I am going to let you in on a little secret. I am a pretty lazy guy. I procrastinate. I daydream. I spend a lot of energy thinking about what I would rather be doing. If I won the lottery I sure as heck wouldn’t be one of those people who decided to keep their job. I like to do what I want, when I want, and I hate having restrictions on my time, or obligations.
I don’t think I am unique in this regard. I think most people, if not all people, would rather work at nothing all day. Deepak Chopra states that the four “Fs” of humanity are feeding, fighting, fleeing, and procreation. Pretty clever, that last one, eh?
Notice that working is not on that list? Putting these four Fs in the terms of our present day society, we can say that we want to eat, watch Ultimate Fighting (we’re lazy remember, let someone else do it), go on vacation (from work), and have sex.
Sadly the world does not work for that way. We live in a world that is based around this little thing known as the economy, and if you want any kind of lifestyle, you must participate in it in some capacity.
“The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”
It would be truly wonderful if we were all blessed with the ability to float through life all the way to death without ever having to concern ourselves with making a living, but alas, few of use are so lucky. Thus, if we wish to pay those taxes, and eat, and have a roof over our head, we had best find a good way to make money.
If you are lazy, the easiest way to participate in the economy is to get a job. This is a fantastically easy way to earn a living because you don’t have to do any of the hard stuff. Someone else will plan your day for you, give you a job description, tell you when to show up, and when you can go home. They’ll even tell you when to eat, when to drink coffee, and maybe even when to pee. They’ll deduct your taxes for you, budget money for your dental care, and maybe if you’re lucky, help you plan for a modest retirement. All you have to do is show up and do what you’re told. It isn’t glamorous, but it is easy.
But what if you really hate being told what to do?
Then you kind of have a problem don’t you? A job just isn’t going to cut it over the long-term. You’ll burn out. You’ll get bored, disgruntled, bitter, angry, grumpy, constipated… …okay maybe not constipated, but the point is you won’t be happy.
In that case your only alternative is to be in business for yourself in some capacity. No matter what sort of business you choose, one fact remains the same: You are now in charge of your own success or failure, and being lazy is not an option.
You must learn to manage your own time
When no one else is around to tell you what to do and when, you have to do it yourself.
- Create a schedule for yourself. You can do this in any way you like. You can use an old-fashioned printed day planner, a spreadsheet on the computer, Google Calendar, anything really. The important part is that you create, and you stick to it. One thing I do recommend is that you print it out and place it in a visible location where you will see it, such as the fridge.
- Create specific productivity targets. No successful company follows a fly by the seat of their pants business model. Every company has specific targets that must be met or exceeded by management and employees. If you are a novelist, your target might be to write two chapters during each work session. If you are in sales, you might set a goal to generate fives new leads per day, and make at least twenty-five follow-up calls.
- Schedule time off. It is just as important to schedule time for leisure as it is for work. If you let your leisure time and work time blur it will become more difficult to keep focussed on work when you need to.
- Overtime is overtime. If you exceed your target during one work session, the not give yourself permission to work less the next time. This will only form bad habits. Treat each day as if the previous one did not exist.
- Have a proper work environment. What kind of environment this is depends greatly on what kind of work you are doing, so I am not going to go into specifics here. What matters is that you are able to stay focussed on the job, and that find the environment inspirational and motivational. It should enhance your productivity, not work against it.
- Love what you do. Paul Piotrowski (note: I deleted this link as Paul’s blog has devolved into network marketing BS and shilling for the scam “Global Information Network. If you want to see his article, you’ll have to search it yourself) has written a fantastic article recently on willpower. In it he included a graph that shows the point when habit takes over from willpower. In brief, willpower only lasts for a few weeks, after which force of habit takes over and keep you on track. The problem is that if you do not enjoy what you are doing, you will never form a habit, and when your will wear out, you’re done.
- Do not be too rigid. The entire point of being in control of your own time is to be in control of your own time. If scheduling your day down to the hour does not work for you, then try simply scheduling tasks for the entire day, or even weekly. They key is to be consistent, not constrictive.
It doesn’t just apply to business
This article has focussed on business/making money, because that is generally where most people have difficulty staying focussed on not getting lazy. But the truth is time management is useful in all aspects of life.
For instance, you need to schedule time for exercise. As with work, it need not be a rigid schedule if that does not work for you. In my case, my gym schedule is simply this: I will go to the gym at least three days per week with one day of rest in between. You might find that works for you too, or you might find it easier to say you will go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before breakfast. Whatever system you use, stick with it.
A brief summary of a typical day for me
Because I wear many hats (that is, I mix it up and work on several different projects at once) my days vary greatly from one day to the next, but what follow is a brief summary of my typical Thursday. You’ll notice that I keep my schedule very loose, the exception being of course when I have a set appointment with a client.
8am to 9am: I wake up. I take my time having breakfast, showering, and getting ready for the day.
9am to 12pm: I go to the gym. I do a full body workout, almost entirely based on strength training.
12pm to 5pm: This is a large block of time, and I consider it a free period. I will often just use it as leisure time, but I will also work on this website or do some writing, which is pleasurable for me,so even though it is work, I consider it a leisure activity.
5pm to 8pm: Client calls. I do this in the evening because that it when my clients are home. Most of these calls are follow-up calls, though some are first contact. My goal is always to call every client file that is flagged as due in my system, with second priority being to call as many new clients as possible. If I have an in person meeting with a client during this time, it will of course be scheduled explicitly.
8pm to 9pm: Dinner time.
9pm onwards: Leisure time again.
You may have noticed that I do not explicitly schedule time to write for this website. As a noted earlier I do this in my free time, and because I enjoy doing it so much, it is not presently something I need to force myself to do. I am able to write when the mood strikes me. This has not always been the case, I have gone through periods where I have not been motivated to write. If that happens again, I will begin scheduling specific period for article writing.
A day plan does not have to be a day plan
Depending on what sort of work you do, you may have the luxury of doing it at any time of day. I for instance do most of my work in the evenings. But you could take it further than that. If you enjoy staying up late, and your situation allows it, you could plan your activities into the night. Some would say that living a nocturnal lifestyle is not healthy, but I disagree, if it works for you, do it.
Personally I have found that when I am forced to wake up early, I become severely fatigued within a few days, and it then takes me several more days to recover. During this time I am very unproductive, I simply do not have the energy to do anything. I am not able to easily go to sleep early, it is not natural for me.
In contrast, if I am able to sleep until a reasonable hour, I am a different person, I awake refreshed, my mind is alert, and I am eager to accomplish my goals. I even find it easier to go to bed at night.
I believe we all have a natural rhythm, and if you are able to successfully incorporate yours into your day-to-day life, things will get much easier.
If you still can’t stop yourself from being lazy
If you still find yourself being lazy, even after taking steps to create some structure to your life, then it is time to consider the possibility that you are not on the correct path in life. Re-evaluate what your goals are, and take some steps to attract into your life money through a means you enjoy.