How often are you lazy? Chances are, you should be lazy more often!
Recently I was staring down a busy day of meetings and client deliverables when I stepped out to enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck overlooking my acreage. Over the past few months, I’ve been particularly grateful for the solitude and peacefulness of the land. I’ve soaked in its gradual growth as it has changed from snow to budding trees to full bloom. So, even with a daunting task list, I sat down instead and allowed my mind to wander.
In our busy world—with its emphasis on success and productivity—we often equate rest and peacefulness with laziness.
If we’re not constantly busy, we feel guilty.
And while productivity isn’t a bad thing in itself, of course, we should also value rest and idleness. Otherwise, we can end up feeling exhausted and deprived.
I certainly faced my internal voice that day, the one saying, “You’re being lazy! You don’t have time to just sit here!” But then I suddenly had an idea and a moment of clarity regarding a new client initiative. I was able to prioritize my tasks and leave the deck feeling refreshed and motivated.
There was a reason my brain chose that quiet moment to connect my spinning ideas and bring clarity. One study confirms that when our attention is at rest, our mind wanders to a variety of places, including the future (48% of the time), the present (28% of the time), and the past (12% of the time). The remaining time, we aren’t temporally focused at all.
So, before you fill every hour of every day with tasks from your to-do list, don’t forget to prioritize your down time. An idle—or lazy—mind allows us to do valuable things:
When resting, we don’t have to regulate our attention. Our energy is restored, allowing for deep, focused work later.
Make Order Out of Chaos
When you’re in the midst of a flurry of activity, there’s no time to prioritize tasks. You’re too busy working on making progress. Intentionally seeking quiet time allows you to examine your needs and figure out some semblance of order.
Plan for the Future
We think about the future 14 times more often when our attention is free to roam rather than focusing on one thing. Therefore, we are unintentionally focusing on long-term goals and strategy.
When was the last time you had a lightbulb “aha!” moment? Chances are it wasn’t when you were under a stressful deadline! It likely happened during a moment of quiet time. Because our wandering mind allows us to connect our past, present, and future thoughts, we’re able to access our creative ideas more easily.
No one can avoid all stress, but there are some ways you can mitigate it. One way to reduce stress is to carve out time for quiet time. The point isn’t the length of your quiet time, but rather giving quiet time its proper place in your life. Quiet time nourishes your body and soul, leaving you to return to your tasks refreshed and energized.
Don’t underestimate the power of doing absolutely nothing. It’s these moments that give us the greatest return on our investment of time and energy. It’s when creativity bubbles up, when business needs get answered, and when planning solidifies. So, instead of being hard on yourself for “doing nothing,” accept that laziness is an integral part of renewal, growth, and the simple joy of living.
What have you accomplished during a moment of absolute laziness?
Michelle Kelly, CEO (Chief Enjoyment Officer)