I have met many people who think laziness is simply not being able to get something done, or simply procrastinating. But the fact is that laziness goes beyond this. As a result, many people are lazy and are not aware that they are. At the time they get appraisal from their employer and find a report that attests directly/indirectly that they are lazy, they end up concluding that their boss is not being fair. However, knowing exactly what the term means will help one to be able to assess themselves rightly.
Laziness is the state in which one deliberately or involuntarily fails to give a task what it requires to meet required specifications. The fact is that the dictionary does not define it this way. The dictionary says laziness is “unwilling to do any work or make an effort.” I do not agree with this because I have employed and worked with many people who are willing to work and are at the same time lazy.
This is the kind of laziness that plagues employees of organizations. Whenever I have training sessions with staff of various organizations, I usually take time to interact with those who have challenges with their jobs. During these sessions, I noticed that one of the most common reasons many employees are disgruntled is laziness.
Take this scenario as an example.
Oladele works in a laundry firm and is required to wash 100 pieces of clothes per day. However as a result of another staff of the firm calling in sick, Oladele’s supervisor informs him and the other 4 employees available that they will need to do a little extra work to meet up with the delivery they are scheduled to make to customers the following day. Oladele however could not finish the extra quota (20 extra pieces) he was asked to wash. He finished his “normal” day’s job and left.
By the following day, the delivery guys could not find some clothes that were supposed to be delivered to customers. When the supervisor asked all those who were supposed to do some extra work yesterday, it was discovered that Oladele was the one who didn’t finish his allocation.
Infuriated, the supervisor reported the case to the General Manager. The General Manager quickly called someone from his long list of shortlisted candidates. By the following Monday, Oladele was fired without pay.
Everyone Oladele told this story empathized with him. “That is not fair,” they all claimed.
Lets do a little analysis;
The above is not why he was fired. He was fired because
You may want to give some excuses on behalf of Oladele but the truth is that he was lazy. Remember the definition of laziness above. We said it “is the state in which one deliberately or involuntarily fails to give a task what it requires to meet required specifications.”
Laziness Type 2 is different from the type 1 kind of laziness which mainly plagues employees. Type 2 laziness plagues people who are self-employed and those in some form of business and are answerable to no one but themselves.
Consider this Scenario
Donald is an electrical contractor. He executed his last electric contract 3 months ago. Since that day, he has been putting off when next he should move around to do some marketing so he can clinch the next contract. He has tried to get solutions to his problem of wanting to just sit by the TV and get drowsy all day. He has even googled things like “How to Beat Procrastination”, “How to Overcome Procrastination”, “How to Stop Being Too Tired”, “How to Get Motivated for Work”, and so on. Yet the articles have not helped him.
As you can see, Donald’s problem right now is not procrastination. But it most likely started that way. He has been lazy. He is now finding it difficult to give what he needs to give to his business so he can get the next contract.
What exactly do you need to do? What size? What colour? What language? What height? What width? What speed? What exactly is required? Where? When? How do you want it? Hot or cold? Mild or peppery? Sweet or bitter? Ask every question you need to ask so that you will be able to put in the required effort. Anthony Robins said that your success is directly proportional to the quality of the questions you ask. Imagine you are able to ask many quality questions. I daresay that the more quality questions you ask, the more quality your work can be.
One of the most frequent reasons good employees are not able to make the progress they should be making in their organizations is the fact that they just work executing one after another without the ultimate objective in mind. Employers do not think or work this way. The objectives are always before their eyes. So when next you are given a task by your employer, seek to know the objectives of the tasks. What will the successful completion or execution of this task contribute to the big picture? If you have answer to the question above every time you are given a task to execute, your approach and your results will be far from average.
When you are given a task at work, start with a strategy. This is simply thinking it through first before you actually start executing. First figure out in your mind how you want to go about the task. Play it in your mind first. Then, start “achieving” it on Paper. This approach will help you to “try out” various approaches on paper first to see if they will work before you start wasting your time and energy making mistakes. Engaging in this activity before executing any task will increase your success rate by over 50%. The truth is that it is quite difficult to achieve anything in reality if you cannot achieve it on paper.
I do not need to say much here. If the task you have been given to perform requires input from other people, find them. And when you do, do not hesitate to ask them for their help. The fact is that if you take the time to create a strategy on paper, you will know the kind of person(s) you need to contact and exactly what you will need from them. Do not hesitate. Call them before hand. Send them follow up messages. In order to avoid errors, you can even decide to schedule reminder emails to the delivered on future dates to the person(s).
I first got to understand the power of feedback when I worked with my mentor some years ago. The moment you start executing a task or a project, start sending feedback to your boss or customer. Doing this will help them to guide you to the results, sometimes without them even knowing it. In total quality management, it is said that if the process is excellent, the results will also be excellent. While relaying feedback in the process of executing your task, your boss can spot an error you will otherwise not notice and put you right to save you the frustration or rework or total rejection. There are exceptions to this as many employers are always more interested in the results than in the process. With the right attitude and personality, they can listen to you.
When it comes to executing a task that is given to you by someone else, it is very important to relay feedback. It is also important to ask for adjustment when it becomes obvious that things will not go as planned. And also when it starts seeming like the results you are about to get do not match the expectations of your boss, find a way to have a conversation with them. One of the most important constraints when it comes to managing a project is TIME. So as soon as it becomes obvious that you will not hit the deadline, ask for an adjustment. After all, one of the costs of quality is the “time to do it right.” If your boss insists on the deadline they asked for in the first place, they will at least make you “see” how it can be met. You will somehow find motivation in whatever response they give to you.
Don’t stop until you are done. I like something I read on Instagram some weeks ago. It was posted by Brad of Build Your Empire. He used the alphabets of the word FOCUS to make a sentence. The sentence reads;
This is it. Keep at it until you are done!
One of the tasks employees find the most difficult is that of writing reports. What is the way out? Write the report immediately! Writing a report immediately reduces the effort you need (to beat inertia) to start it and complete it by over 50%. It also makes your report more detailed and comprehensive. Your recommendations will also be on point because you are not just trying to fill in the blanks – you actually have something (fresh) to say.
The approach to defeating this kind of laziness is not the same when trying to defeat Laziness Type 1. While the type 1 kind of laziness mainly plagues employees, the type 2 laziness plagues people who are self-employed and those in some form of business and are answerable to no one but themselves.
There are those times when it seems like you are tired for … forever. When the tiredness first kicked in, you thought all you needed was to rest for two days, or one week tops. But its been over two weeks now and you are still “tired”! You are beginning to feel a little scared because it seems as though you may never get out of that “couch situation” you’ve found yourself.
Trust me I’ve been in this same situation before – many times! How do I get out? I put my objectives back in front of me and think about what I will lose if I didn’t achieve them.
This is why you need to define your objectives. Have them written down. In this way, you will always be able to consult that document whenever you need to get yourself on your feet.
As humans, we evolve and keep changing all the time. If your objectives are seeming too big for you at this time, the tendency of putting work off “till a more favourable time” becomes very high. So what do you do? You review the objectives again and break them down into manageable chunks. For example, if one of your objectives in a particular period is to write the content of a particular website, break that down into the various components of the website. You can decide to do “About us” one day and “What We Do” or “Services” another day.
In this way, you will be able to see the task in a clearer way.
At every point in time, always ask yourself “what should I be doing right now?” I get very uncomfortable when I ask myself that question. That drives me out of my comfort zone. It gets me back on that desk.
Your accountability partner(s) will ask you about your project any time they get the opportunity. So, have accountability partners for your projects. They could be your family, friends, your boss or a neighbor. Anyone who you perceive to be interested in your success can be your accountability partner. Tell them what you want to achieve and let them know when you have planned to achieve it. In this way, they will ask about how your plans are coming.
One of the most active fuels of this kind of laziness is addiction to some form of distraction. Most times, when the victim first decides to “rest” from exhaustion, this is not a problem. As the “rest” gradually becomes laziness, the distraction becomes an addiction. Many times, the distraction is TV. Sometimes, its a computer game. What are you supposed to do? Turn it off. Remove the TV power cord and in extreme cases, damage the cord. You can also decide to turn the TV to face the wall. This is painful but you have to get your productivity mojo back on.
Whatever it is that is fueling your laziness can be turned into an incentive for your productivity. For example if it is TV as we have discussed above, turn it off and make it your reward for completing a particular task. Tell yourself that if you finish a particular task, you will allow yourself to watch 30 minutes TV. Be disciplined at it. If you have someone around, let them in your plan. Let them keep the power cord of your addiction and allow you to only enjoy it when your objectives are met.
Ask yourself “what will I lose if I do not complete these tasks? This is very important because sometimes if what you will gain is not powerful enough to move you out of the couch, thinking of what you will lose might just help. So when next you are writing down your goals/objectives/vision, also create a table with two columns in which you will write a list “What I will Benefit” and “What I will Lose”.