Be Lazy & Productive; optimize the ebb and flow

After what could be considered a terrible week in terms of following my written weekly plan, I recognized something worth sharing.

As you may already know, I plan out my upcoming week on the weekend (either Saturday or Sunday). I take a look at my previous week, realign myself with my vision, milestones, and goals, and then write down my primary focus for the next week. I identify the following things:

  • What are my primary (most important) projects?
  • What are the important next tasks?
  • When can I work on those tasks?

My intention is to take 30 minutes at the end of each workday and plan my next day, hour by hour, indicating how I will use that time. However, I don’t always follow through, as I sometimes get distracted, unmotivated, and lazy.

Last week was definitely a “lazy week.” I may have accomplished only 10% of what I had planned. A part of me was frustrated and scared that I might be falling behind.

However, I noticed potential self-judgment creeping in and realized I had two options:

  1. I could judge myself, which, based on experience, only leads to feeling worse and engaging in self-destructive behavior.
  2. I could embrace what was happening and make the most of it.

I chose option 2, and here’s what I learned.

Lesson 1

There are very real ebbs and flows when it comes to being productive, just as there are ebbs and flows when it comes to being active (awake) and inactive (asleep). If I fight this, then when I’m tired, I will resist sleep, which leads to poor sleep and then diminishes my awake periods. The thing to do is to be aware of the flow I’m in and fully embrace where I am. As I do, each state, awake or asleep, becomes optimized.

Optimizing my awake time (food, activity, planning) creates beautiful sleep time. Optimizing my sleep time (7-hour minimum, regular wake-up cycle, food choices) adds tremendous value to my awake time.

Lesson 2

There are two fundamental drives within me that are two sides of the same coin.

  1. Something in me wants to be productive.
  2. Something in me wants to be lazy.

Fascinatingly, all human advancement is an attempt to conserve energy; to be lazier. We are essentially asking, “How could this be easier? How can I accomplish a specific result while expending less energy?”

It’s our desire to be lazy (conserve energy, relax, and enjoy more) that helps us understand how our productivity energy should be used. However, if I judge the lazy side of the coin, then I push it away, which does not allow me to utilize my lazy side, correctly. As I’ve said, the same happens if I judge myself for being sleepy and wanting to rest.

The invitation here is to fully embrace both sides.

Lesson 3

Productive Laziness. The big key to maximizing the laziness within me is to not judge it and honor the sincerity of what is being felt. I can be aware of where I am and ask myself, “How can I make the most of this lazy time?”

Here are three key points to optimize my lazy moments.

Key 1: Full permission to enjoy it, and (maybe) write down how long it will last.

Writing down how long it will last is to give yourself permission, and it also invites an end-time where you can then (possibly) return to being productive.

Key 2: Spend time reflecting on, “How can I make this simpler?”

In the lazy time, I often feel a little overwhelmed with everything I have going on. If I can invite myself into a relaxed reflection of where my productive time is going, I can explore where I’m spending my time and see if it’s critical, or playfully explore how it could be simpler.

Key 3: Learn, Grow, Play… the lazy way

For myself, what I find is that when I’m being lazy, without self-judgment, I’m actually quite open to still learning. There is still curiosity. However, if I’m judging myself, there’s no openness to learn.

This invites me to use my lazy moments, in part, to engage in a high form of relaxed learning. I can spend this time doing the following:

  • Listening to more podcast episodes than I normally would, on subjects that interest me.
  • Spending more time in relaxed and comfortable book reading, on subjects that interest me.
  • Engaging my imagination playfully, envisioning my life and work with more ease and play.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, these three keys are only possible if I fully embrace the lazy state that I’m in. As I optimize my lazy side, I find that it leads me towards a more productive state.

There’s a lot of freedom in understanding that this is allowed, just like resting and sleeping. There’s no need to argue with it.

Over the years, I’ve experienced a lot of pain from fighting against these natural ebbs and flows. Eventually, I learned that they are all there to serve the deeper purpose and opportunity of who I am. I can trust myself to both fully relax and fully engage whenever those moments arise!



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