture where procrastination and laziness are part of the big scheme. In fact, I’m finding the more I lean into these two things, the more the I see growth, success and my clients benefit.
This is how I’m lazy
My laziness covers three things.
1. I don’t want work to be all I do
I want to walk on the beach when it’s daylight, have family meals, enjoy my weekends and weeknights. A client last week said a contact, when finding out she was starting her business said, “Congratulations. Self employment means you get to choose which ninety hours a week you’ll work.”
I think this is such a broken view of how work should be. My clients need energy, enthusiasm and focus. Not a worn out zombie. My family deserves the same. So I’ll be lazy by stopping most days at five pm, and not working weekends. Learning to do so has made me a better time manager and stopped me wasting time.
2. I don’t enjoy wasting time on meaningless tasks
In my teens I got a job in a factory sticking tea bags onto paper that were to be inserted into a magazine. I lasted a day.
I learned quickly that if it doesn’t have meaning, I’m not going to do it. If I can’t see what the return on my time and energy will be, I’m likely to dump the activity. Or – at the very least, outsource it. My clients benefit because I don’t ask them to pay for meaningless tasks. If I can’t see an ROI in it, they shouldn’t ask me to do it.
3. I like fun more than anything else
I’ve got to be enthused about the businesses I work with. And I’ve got to be enthused about the work I do for those businesses. If I am not, then there is no point me doing it – I need to serve my client (and myself) by giving it to someone who loves it. I’m way too lazy to bother trying to convince myself it’s fun. It’s not. My clients know if I work with them its because I have falling a little bit in love with what they do, and why they are doing it – I believe in them, I want to work with them.
And I procrastinate in these three ways
1. If something doesn’t feel right I delay work
This used to get me into all sorts of trouble but now I’ve got much better at knowing what it means. It normally means I made a call to do something that wasn’t in my core skill set, or I took on a client that I shouldn’t have. When I get this feeling, I sift through what my recent decisions are, and I rectify it – normally by exiting or outsourcing the work to someone who is excellent at it. I’ve learned that both my clients and I are best served by me doing what feels right. This thankfully rarely happens anymore, as I’ve got better at reading the warning signals. What I used to read as challenge I now read as AVOID.
2. I need to know more before I act
Sometimes there’s a sticking point, or something doesn’t add up. I’ve learned that this type of procrastination often means there is a reason to delay and wait. The waiting place feels uncomfortable sometimes – but I’m learning to listen to my gut, and not act until I feel the “go”. When I’ve ignored this gut feel, I’ve often regretted it, as the scope has been changed halfway through the project, or the whole project has been canned.
When I feel the ‘go’ it’s amazing – and I can get a huge amount of work done in a short time frame. So it’s worth waiting for.
3. Something’s piqued my interest
I’m a huge fan of Carol Dweck’s Mindset book. One of the things I learned while listening to that book is that I love to learn new things. It’s what I love most about the internet. The more questions I have, the more I search. I’ve learned if I’m on a learning curve to run with it – the information adds to my knowledge and understanding, and I develop skills my clients need. I now allow time every week for legitimised procrastination – or as others might call it – RESEARCH
I reckon that LAZINESS and PROCRASTINATION get a bad rap, but for many creatives, they are part of our process.
(I’d like to add – I got up at five am this morning, so I could have some quiet time, then a walk, write some emails, and now I’ve written this blog. By starting early, I can knock off before dinner – it’s not about doing nothing, but about listening to the rhythms of activity and why there are blocks and times of quiet time).
We don’t NEED to be at 100% all the time – in fact it’s bad for us. And it’s bad for our clients- they deserve excellent work, from people focussed and ready to work, who also take the time to learn, and live.
Perhaps we need to start seeing procrastination and laziness in a different light. As something that adds, rather than takes away from our work.
Rachel Goodchild is managing director of Identify.