Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This old chestnut is called Parkinson’s Law.
On slack days we get less done because there is less deadline pressure. We simply allow ourselves to dawdle.
Walking to the bank, mailing a letter and replacing lightbulbs shouldn’t suck up an entire afternoon. But it does when there’s an unstructured afternoon to waste.
If I had the discipline to allow myself one hour for the aforementioned activities, I could spend the rest of the day reading a book, or engaging in some other form of pure leisure. But on most unstructured days I find myself running from the bank to the post office, narrowly sneaking in before they close.
Sound like you?
If you want something done, give it to a busy person. This is the converse of Parkinson’s Law.
When we’re busy we don’t have time to waste, and we have no choice but to find the most efficient, creative, speedy solution.
Why lazy people are the most innovative
There’s a difference between busy, stressed and overworked.
We fetishize productivity, as though there were some alchemic secret which could turn a day’s 24 hours into 30 or more.
Lazy people innovate. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid, either. It just means that hard work isn’t always to answer to every problem.
Lazy people look for the fastest acceptable solution, bang it out and move on. They don’t cram their days with endless activities, and they refuse to apologize for prioritizing humanity over industry. Sounds pretty inventive, if you ask me.
Productivity, as I understand it, is getting the most out of working hours, and being able to step away satisfied. The point of life, after all, isn’t to work one’s fingers to the nub.
Work is about creating something of value, in order to have the rest of your time for your own pursuits.
Many of the entrepreneurs I admire most are married with family responsibilities. I don’t have kids, so I live for myself. The thought of living for someone else must focus the mind in a way that project deadlines and dreams of world domination simply cannot match. And it is for this reason that work and life must be balanced.
But even without kids, or a wife/spouse, life is about being human. Technology is supposed to bring us closer together, but it ends up making us feel more isolated than ever.
When we retreat into work, we often feel like the meaning of the work gives meaning to our existence. When we step away, we don’t know what to do with ourselves for the first few days. At least I don’t.
Busy-ness versus intentionality
Being busy should never be a substitute for being intentional. It’s one thing for us to run off adrenaline as we sprint to get things done. Sometimes adrenaline is even necessary for achieving short-term aims. Adrenaline runs out, and when it does you risk hitting the wall or burning out.
Far better is to be consumed by a passion, and to work on things that matter to you and those aronud you. When you’re busy making the world a better place, you’ll have less trouble stepping away and appreciating all that you have done. To be human is to rest, appreciate and give thanks every once in a while.
You deserve it.
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