The value of being lazy

This weekend while my husband and I were doing some yard work, Grace found a shady spot to be lazy. The irony is that she plopped down right on top of the daffodils I intended to trim back. Nothing like being an obstacle to progress–or so it seemed!  But she wasn’t holding me up; I found a nearby spot that also needed my attention and by the time I was ready to move to where she was, she had already ventured on. I could have nudged her first, but I didn’t need to. Sometimes we need to let people rest, other times we need to push. Keep in mind the needs of the project time frame, not just how you are perceiving the speed of the progress.

I often hear a manager complain about an employee being lazy. And of course, we all know that being lazy is really not a desirable trait in the workforce; it certainly won’t get you an outstanding performance review nor anything that you’d tout on your resume.

But there are times when I’d say you can benefit from taking on the characteristics of being lazy. In our busy, whirlwind days, spending even five minutes to break from normal activities can give you a fresh perspective. Stand up and stretch, listen to a favorite tune on your iPod, or take a walk outside during lunch are all activities that will go a long way to rejuvenate you, mentally and physically.

For a person who values being busy, it’s hard to convince them to slow down, even for a minute. They might also have a tendency to describe a co-worker as lazy when in fact they are not. If someone works in a methodical manner, approaching things analytically and with great care and attention, it can look, well, lazy.

Think of the person who you see staring out a window, so engrossed in their own thoughts that they don’t hear you at the door or realize their phone is ringing. This, especially in contrast to a person who is running from one task to another, may seem like that person is wasting time, not getting anything done. However that “thinking” time can be critical to new innovations or understanding a problem before any action is taken.

One of the traits measured on the ProfileXT assessment is Energy Level, which describes the natural tendencies of a person to be more (or less) patient or more (or less) restless. Those who have higher levels of energy will be more comfortable multi-tasking, handling lots of projects at any given time. They are the ones reading email while talking on the phone and shuffling through papers on their desk. They love the activity! At the opposite end of the scale you’ll find a person who enjoys the opportunity to work through a task with order and clarity. They’d like to complete that job before they get interrupted to finish the next one. They aren’t lazy, though it might seem so on the surface. Knowing how a person operates will help us work with them more effectively.

We need to stick with our most comfortable work style and tap into how we work best, then realize that there will be times when we need ensure a balance. For those that prefer a slower pace, know that at times you may need to move along before you’re ready.

If you are constantly on-the-go, it’s important to recognize the value of pausing. Do what Grace does. Plop down right in the middle of something that needs to be done and savor the moment. Feel the breeze and soak in all around you. Then you’ll find a fresh energy to get back at it.

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13 comments

  1. Great post Robin! I love how Grace was working with you in the garden! This reminds me how difficult it is to have people with different styles working towards the same goal, especially when there is little understanding or respect for the opposite style. A coworker of mine with a linear thought process is constantly frustrated by my creative thought process. Another example – I’m helping a senior manager build a team, and she values a certain style that is more like her own. I fear she is building a team of people in her own image and discounting talented people because they don’t fit her profile of what “smart” looks like. As frustrating as it may be to work with others you don’t understand (or, more accurately, don’t take the time to understand), opposite styles can be very complementary and more productive and effective as a collective. The trick is getting everyone to understand the value of the others – much easier said than done. And after a 20-year career of working with people issues, these daily conflicts are what have made me decide that I prefer working with dogs!

    • The examples you give, Laurie, really spell out the value — and challenges — of working with different styles. And how true that an individual will build a team within the constraints of what they can see as strengths because they are similar to their own, as opposed to embracing differences. Abe Lincoln was so far ahead of us in that regard — did you ever read “A Team of Rivals”? I loved it. Yes, Grace is a marvelous helper in the garden, she loves the outdoors as much as I do. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts! Hope all is well with you and Daisy.

  2. Leslie Fish says:

    As always, you are so correct! As you know, I’m one of those people who spend their days multi-tasking and jumping from project to project. I work for a boss who is more contemplative; he’s often found wandering the halls deep in thought. Often he’s working out a problem of his own, but I’ve come to suspect that occasionally he’s just giving me time to work out my own conclusion to an issue. It’s that twinkle in his eye when I put the issue to him with one or more solutions to consider. And what a boost to my self-esteem!

    • Oh, what a delightful story! How great that you two have found this gentle way to give each other time and space to deal with topics effectively. Thank you so much for sharing, Leslie!

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Judy. Your comment got me thinking this: what would the world be like if we were unable to have a negative thought about someone? Not sure if it would be good or bad (pardon the pun). Interesting to thinking about, though! Thanks again for stopping by and triggering more thoughts.

      • Robin says:

        Judy sent me an email and she was going to post this comment but had an error message when she tried (sorry about that, Judy, and thanks for letting me know, I’ll check into it), I’m posting it here for her:

        Your thought about “what would the world be like if we were unable to have a negative thought about someone” was a sort of Wow moment for me. I think I know why you’re uncertain if it would be good or bad — something about staying safe around people who may cause harm. I don’t have time to totally play this out, but I think it’s possible to do both — have good thoughts and stay safe — if the good thoughts revolve around seeing someone’s positive intentions. Seeing both/and. Something like that.”

        Thanks, Judy — yes, staying safe, knowing when to not absorb the bad, was my concern. It would take some time to reflect on this!

  3. Didi Wright says:

    I really missed your clever, thoughtful posts, Robin. I completely agree with what you’re saying…As a very active, multi-tasking type of person, it took me a while to work out that people who fall under the other category are not necessarily lazy, just different in how they like to work and how their brain works. My husband is one of those people who works hard but likes to complete one task at a time, and we work very well together. To be honest, being so different makes us a better team than if we had the same work style…It kind of balances things in our business…x

    • Robin says:

      Didi, what a thrill to see you here again. And I agree that when two people can work out the challenges of their different styles, it can be very beneficial. Sounds like you two have mastered that well. Thanks for taking time to be here!

  4. Wow, your explanation of energy levels and how different individuals get work done describes both my husband and I to a T. I can only focus on one task at a time, while my husband has a knack for juggling multiple projects at one go. What’s interesting, though, is that when I’m less than enthusiastic about a particular assignment, I do find myself getting a little l-a-z-y. I wish I could call it something else, but doing so might place me in a state of denial (lol)!

  5. LeeAnn says:

    Hey Robin – I have been away from the blogging world and have missed yours and Grace’s posts! This one has got me thinking and, as with all of your posts, I will think about this for days to come. My first reaction is to envy the ones that we call “lazy” – to take your time and focus on one task sounds wonderful to me. I wonder about the details I miss by constantly multi-tasking – whether it be in my professional or personal life. I think many of us have been forced to learn to multi-task in our lives and I question whether it is a good thing. Beautiful picture of Grace in the shade!

    • Robin says:

      Hi LeeAnn! It is SOOOOO good to see you here. I have missed you a ton and your blog posts, too. Grace does look content in the shade, doesn’t she? It’s really what got me thinking about this topic, because she looked so serene while I was starting to get antsy because she was in my way. It helped to think of it from her perspective. Hope you are enjoying the summer and your adorable kitties — really looking forward to your blog when you get back to it!

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