Designing for laziness: How top performers keep winning, in spite of human nature

Designing for laziness: How top performers keep winning, in spite of human nature

We’ve been raised to think of laziness (or sloth) as a sin, but B. J. Fogg, a behavior scientist and researcher at Stanford has found that it is merely a fact of life, and we need to treat it as such.

The difference between the people who continually achieve their goals and those that don’t lies in how we handle our “lazy days.”

Top performers have learnt to expect laziness and prepare for it before it even happens. It is commonplace for us to be brimming with ideas and energy when we make plans or start new projects, however motivation is fickle and we can not control or predict how we will feel throughout the duration of the project.

Our power lies in the ability to simplify the task at hand as much as we possibly can so that even on our worst days, we are able to push ourselves to execute. 

How to design for laziness

1. Environmental Cues: 

The environment that you’re working in directly affects your productivity and sometimes your motivation too. Knowing this, you can eliminate the foreseeable distractions like noise, interruption from other people, notifications from your digital devices and so on.

It also helps to have all your tools and necessary information easily accessible at all times. This means less work for you in general, which naturally translates into being able to conserve your “lazy day” energy and focus it on the more important tasks.

Creating a to-do list and fixed schedule likewise helps with mental preparation because you already know what you need to do and when, so it’s more likely that you’ll get to work and not waste time on unimportant tasks that will eat away at your time and energy without moving you towards your goals.

2. Personal Cues:

On a more personal level, it is important for us to observe our work patterns and figure out when and where we are most efficient.

Some people work best in the quiet of the night. Some need a tall cup of coffee. Some have more focus and clarity after a session at the gym. Knowing when you are most likely to be productive helps you to prepare in advance and schedule your most important tasks accordingly.

In addition, consciously keeping track of your work habits and patterns may even reveal that your “lazy days” have simple fixes and you don’t need to suffer through them anymore!


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