Former Lazy People Share How They Overcame Their Laziness
Let’s face it, getting out of bed in the morning can be a real struggle. Now that I think about it, so is working out, doing the dishes, making the bed, maintaining a skincare routine… Well, there are a lot of things out there that’d we’d love to put off, but that doesn’t do us any good. These people share how they overcame their laziness and why they’re better for it.
#1 Standing Up
When I get home from work, I immediately empty my bag, start making dinner, sort mail, etc. If I sit down, I’m done for — I will sit there until I finally eat some peanut butter crackers and go to bed. As long as I don’t sit, I will accomplish a lot simply while dinner cooks — unload the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen floor, pay some bills, throw in a load of laundry, etc.
#2 Identifying as Such
I’ve heard that if you call yourself a lazy person, you will consistently identify as such. You’ll also self-fulfill the prophecy of being lazy. However, if you change the way you say it and tell yourself you’re “feeling” lazy, it becomes an actionable thing you can overcome more easily. I told myself to stop being lazy.
#3 Making Lists
Lists. If you write lists, especially in a very visible place, it makes it easier to accomplish daily, monthly, and annual tasks. When I was in college, I bought a whiteboard and mounted it in the living room of my apartment. My GPA went up a full point by the time I graduated. So, I’ve been using lists ever since.
#4 Three, Two, One
The “three, two, one” philosophy has changed the game for me. “Three, two, one… go. Get out of bed. Or go to work. Or try not to pull a U-turn and call in sick to work. This also works in anxiety-inducing situations. If you have to send a risky text, “three, two, one… go.” If you have to open a bill, do the same thing.
#5 Up and At ‘Em
Download Alarmy. Jesus, me trying to get out of bed in the morning was near useless, but with this app, it forces you to either solve a few math puzzles to turn off the alarm. Or you can set a random barcode in the house that you have to take a picture off to disable it. You can’t mute or turn off the alarm until you complete the task.
#6 Less Than Two
The philosophy of “if a task takes less than two minutes, do it.” If things pile up then you’ll never be motivated to finish your chores, let alone do anything else than procrastinate. Seriously, if something takes less than two or even five minutes, do it! You’ll realize how much gets done and you’ll definitely be less lazy.
#7 Planning Well
Don’t overcome it, harness it. Laziness is only a vice if you let it control you. The trick is to game it. Do a few tasks now that save you time down the road. So by being less lazy in the moment, you can be even lazier later. One of my big ones is to prepare a huge pot of some food I particularly like on Sunday and then just make it my primary intake for the rest of the week. If I plan well, I can go entire days without needing to put on pants.
#8 Driven People
Being around driven and accomplished people. I realized the joy they felt after they accomplished a milestone was far greater than any happiness I felt by doing nothing. When they rested, they rested and when they partied, they partied hard. It was amazing to see people living edge to edge on life and pushing themselves to their limits because they could . I’ve always wondered what I can do. It may not be as great as them, but it’s better than if I’d done nothing. And I can build on successes.
#9 Digging for Gold
I try to make a little game out of chores I hate. Cleaning the cat box became an archeology dig for me as a kid; I would pretend I was scooping precious fossils for a museum or something. I still pretend that I’m doing that when cleaning the cat box; it’s much more interesting than scooping my cat’s number twos.
#10 Possible Now
For me, it was when I went on antidepressants. They provide enough of a boost that willpower becomes effective again. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still want to lay in bed all day and do the dishes tomorrow. However, listening to the inner voice and actually kicking myself out of bed is finally possible now.
#11 Lazy is a Label
I changed my method of thinking. One of the things I do is appreciate the effort. When you do something, give yourself some credit. That matters. Remind yourself that taking care of your life, in all aspects of it, is a benefit to you. You are worth taking care of. Lazy is a label, it’s not a word that defines who you are. You’re either doing what needs to be done, or you make the choice not to. Make the choice to do it. Be proud of how productive you are while feeling good about the mindset.
Additionally, challenge your brain to be hyper-efficient. How can you optimize your time in a given moment, to get the max things that need to get done in the shortest amount of time? You have 10 things that need to get done, you only completed five. You still completed five things. Next time, you have a target for improvement.
#12 Taking Care of Myself
I personally stopped heavily relying on others to do stuff for me. I got away from all of the people who allowed me to be lazy. I joined the Navy for a few years and obviously learned how to take care of myself. Remember, you just have to be responsible for you first. You can’t keep turning to others to help you.
#13 Starting a Routine
I started a routine. I woke up at the same time every day and set up my day in chunks of time. I’d recommend the same for others. Nothing crazy, don’t plan out every hour or anything. But right before you go to bed, make a list of things you need to accomplish the next day. It’s really helped me get a lot more done and be productive.
#14 Rooted in Fear
My parents are literally the laziest people I’ve ever met. Growing up, things were a lot worse than they had to be. After moving out, I realized a lot of their bad habits had been instilled in me and my siblings. So, I guess my work ethic came from wanting a way more quality life. I get commended all the time for my hard work, but it really stems from fear of returning to that lifestyle.
#15 To the Watering Hole
I finally figured out that if I drink lots of water on the way home, I’ll eventually need to get up to use the restroom. Once I’m up, I start doing stuff. Also, kids wanting me to cook them dinner is a great motivator to get up again. As long as I do stuff with them, I’m moving. I also do this to myself on weekends or days I’m in the office. I drink plenty of water, so I have to get up from my office chair, then I might throw like five pushups in there before I sit back down.
#16 Developed a System
Making lists has significantly helped me curb my laziness. I’ve developed this system of making notes with a multi-color pen where I’ll make the tick box red next to the instructions in black. This makes the tasks on a random page of notes stand out more. It also increases the satisfaction of ticking them off by 50%.
#17 Semi-Successful Career
I’ve converted my laziness to efficiency. The last thing I want to spend my day doing is scrubbing some useless database. So instead, I learn how to use macros so the database can scrub itself. Now, I can be lazy and I learned a new skill. Bonus points: Draft an email to your boss telling him you completed your task, but delay the message to be sent closer to the deadline. Congratulations. You just bought yourself some more lazy time. Keep that up and before you know it, you’ll be eligible for retirement from a semi-successful career while having not done much of anything.
#18 Younger Self
I don’t know about anyone else, but I like to check in with myself every so often. I like to ask myself what would a younger version think of me right now? Would he look up to me or be disappointed? I don’t want to disappoint any version of myself, so that usually provides me with the motivation to try my next task.
#19 The Deeper Meaning
Stop thinking about yourself as lazy. That’s a label that you’ve picked up somewhere along the way that stuck, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. Start to get curious about why you don’t want to do certain things, or put your full effort into them. Do you have unconscious fears around what might happen if you did? Be curious and non-judgmental with yourself. Once you start to understand why you don’t do certain things, you may start to discover reasons to do them after all.
#20 Lacking the Confidence
About the big stuff, I realized I wasn’t really lazy, I was just afraid of failure and lacked confidence. I think my subconscious logic was that I shouldn’t bother to try because I was likely to fail and end up in the same place anyway, so why put in the effort? As cliché as it sounds, what got me out of that was to think of “failures” as practice runs for whatever I wanted so I could learn to do it again differently until I got it right.
I also trained myself to feel excited about potentially positive outcomes, rather than dwelling on the possible negative ones. Another simple thing that keeps me trying is thinking about what my Ph.D. advisor said about applying for grants. “There is only one way I know to guarantee that you won’t get a grant, and that’s not to apply for it at all.” It’s a pretty good counter to my old argument of, “Why try if I am going to fail anyway?”
#21 Breaking Down
A great thing to start trying is to actually start breaking your tasks down until they take two minutes to complete. Sooner or later, you’ll notice that everything only takes two minutes, so you just do them. At the end of the day, this makes it far easier to fit things in when you have a couple of extra minutes.
#22 Might as Well
One recent revelation that I had about motivation and action was that so much of what I decided to do was based on whether or not I was sitting. Sounds kind of dumb, but, you know. Do I need more water? Yeah, but I’ll get it next time I get up. Do I need to check my work email? Yeah, but I’ll check it next time I get up. Do I need to chop those veggies for dinner? Yeah, but I’ll do it when I get up.
It’s inertia. I don’t want to put in the effort to start something if I’m already at rest. I enjoy rest. So, I started to turn it to my advantage, at least a little. I sit on my butt, at rest, for as long as I please. Eventually, I will have to get up. Everybody needs to go to the bathroom sometime, right? So instead of just going to the bathroom, doing one thing while I’m up, I do two things. Doesn’t matter what they are. I’m standing, so I’m in action. I don’t push myself or go on cleaning sprees or anything, but once I’m up, I just think, “I might as well do this while I’m up.”
#23 Just Get Started
I tell myself to just get started, or just do a part of it. I don’t have to finish everything — whether it’s writing and paper or doing the dishes. I just get started for a little while. Sometimes, I don’t finish or even get much done, but what I did do was way better than what I had, which was nothing. But often, once I get started, things just flow and it’s much easier than I thought.
#24 A Mini Pact
I always use the 10-second trick. Close your eyes and count to 10 while taking deep breaths. When you hit 10, open your eyes and do whatever it is you were avoiding. It’s like I made a little mini pact with myself and followed through. The key is that you have to do it once 10 hits. If you just don’t, then you’ve broken the pact and the cycle of procrastination takes over. It sounds lame, but I started doing it when I got really depressed and was having trouble with even basic stuff. Eventually, you create a cycle of doing instead of not doing and it gets easier.
#25 Helping Others
Do it for someone else that loves you. A healthier lifestyle means you’ll be around and be useful for longer. Do it for your child, for your parents or for your partner. I did it because I fell in love and I didn’t want to have to look at my fat butt in wedding pictures forever. Laziness was just one thing I had to overcome. But now that I made the change, I keep it up because I just can’t imagine going back to how things used to be.
#26 Moving Each Rock
I used to have crippling procrastination problems. I overcame it by only committing to the smallest tasks because motivation is all about momentum. When I really don’t want to go running, I start by putting on running clothes, then go back to browsing Reddit. Now that I’m dressed, I can at least get myself to go outside for a walk (not a run). Even if I never actually run, a walk is great for my mood – but I always ended up running. I procrastinated because I looked at the mountain and focused on how insurmountable it would be to move. But moving each rock is a little easier than moving the last.
#27 Early Bird
I used to sleep in until right when I would have to leave for work. Then my girlfriend moved in. She wakes up at 6:00 a.m. to go to work. She likes me to walk her to her car in the morning, which is right outside. I don’t mind, but that means I have to wake up as well. So while she’s getting ready, I’ll make us coffee. I’m not going to go back to bed, I’m already up, so I’ll play some video games. Sometimes I’ll clean the house. Now I go to bed at 10 because I’m exhausted after working until 5:00 and being up at 6:00. Now, I get more housework done than ever before.
#28 Challenging Yourself
I developed a system of life. I had to find a “minimum required effort.” Of course, I had my flaws, and sometimes I fell below this requirement. In school, we live (hopefully) and learn. I did fine in school, but eventually I had no reason to give effort other than work for my home and sleep in that home. So I challenged myself to finish college and I’m currently in the process.
#29 The Little Things
My brother (30s) asked my dad (50s) what he can do to stop being depressed and get more done. My dad, in all of his simple wisdom, told him this: every morning when you get up, make your bed. That way you always start off your dad having accomplished something. It seems kind of silly, but it actually helps. When you start your day with a sense of accomplishment, it helps build the motivation to continue getting things done. I find that when you force yourself to just start on the small tasks, you form a kind of momentum that keeps you working till you’re done.
#30 Picking Up Habits
It’s not that I was hanging around unaccomplished people, but I’ve recently become really close friends with this girl with crazy energy and organizational skills. They just sort of rubbed off on me over time. I’ve spent most of my life thinking I was a lazy, messy person because I was never able to muster the energy to stay on top of things. I’d organize something and it would be a mess again by the end of the day. Eventually, I just picked up enough of her habits. One day, I looked around my house and it was clean and organized.
#31 Doing it for Them
I dropped out of university because I couldn’t motivate myself to work for me and would rather go out than do my work. Now, a few years later, I’ve gone and got my coaching badges and run a coaching setup for junior badminton that has built up from six kids to nearly 60 now. The entire difference has been that I did it for the kids, not for me. So if I put it off then I’m letting them down and I can’t just wave off missing my own deadlines.
#32 Keeping a Schedule
I put things on my calendar, and my phone tells me a day in advance before I need to do it. Time to change and wash sheets? I get a notification for it. Scheduling my life helps me from being too lazy. Plus, if I keep doing things as they come up instead of letting them pile up, it feels like less work to do what I need to do.
#33 Activating Yourself
I was pretty lazy until my mid-thirties. Nothing cataclysmic happened, one day my sleep patterns had accidentally rolled back around to 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. somehow. Coincidentally, I began training to lose weight at that time by jogging every morning for 20 minutes. I discovered I felt so much better during the day than before. I loved having all that extra sunlight to enjoy. So, essentially I realized that building a routine in the mornings is the key to dismantling laziness and “activating” yourself for each day.
#34 Distracting the Monkey
I’m lazy in the little things, mostly because I have ADHD and my mind can’t shut up for more than two seconds if it’s not interested. What has helped me immensely, both for work and for myself, is to invest in a comfortable headphone and start listening to podcasts. The part of my brain that’s like a hyperactive monkey is distracted and I can actually get stuff done.
#35 On Autopilot
I actually turned my laziness to my advantage. I got a job that I found boring, so I just automated it. I got another job automating other people’s jobs and I again found it boring. So, I automated my own job. Now, I’m basically a senior developer with no real experience because I just automate what I don’t want to do.
#36 Being Gentler
The most important thing for me to do was to be gentler with myself. I realized I was being lazy out of dread of the tasks I had to do, and experiencing a lot of anxiety (to varying degrees). By just doing a little work every day, I managed to catch up in school work without feeling burned out. I think it’s important to find a balance and to always tell yourself, “I’ll just do a bit today!” It’s also important to know when you really can do the work and when you need a break. Taking breaks is important!
#37 Which Is It?
Make sure your laziness is not just you being really tired. We always get told that we’re tired because we’re too lazy and we just need to start doing stuff and we’ll feel better. Out of my own experience, I can tell you it’s absolutely the other way around. We get lazy because we’re tired. When you’re tired for a long time, you forget that you’re not supposed to feel like that.
That tiredness then eventually becomes your default state. So, you just wind up thinking that you’re just lazy and unmotivated by nature. The difference energy makes to your motivation and ability to deal with tasks is enormous. A good healthy diet and good sleeping habits will do so much more for your motivation.
#38 That Moment
The right choices get you the right consequences. You want to look better? Work out. You want to meet people? Go out and talk to people. Is it hard? Of course, but it gets easier. I hear people tell me all the time how they can’t do something and I think that’s ridiculous. I guarantee that if your life depended on working out, you’d be in perfect shape. The sooner you plant the tree, the sooner it grows.
Find why you want to do something and remind yourself of that reason every time. Then when you don’t feel like doing it, do it just because you want to beat that part of you that’s trying to be lazy. Do it because you want to overcome everything you hate about yourself, big or small. That moment is where it happens, that moment is where you find greatness.
#39 Leisurely Paced
To be entirely honest, I didn’t really overcome my laziness at all. I just ended up recognizing where laziness sort of hits the ceiling and stopped berating myself for not reaching goals beyond it. I suppose some people could and would call it “accepting mediocrity.” But I prefer to call it “leisurely paced living.”
#40 Bouncing Around
I bought a trampoline and bounced away on it while watching old episodes of Survivor . I started in February 2017 and I’ve lost about 20 lbs. I wasn’t fat to begin with, but I knew I needed some exercise. I’ve had to literally drag myself to it some days. But I’ve done it and I always feel better afterwards. I’m the laziest person in the world, if I can do it anyone can.
#41 Satisfying the Itch
I first took away what made me lazy. It was video games. I would come home from work, play games, sleep and repeat. I took it away and started feeling bored, developing an itch that I couldn’t scratch. So, I just started to do stuff. Now I play the guitar, go to the gym often, and learned how to sing. I also started personal training people on the side. Right now, I’m taking free courses online and learning a new skill.
#42 Keeping it Real
Start making realistic goals. For example, if you’re new to going to the gym, instead of saying five days a week, aim for two days and work your way up from there. If your house is a mess, instead of saying you’ll clean the entire house in one day, focus on just one part. Going from 0 to 100, you’re more than likely to give up and not want to go back to it. Going from 0 to 10, then 10 to 20 and so on, you’re likely to pick up a pattern and slowly become less lazy.
#43 A Chore a Day
Do a chore each day. Clear the extra dishes in a room, wipe down a table, Swiffer a room, unload the dishwasher, etc. You’d be surprised how quick it is and it gets you going to tackle more things. I use lists for errands because why spend the extra brain power trying to keep track of things? I easily forget, so I can just write it down and have the paper do my memory work.
#44 Stranger in the Mirror
My laziness came in the form of cubicle life. I would bust my butt at my desk, then come home, cook dinner, watch or play something, and sleep. After some years of this, I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the face staring back. I picked up a gym membership the next day and never saw that stranger in the mirror again.
#45 You Gotta Earn It
Once I get home, I try to avoid that super comfy sitting spot for as long as possible. Instead, I put away stuff I used that day, do dishes, start cooking, prepare for the next day, throw a load of laundry in, or go into my creative space. Something about that lazy spot drains me of all motivation and energy. I just try to delay it for as long as possible. I do until I’ve done enough around the house to feel better about my day. Then, I feel like I deserve to relax and I appreciate it all the more.
#46 Putting it Into Focus
I’m very lazy, but I’ve found great success in focusing my laziness. I do my homework early so that relaxing on the couch or at my computer feels so much better. I do chores all at once when I get home from class so that I never get started being lazy. After that, I relax for a long time. When I study, I set aside at least six hours so that I study when I “feel like it.” I’m then generally looking at my phone and getting my laziness out as soon as the feeling hits.
#47 Doing it Right
The best way to be lazy is just to get stuff done, quickly and properly the first time. Once it’s done, I don’t have to think about it anymore. No more stressful procrastination avoiding whatever it is. Instead, I can actually relax at the end of my day and enjoy the sense of accomplishment. At least more often, I still struggle against the tendency to be a lazy bum.
#48 Dress to Impress
One thing I like to do to increase my activity level if I’m just at home is to dress properly. It just doesn’t feel right to get cozy on the sofa with a decent shirt and pants on. They wrinkle and you can feel they’re not made for lounging! I once read something about how we perform better if we get dressed for the occasion. The experiment had people do science labs with and without a lab coat and protective eyewear. The groups that wore proper gear did significantly better, and this is something I notice with myself. Sweat pants don’t increase activity, they make you look and feel just as lazy as you actually are.
#49 Say it Loud
Every morning when my alarm goes off, I physically say out loud, “Time to get up and start the day.” It seems like by vocalizing it, it becomes real that the day has started and that the time for relaxation is over. My theory is that it takes advantage of cognitive dissonance. It’s the same phenomenon that causes you to become happier by simply forcing your mouth to smile.
#50 Bargain-Free Zone
This is gonna sound corny, but I just do it. Just like the Nike saying. I stopped bargaining with myself about workout. I used to think stuff like, “Well I went to the store today, so it counts like some kind of workout.” I’d tell myself all this other stuff to convince myself why it was okay to not work out. No more. Stop the bargaining in your head. Just do it.