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The Lazy Man’s Guide to Getting Things Done

Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead.

What if I told you that you could be totally lazy and irresponsible, and still accomplish just as much? What if you could slack off, loiter, and essentially do nothing and get more done than the average person. It’s a bit of an art, but you can master this skill with some practice.

Some of these things may seem like a lot of work up front, but that’s the price you have to pay to lounge around all day.

1. Be effective.

The indigenous lazy tribesman knows the value of hard work. But he also knows that he can get more done easily and more efficiently by being effective. That means focusing on the things that matter. What matters more to you, having a color coded underwear filing system, or writing that world dominating book you’ve been talking about for the past 12 years?

Focus on being effective, instead of trying do everything perfectly. Let things slide, let your house get a little messy, let your desk be a little less than immaculate. Let your email inbox *gasp* go unchecked for a day. Whatever it takes to focus on what actually matters.

2. Do your research.

This might not seem like something lazy people like to do, but it’s essential if you want to waste a lot of time doing things that, you know, you actually enjoy doing. If you want to work less, it’s important that you do your research. Study trends, follow what major movements are going on in your industry. If you know the right time and place to act, you can be miles above others that were simply working hard, hoping things would turn out for the best.

3. Act from your gut.

People that work hard and achieve little spend a lot of time thinking about the best course of action. They plan and plot incessantly. What eventually happens is these come up that they never could have planned for. The lazy man knows that planning is useful, but often overrated. It’s better to act from your gut then to have a highly detailed plant you’ll simply throw away later.

4. Know people.

A smart, lazy fellow understands the importance of connections. He knows that he can get more done by helping others and cooperating. It’s not always about what you can do, but about “who you know.” If you can focus on helping others as much as possible (being a mensch link) you’ll naturally create meaningful connections with other people. It’s always a lot easier to get help from other people who you’ve helped in the past.

5. Ditch meetings and other things that don’t matter.

Meetings are usually unproductive and a waste of time for everyone. They’re usually irrelevant to most of the people involved. The objective of most meeting can usually be handled with a simple email or phone call. If the meeting doesn’t require high level, strategic decision making, opt out whenever possible.

Whenever possible, cull whatever is not working. There’s certain things that just don’t make much of a difference when you spend twice as much time on them. There’s also things that don’t make sense to do at all. Try to focus only on things that produce the most results. Cut out the rest.

6. Focus on less.

If you’re lazy like me, you probably don’t want to spend unnecessary time churning out ineffective work. It’s much better to work on one amazing idea, than 20 mediocre ones. Focus on producing less. Don’t sacrifice quality to fill an arbitrary quota.

7. Allow things to happen.

Trying to force things to go your way is not only stressful, it’s not very intelligent. It’s better to guide things along, than trying to marshal them in like a dictator. Try to let things happen, instead of making them happen. Remember that a small rudder directs even the most giant ship.

8. Don’t do what works.

The number one dream killer is doing what works. We follow a template of what has worked for other people. But just because climbing a corporate ladder works, it doesn’t mean it’s the best idea for you. If you’re smart and you want to be lazy, you’ll follow your own path. You’ll work from your strengths, instead of trying to follow a predetermined pattern of effectiveness.

It’s a lot easier to apply your unique strengths, then to force yourself into an arbitrary mold.

These things might seem like they require diligent work, and they do. But they also allow you to free up the time to be as lazy and unproductive as you want to be.

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of the Illuminated Mind blog. For more ways to defend your laziness grab a free subscription to Illuminated MInd.

Read elsewhere: How Getting Nothing Done Can Make You More Productive.
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