“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.”~Denis Waitley
I am prepared for the onslaught of disagreements when I say the following.
There is no such thing as laziness. Laziness doesn’t exist.
But I can see why some might disagree. After all, you can find it in the English dictionary. Let’s see what Merriam-Webster dictionary has to say about it. It defines laziness as: “disinclined to activity or exertion.”
Now, let’s look up procrastination. Procrastination is “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.”
How to Overcome Laziness
It seems to me that the “lazy” people really are just putting off the important things that need to be done. In other words, people aren’t really lazy. People are just procrastinating under the pretense of laziness.
4 Ways to Overcome Laziness
Now, maybe you’re convinced. Perhaps not. But let’s believe I’m right for a moment. If laziness really is just procrastination in disguise, what can you do about it? How can you overcome laziness?
1. Redefine Your Identity
It’s so easy for someone to say I’m just a really lazy person and let that justify their shortcomings.
What “lazy people” have done is incorporate all the traits of “laziness” into their identity and they now identify with it.
And when you’ve done this, it becomes the easiest excuse to fall back on. You don’t get any homework done because you’re feeling lazy tonight. Or maybe you skipped the gym two mornings in a row because you have been feeling particularly lazy this week.
Laziness is just a self-fulfilling loop of procrastination!
Rather, try this instead: reframe the situation.
Rather than using laziness as an act of being, look at the situation as an act of doing—or rather not doing. You’re making a conscious choice to not get the important stuff done.
Ask yourself: are you choosing to spend the rest of your day in bed indulging your munchies and watching Netflix all day?
Are you choosing to take at least one step forward in achieving your goals?
2. Control Your Environment
When completing my undergrad, I took a Legal Psychology class and one chapter that intrigued me was about interrogation and the psychological techniques that professionals use to elicit a confession from the guilty.
Interrogators have many techniques in their arsenal (good cop, bad cop, evidence ploys, exculpatory scenarios) but believe it or not: one effective tactic does not involve any speaking technique at all.
In effect before anybody enters the room and before the interrogation even begins. It starts with the physical space itself.
A cold, bare room. Small. Soundproof. Only three chairs.
This setup heightens induces isolation, unfamiliarity, and a lack of control. It makes you want to leave. And the quickest escape for the guilty is a confession to the crime.
Okay, I know you’re probably wondering what the heck this information has to do with conquering laziness and procrastination.
I’ll tell you: it is to manipulate your environment. Like how interrogation rooms induce anxiety and isolation, you also can also adjust your physical space to encourage productivity and clarity.
If you work from home and space is cluttered with paperwork, unwashed dishes, and dirty laundry, it can be incredibly distracting. Clear the space to promote a clear mind.
Or maybe you work in a busy coffee shop and your focus is interrupted by every new visitor walking through the door. Next time, sit in a corner facing a wall to eliminate this distraction.
We can’t always summon the Muse of creativity and focus but we can certainly use our environment as an invitation.
3. 1% Progress Over Procrastination
What big goals have you set for yourself recently?
This month, I decided that I want to exercise every morning before work.
Despite my best intentions, that irresistible snooze button sometimes wins and lulls me back to sleep. I’m sad to say that procrastination sometimes gets the best of me.
However, I recently finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and learned the value of daily 1% improvements. So, every time I fail to exercise in the morning, I always, always, always at least go for a walk during the evening.
The point is that I don’t end my days with a big fat zero. Every point counts.
And I know that little steps lack the satisfaction of huge strides but I think many of us forget to factor in the element of time.
If you have the patience to see things through, you will see things get done.
4. The Power of Patience
The best way to overcome the vice that is procrastination is to practice the virtue that is patience.
Patience in the process and patience with ourselves.
Too often, we expect overnight results and we lose faith in the work we’ve done. This is when we start resigning ourselves to failure. Disappointed with our progress, we slip back into old habits and get lazy. Why try at all?
Blame it on laziness.
Let’s believe for a moment that the word laziness has been wiped from the dictionary and banished from existence.
Whether you’re a student, or a professional, or an educator, or an entrepreneur, or a father, or a mother, or a soldier …
All that exists is you and the task at hand.
You can push it back again and again—postpone your goals and dreams indefinitely.
Or you can do it now. Every single day. Committing to yourself and enduring the process to see things through to the end of the tunnel.
What will you do?