Laziness- The Silent Killer

Far and away the most obstructing obstacle of them all is laziness. Most internal obstacles are stronger than their external counterparts, but laziness is one that doesn’t even have an equal out there.

Laziness can grip you like no other feeling. It slowly draws you deeper into it’s vicious grasp and squeezes the life out of you. The longer it has a hold on you, the harder it is to escape. Every precious second spent lazy engenders minutes more of it. The minutes become hours, the hours days. Once you give laziness an inch, it’ll take a mile.

Hard day? You just need to relax, chill out. Put on a movie and have a beer. Seems OK, right? Seems healthy. It is. Relaxation is an important part of our lives, human beings need time to let their minds wander, to assess things and, in a way, just let go. So when does relaxation become laziness? That’s the hard question, because the two bear some very common attitudes and forms of expression and each person has his own level.

I remember when I was in college, living in a tiny studio apartment, cleaning meant taking out the garbage and washing whatever dishes were piled in the sink. As I got older (read: married) I realized that this wouldn’t do. But once I raise my standards of living, I raise my laziness threshold level to a much higher degree.

What is the laziness threshold level? That’s the place where how important any task is meets how much you actually get out of not doing it. For example, in college doing my dishes had a relatively low LTL, since it was only about once a week AND if I didn’t do them, I’d be out of dishes. Since the payoff of doing the dishes was high (clean dishes) and the work value was low (weekly) I would say that putting it off was just not worth it.

Now, when dishes from 2 adults, a 3 year old and a baby seem to be crowding every surface in my house you would assume that the LTL would be low again, since the pay-off is having space in my house. But a lot has changed- I have many many more dishes and don’t NEED the dirty ones on a more than twice-weekly basis, the only reason I want to wash them is because of the space they’re taking up. The pay-off (extra clean dishes) doesn’t seem to value the amount of effort, giving us a high LTL. Which means, if you’re like me, that the excuse for laziness has also increased.

OK, so this is the fourth time I am trying to start this article. No, I didn’t stop because I was too lazy to go on, I just found myself unable to truly pin down “laziness”. I tried authoritative (“Far and away the most obstructing obstacle of them all is laziness.”) But that didn’t last past two sentences. I tried poetic (“Laziness can grip you like no other feeling. It slowly draws you deeper into it’s vicious grasp and squeezes the life out of you.”) That Just got pathetic. I even tried to quantify laziness and invented something called the “Laziness Threshold Level.” But none of this seems to be hitting the issue.

So why can’t I get to the root of this issue? Why can’t I pinpoint laziness? I think the reason may be that we all have our own ways of defining what is lazy and what is not. We all have our own values upon which to judge someone else’s, or our own, actions and the term “lazy” is going to be different for each set of values.

Sure the above is true about most judgment calls, but it seems different to me with laziness. As a teacher I hear a wide variety of excuses, but the one I hear most frequently is, “I didn’t have enough time!” Doesn’t matter if they had two months to do it or if they were reminded six times, my students, on the whole, will procrastinate until the night before just about any project is due. This is not to say, by the way, that I’m that much different but at least I have the decency not to whine about it. Now, when a student tells me they didn’t “have time” they are really telling me, “I prioritized my work/life and your work came out on bottom.” That’s fine, I don’t take it personally. In fact, if we’re talking about a student who is rocking “A”s in just about every class, including mine, I’m even going to trust his priorities and let it slide. It’s the student who doesn’t even know what the assignment was, the student who didn’t remember that it was due that week, who I’m going to call on that kind of thing. That, to me, is laziness.

Laziness isn’t prioritizing badly, it’s not making a judgment. Laziness is a lack of effort, of interest or attentiveness. When you look at your kitchen and decide, “I’ll have more time to clean it tomorrow,” you’re judging, you’re thinking. When you say, “It’s just going to get dirty again,” you’re being lazy.

Once again, I’m not stating any hard and fast rule here, I believe each person has their own demons to fight in this battle, the above was just an example. So how do we fight these demons? What strategies can we use to make sure that we don’t fall from prioritizer to procrastinating?

As with any internal issue, the first and strongest defense is, to quote Mad-Eye Moody, “Constant Vigilance!” Whenever you find yourself skivvying off one task for another, ask why. Whenever you decide that it would be better to tackle that talk or project another day, think about what your reason is. The best policeman we have is ourselves. If you try this and you still find yourself in trouble, enlist a friend or loved one. Have them call you on tasks or help you make a chart or list to properly prioritize your projects. No one really minds helping others not be lazy.

With a mindful mind and a watchful eye, you can start separating what you aren’t doing for good reasons and what you aren’t doing for bad ones. You can begin to get to the root of wherever your particularly laziness stems from and, with a little help or a hell of a lot of gumption, you can have that problem licked.

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