Thursday, 6 September 2012

OK I'll Admit it: I'm Lazy!

There, I've said it. That's a weight off my shoulders. Now I can look people straight in the eye with the smugness of a man who knows exactly what is right - and wrong - with himself.

Having done that there remains however the small problem of my laziness itself.

But what IS laziness? Does the reason for not having the mental and physical energy to perform a task count at all? I don't know. What I'm putting finger to keyboard about today is how it affects my life for the worse - and yes, sometimes even for the better.

If I were a philosopher - the famous kind, not the armchair kind - I'd coin a beautiful phrase to sum it all up, something like, "Efficiency is the smarter brother of laziness." In fact I'm sure someone else has already said it. I can't summon the strength to Google it but if I did, I'm positive that I'd find someone else already has, and has probably garnered a mountain of kudos for saying it before me. Perhaps in the form of one those annoying pictures with words all over it that people seem to love sharing on Facebook. Maybe even with a yawning cat on it. But you can't see the cat because the words are so big. God how I hate those.

There is a nugget of truth in there of course: efficiency arises from someone saying, "I wish I could do this faster." Whether it's to do more or simply to get it done faster in order to spend time doing nothing.

I'm a firm believer in the 80/20 principle. If I can recall it correctly, the official line goes something like, "80% of your time is spent producing 20% of your work." The reverse is the one I'm interested in though. I've probably misremembered it but that hasn't stopped it becoming some sort of lazy mantra for me to mumble to myself on the many occasions I've found myself doing little or nothing.

This pearl of wisdom, in the hands of a more energetic man would be the engine that drives the Ferrari Testarossa of a successful career, speeding through the day's tasks without even dropping down a gear. In mine it is the knackered donkey, dragging my cart languidly to the next station in life. Invariably late and at best just in time. But it seems to serve me well for own perverted (read: lazy) purposes.

Now, the smart among you will recall or will have checked what I do for a living. I'm not smart so I'll check for myself: that's right, I'm a freelance photographer. Surely this condition is a curse in my professional career? Surely even more of a curse to admit it publicly where clients could read it and think to themselves, "He's just admitted he's lazy. I'm not using him!"

There's the thing: once I'm on a job, with real purpose (ie. the promise of payment) I find within myself a new source of energy. "Aha!" I hear you say, "So you're not lazy. This whole post is a ruse. I've been duped!" Fair point. One which I can't feel compelled to counter. But how often am I actually on a job for a client? Without checking, I can't be sure. So let's refer back to that yardstick: there you go, let's say 20% of the time. This definitely isn't true but it's the least wrong of any other number I could think of right now.

This was the case in my educational years too: I rarely gave exams the attention they deserved and I've probably notched up about 2 hours of real revision from primary school all the way through university. Because it didn't seem to count. Real life is the proving ground. Well, that was my rationale anyway.

The point being that it's all very well reading these "12 things successful people do before breakfast" type article, the likes of which I find incredibly tedious and frankly, exhausting to even contemplate clicking on. I'm sure you could read one, be inspired and get a hell of a lot done in a short period of time but who on Earth has the energy to keep it up beyond breakfast? Not me! I feel I can justify my life and lazy decisions retroactively by applying my bastardisation of the 80/20 rule to it: if you only did the things that mattered, you could cut that down to 2 or 3 things to do before breakfast. And I've got that down to a tee, so long as going downstairs and using the toilet actually count as "things" that is.

If you've read this far you'll have seen the light at the end of my meandering, dilapidated tunnel:

Laziness has its place.

I've even shouted it out so you can skip straight to the message (I like your style). Doing nothing can be great and is in fact, necessary for an efficient and half-way sane existence.

For every Monday you spend working, actually doing the stuff that pays, the stuff that bosses, clients and spouses like to see you doing and note to themselves, "He's busy, good man. Have a promotion, some money, some breadwinning sex," (delete as applicable,) you have to spend a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday AND a Friday either planning, thinking about or even ignoring it. I'm aware that the weekend leaves a gaping hole in my analogy. If I weren't so lazy I'd plug that hole with a sage and witty explanation, as it is: plug it yourself. I'm sure I've spent 20% of my day on this post already.

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