THE BLOG
09/30/2014 08:27 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Art of Creative Laziness

2014-09-22-lazyness.jpgWhich of these two scenarios best describes you?

Each day you attempt to maximize productivity by completing as many tasks as humanly possible, to the point of exhaustion.

Or, you complete tasks deemed of highest importance and once done, you feel peaceful about spending the remainder of your day on yourself, on activities that matter to you.

The second scenario describes a growing trend of workers who are redefining what it means to be productive during any given day.

Yet some, falling into the more traditional way of life/work patterns, find these individuals lazy. After all, who finishes their workday at 2 p.m. or dares to spend a leisurely lunch catching up with friends during the middle of the week?

Laziness has such a negative connotation when considered independently of the context it is placed within. But is there ever a time where laziness could play an important role in your daily plan?

Yes! Creative laziness can and does play an important role within the lives of successful, and more importantly, happy, productive people.

Creative laziness doesn't describe doing absolutely nothing or wasting life's valuable time. What it does describe is planned, focused time dedicated toward not rushing, feeling overwhelmed or a sense of gnawing dissatisfaction. Creative laziness allows us not to do, but to be.

To begin building your own pathway toward creative laziness, here are five easy steps to follow:

-- Ask yourself: Does it really need to get done?

Don't find yourself in a position of feeling constantly overwhelmed by what seems like a never-ending, never-shrinking to-do list. Get into the habit of asking yourself this question about every task; not everything has to get done. If you find yourself answering this question with a resounding "no," simply delete this task from your to-do list and move on.

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, suggests that 20 percent of our efforts drive 80 percent of our results. Focus your time and energy on tasks that matter and give yourself permission to ignore or delete those that do not. And remember, not everything that needs to be done has to be completed right now.

-- Ask yourself: Can someone else complete the task (aka can you outsource it)?

Don't be a hero; not every task must and should be completed by you. As you begin each day, review your list of to-dos (which should now be shorter as you have eliminated unnecessary items) and consider whether someone else could complete any of the tasks as well as you, on your behalf. Delegate those tasks to others to free up personal time.

-- Tackle your to-do list strategically.

Often, the most important tasks we need to complete during any given day are the ones that we most dread -- and they're usually the ones we avoid completing. Not only do we often avoid these tasks, we typically spend a great deal of time and energy fretting or thinking about these things.

Begin your day completing the task(s) that are most critical to achieving success. Following this simple suggestion will not only free up additional time for you to enjoy being lazy, but will put you in a better state of mind throughout the remainder of your day.

-- Allow yourself to have daily stopping points.

How do you know when your day is wrapped up? Are you finished when the clock displays a specific time? Or, are you finished when the tasks of highest importance have been completed? When do you allow yourself to relax, to kick back and be lazy?

Clearly define what a successful day looks like for you. Then, once you have achieved this definition, allow yourself to enjoy some much earned down time -- without feeling guilty.

-- Schedule free time.

This doesn't imply that you must fill up every moment, of every day, with some sort of activity. Instead, it means the exact opposite. Each day ought to have time dedicated to being lazy -- recharging, if you will. Without scheduled "down time," preferably daily if not weekly, you are likely to run out of steam -- the essence of "burnout."

What you choose to do during your allocated free time will be dependent upon what you believe or feel is relaxing to you. Reading, watching TV, taking a bubble bath, meditating, practicing self hypnosis, or simply sitting outdoors and mindfully taking in your surroundings are just a few of the things you may choose as your form of daily creative laziness.

You don't have to live your life rushing around like a busy little bee or a racing car driver, throttle to the floor all of the time! With focus and dedication, you can regain control of your life's calendar and allow yourself to spend more time being creatively lazy.

Do this and you'll enjoy the beauty of simply being -- and of being alive.

"Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing." -- Lao Tzu

Peter Field is a UK registered psychotherapist and board certified hypnotherapist. His hypnotherapy Birmingham and London clinics provide hypno-psychotherapy services for a wide range of issues. His new book The Chi of Change focuses on the fascinating world of hypnotherapy.