A long time ago, I was a lawyer. In that corporate world of high-flying Type-A personalities and shoulder pads, my colleagues wore their stress levels like a badge of honour on their pinstripe power suits. Working 14-hour days, skipping lunch to annotate extremely important (and impossibly long) documents and conducting life-or-death conference calls on packed out commuter trains, barking into their headsets like petulant children kicking the back of your seat. It was a constant barrage of ‘walk and talk’ busy-ness that always forms such a major part of the corporate clique… think Wolf of Wall Street, without the hookers and drugs. Even outside the hustle of business life, we (society, that is) put productivity on a pedestal. “How are you?” “Oh, I’m sooo busy ….” The American Dream demands hard graft. It’s ingrained in our culture that working hard is a matter of pride. Sacrifice, commitment, blood, sweat and tears = success, right?
In the 21st century, our fragile minds are increasingly bombarded with information and our already hectic lifestyles become a delicate juggling act between lofty career plans, never-ending social commitments, family time, chores, hobbies and health, which can get a little overwhelming.
Those super-productive people—you know, the ones who post a morning “hill-sprint selfie” on social media at 6am, followed by a quick lunch-time update about scoring a major new contract at work. Then again, in the afternoon with a picture of a freshly baked loaf they’ve managed to whip-up somewhere between watching their child perform in a school-play to collecting the latest harvest of vegetables from their garden to transforming cookie dough into a batch of cookies while also volunteering at a soup kitchen for 4 hours. All with a picture-perfect lipstick and mascara that actually stays on their eyelashes. These people are getting shit done r they appear to be.
But let me tell you something, instead of being super-productive, being lazy can actually make you more successful. Here’s how you can readdress your stress levels and get some serious gains from the comfort of your armchair.
Let’s get started!
- Getting ripped whilst watching Netflix
Most people think that ‘Brad Pitt in Fight Club’ physique can only be achieved by spending every waking hour in the gym, but that’s a common misconception. The most important training session of the week isn’t even performed in the gym. The changes we want our body to make in response to our hard work actually takes place when our body is in a state of rest, not while sweating through a HIIT session or grinding through the last set of deadlifts. Top athletes maximize their performance by including rest days to give themselves a physiological and psychological break. The take-home message? Swap the cardio/deadlifts for your T.V now and then for a smarter, less stressful and more productive way to achieve your training goal.
2. F*#k the to-do list
We may feel the most productive when we’re firing through our to-do lists, like a beaver chewing a log, but ignoring that list and doing absolutely nothing has its benefits too! Think about your most creative moments, the times when you had an epiphany-like surge of inspiration – a new idea or a sudden life-realization. Where were you when that creative inspiration stuck you? It probably wasn’t while completing reports and spreadsheets or pulling an all-nighter at the office and trying to get through all your tasks on the to-do list. Those sweet moments of clarity are far more likely to happen while sipping wine and daydreaming on a beach. A calm mind welcomes insight, give it the space it needs to problem solve, avoid getting bogged down in the quick-sand of the day-to-day tasks and you’ll find that you’re more productive in the long run.
3. Desk-time drooling: take some corporate nap time
There’s NO shame in a good power nap. Naps have been shown to improve alertness and creativity, reduce anxiety and depression, prevent burnout and boost performance. This is why the midday snooze is now being endorsed by forward-thinking tech companies like Google, Uber and the Huffington Post, which all have napping rooms/”pods” in their offices. The nap gains aren’t just about increasing productivity, a 2007 study[i] of 23,681 adults found that those who took naps least three times a week lived longer and had a 37% lower chance of dying from heart disease. In addition, Britain’s oldest man, Reg Dean, lived through two world wars and 24 British Prime Ministers in his 110 years and said his longevity was thanks to his laziness[ii]. Naps for the win!
- Get efficient as f*#k
Working less does not mean being less productive, it just requires more efficiency. Bill Gates once said that he would always “hire a lazy person to do a difficult job” at Microsoft. Why? “Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
Super-efficiency is often confused with laziness, however, these people automatically have more downtime because they choose to work smarter, not harder. They are able to zone-in on the important things without wasting time and getting distracted. and get to be lazy. Be efficient. And be proud!
Despite our glorification of ‘busy’, a break, a nap and even a ‘lazy’ attitude can actually have a positive effect on your body, your brain and those all-important productivity levels. So let’s add a “mid-day nap” to our routine” or take a day to chill-out and restore our work-life balance to overcome the high-demands in our life!
Couch potato for a day! Who’s with me?