Lifestyle & Success

“Hear” Your Laziness: Boost Productivity During Self-Isolation

Always busy running errands even during the quarantine?  Leading such a bustling lifestyle in the constantly changing and unpredictable world can be exhausting. Thus, chances are you’re familiar with the dampening sensation of laziness. It may occur suddenly or when you expect it; it may concern a task that needs to be done or an activity that seems to be desirable, like making a good meal. In this article, we will look behind the facade of a phenomenon called “laziness” and try to understand what is hidden behind it and why it prevents you from moving in a vigorous march toward your goals.

None of us has ever experienced living during the global pandemic of a new virus. Constantly staying in and not being able to visit your family or places is a huge load on the psyche. The brain processes it, and it may not have a resource for new knowledge.

So even now, how to do your best and actually focus on work? Let’s find out.

What Is Laziness: a Bad Habit, Lack Of Discipline Or…?

There are different points of view on this matter. You surely are familiar with the negative one, where the laziness is seen as a manifestation of weakness. However, there is a positive attitude toward indolence. For example, in positive psychotherapy, developed by Nossrat Peseschkian, it’s “the ability not to do too much” and is perceived as a totally normal state of the human body and mind. 

Basically, what we call laziness, is a signal coming from our psyche, carrying a message that we’re not willing to perform a certain activity. There are different causes of it, however. Thus, our task is to “unravel” the message of the idleness and take appropriate measures.

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

The Root Cause

According to modern psychology, there’s only one reason for laziness – the mismatch of our intentions, goals, objectives, aspirations, to our true needs.  When our behavior is consistent with physical AND mental necessities, we don’t have any problems finishing that report or reading those emails: there’s no laziness, boredom, procrastination or any other forms of detachment and attempts to postpone the inevitable. We simply do what we have in mind. It is really easy. There is a well-known saying that proves it: “The most motivated person is the one who wants to use the bathroom.” We must agree that it is difficult to imagine someone like that being lazy.

The Intrapersonal Conflict

According to Noah Chomsky’s doctrine on dominance, for every person, only one need is relevant at a time, and all human behavior is subordinated to its satisfaction. If during this time a person sets an objective that is not consistent with the urgent need, the “center of dominance” in the cerebral cortex slows down the implementation of the task. Usually, in the form of laziness. In modern psychology, such a situation is called an intrapersonal conflict, the incompatibility of “wants” and  “needs.” Hence, laziness is a form of resistance of your body, which signals that you need to stop and rethink your priorities.

Overcoming Laziness Through Working With Your Needs

Self-reflection is always difficult and purely individual. However, a number of general recommendations will help to resolve the intrapersonal conflict and free up useful energy for reaching your goals.

Step 1: Listen to yourself

Often taking this step is enough to reduce stress and start catching up on with your daily plan.  Instead of updating your social media feed, try to take a short pause and ask yourself the question: “What do I need now?”
It can be difficult to answer the question, and there’s no need to rush. It is important to develop the habit of being attentive to your inner world, and sooner or later you will be able to reflect on your true needs. Notably, the purpose of asking this question is to take control of your laziness, so you will consciously decide when to work and when to rest.

Step 2: Acceptance

Instead of self-flagellation or attempts to “force” yourself, try to listen to your body and respond correctly. When you realize your true actual need, you will have to make a choice: satisfy or ignore it. It is important to decide responsibly: you must fully consider the consequences of your choice. Remember the following:

  • According to the 2019 study of The American Institute of Stress, disregarding your needs can lead to stress, anxiety and fatigue. 
  • By immediately making a choice in favor of satisfying your need, however, you might encounter a number of other consequences (like letting down your colleagues by not doing what you were asked for.) 

In general, the practice of conscious and responsible choice will save you not only from laziness but also from many other problems that give rise to intrapersonal conflicts.

Step 3: Applying adequate techniques

After you understand your needs and make a responsible choice, deal with it. To put it simply, three types of laziness can be distinguished: “I don’t want,” “I can’t” and “I don’t believe I can.” 

The “I don’t want” type occurs when a task doesn’t really look attractive to us (it is uninteresting for our Inner Child, we have no sincere desire to do this.) This option is frequent because nowadays our lifestyle is full of responsibilities we must commit to.

The “I can’t” arises when we don’t have enough physical or mental resources for doing something (for example, we are tired, hungry or too excited.) Such laziness comes for telling us there is no “fuel” for this activity now.  It’s like when you found a course you really want to take, but after a busy day, you don’t have the right amount of energy to concentrate on new information.
The “I don’t believe I can” laziness happens when we set incredibly high standards for ourselves (to do something without mistakes or better than everyone.) And then the so-called “perfectionist paralysis” arises, because the requirements are so impossible to accomplish that it’s easier to do nothing at all than to start and experience failure.

For the option “I don’t want”: 

  • Delegate the task to someone else; 
  • Increase its attractiveness (e.g. reward yourself for the accomplishment); 
  • Switch to an alternative (select an activity from your to-do list that you want to start right now, like “I don’t want to write an article, but I’m ready to do the cleaning”); 
  • Find a meaning (justify the usefulness of this piece of work and how it will allow you to be proud of yourself, look attractive in the eyes of others, etc.)

For the option “I can’t”: 

  • Find out what kind of resource are you currently lacking (strength, clarity of mind, patience, etc.) and how it can be replenished (right now you don’t feel like reading this email but after a cup of coffee, you’ll be ready); 
  • Postpone your deadline, take some rest and get down to work later.

For the option “I don’t believe I can’t”: 

  • Rethink the desired result – make it down-to-earth and realistic; 
  • Solve the problem “in pieces”. Instead of aiming to finish a paper in a week, offer yourself to write an introduction today, the first chapter – tomorrow, and so on. 
Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

And a Universal Tip

  • The Five-Second Rule

Whenever you feel unsure about completing a task, count from 5 to 1. According to Mel Robbins, such a tool will help you concentrate on a certain goal and get rid of anxiety, hesitation or negative thoughts.

Nowadays, social media make us think that every person during quarantine needs to get up at 5:00 a.m., then do yoga, prepare a healthy breakfast and devote the rest of the day to watching webinars and reading books. But that’s just social media. What do YOU want? In the end, laziness is not your enemy, but a great opportunity to actually listen to your desires. Maybe you don’t really need that second job you’ve been thinking about. Maybe it’s time to start pursuing your passion, even when no one understands it or if it sounds crazy. By doing what you truly love, you might eventually boost your productivity without reading a million advice and trying too hard. 

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Olesia Deineka

Communications enthusiast, student and aspiring journalist. United Nations Ideas Youth Ambassador 2019. Assistant project manager in a consultancy. Passionate about self-development and psychology.
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