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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How To Stop Being Lazy By Overcoming Your Biological Limitations

How To Stop Being Lazy By Overcoming Your Biological Limitations

Are you a lazy person?

Even if you think you’re a hardworking person, there must be some moments you feel lazy.

Let’s be honest.

Who wants to take a longer road if there is a shortcut? Who wants to do more than required if it makes no difference in the outcome? And not to mention the countless times we are just too lazy to go to gym or finish tasks way before the deadlines.

But why is being lazy inevitable for everyone?

Our Genes And Brains Are To Blame For Our Laziness

Couch Potato Gene Makes Us Lazy

Ever wondered why some people are enthusiastic about hitting the gym, while most of us prefer being couch potatoes? Actually, it’s determined by our genes.

A 2010 study[1] found that those who are reluctant to physical activity have the “couch potato gene”, which is a mutation of a normal gene that regulate activity levels.

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During the mutation, dopamine receptor in the normal gene which controls motivation and reward shrinks or even disappears. That’s why many of us cannot feel the pleasure from exercise as those fitness gurus do. And couch potato gene is inheritable. That means if you’re not fond of physical activity, your children are less likely to be athletic too.

Our Brains Save Energy By Being Lazy

Another biological limitation we commonly share is that our brains are wired to be lazy. Although our brains only make up for 2% of our body weight, it uses 20% of our daily energy intake. To make sure we’re not physically drained, most of the time our brains opted to switch off themselves. That’s why we tend to intellectually lazy and find deep thinking especially challenging to us.[2]

But More Often Than Not Laziness Is The Symptom of Unhealthy Mindsets And Behavior…

To put it simply, procrastination is another term for laziness. We put off things that are supposed to be done right now and let our future self to pay for the price. And it’s all about not having the right mindsets or behavior.[3]

Sometimes we are pessimistic and afraid of failure, so it’s better not to do anything. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the complexity and ambiguity of what we do and so we become paralyzed. Sometimes we fail to stay away from distractions. And sometimes we lack a clear goal so we easily become unmotivated. They happen from time to time.

Being Lazy Makes You Irresponsible For Your Life

Laziness is a boulder that blocks your way to personal growth and success. If you allow yourself to be lazy, you will keep making excuses for not fulfilling your responsibilities and realizing your dreams. Although you can be carefree at the present, your future self will suffer and have to pay the bill in the end. So laziness is an issue that everyone needs to tackle without delays.

Take a look at the below solutions to overcome laziness effortlessly:

Plan Your Time Well. Your Lazy Brain Does’t Like To Think.

The fact that our brains are wired to be lazy can’t be changed. The only way to trump your lazy brain is plan your time well so you don’t need too much of what to do.

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How? Have a to-do list? That’s the most typical way people do.

But a list by itself is useless. You should set clear time boxes on your schedule. This allows you to work on it within a given time without procrastinating. If you need to do grocery shopping once a week, set a time for it, for example, ‘Saturday, 1-3pm’. You might also schedule what to do with your free time as it might increase your quality of life.[4]

Have A Clear Goal Before You Do Anything

Perhaps lacking a clear goal is one of the reasons why you fail to perform well in a task.

The Goal Setting Theory of Motivation proposed by Edwin Locked tells us that goal setting is essentially linked to task performance.[5] He states that a specific, clear, realistic and challenging goal is what we need for any tasks. The specificity helps us to achieve a goal in a right direction and the challenge of it motivates us to achieve it.

Instead of saying ‘I want to write a book’, you should say ‘I want to write a 100,000-word science fiction within a year’. See the specificity? If you find it is too easy for you, then write more, or write on other topics. Always take the challenge.

Break Every Task Into Smaller Ones And Tackle Them One By One

When a task seems too big and you have no idea where to start with, you would probably put it aside and wait until the deadline.

Every task is made up of smaller components. Take writing an article as an example. You can divide the task into different small actionable items: researching for ideas, constructing the outline, writing the content, proofreading, and even more. Doing it step by step would make you feel that you have accomplished something and this motivates to do go on with the big task.

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Perfectionism Is A Trap. Don’t Fall Into It.

If you aim for perfection, it is very likely that you need to spend a lot of time to finish a task. It turns out that you complete a day’s worth of work in a week.

There is nothing wrong in striving for perfection. But you can do it wisely. Get things done first and then make tuning afterwards. Thus, you will have an overview of it and see how you can make the fine tuning to make it better. And stop spending too much time on details. The time you spent and the quality of your work might not always be directly proportional.

3 Books To Help You Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done

If you want some more concrete tips on how to overcome laziness, you can read these three books for more insights:

Get Stuff Done: How To Focus, Be More Productive, Overcome Procrastination, and Master Concentration

    Get Stuff Done teaches the one skill that makes the difference between achieving your goals and settling for mediocrity. It includes the two habits backed by science that boost productivity so dramatically that they add four HOURS worth of productivity to the average working day. A productivity hack shared by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, and Steve Job can also be found in the book.

    Procrastination Ends Now: 12 Secrets to Boost your Productivity, Increase Motivation and Develop New Habits in 21 Days

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      In this book, the author shows you how to overcome procrastination and replace the habit with productive actions step by step: accepting the fact that you procrastinate, knowing why you procrastinate, identifying the roots of procrastination, and identifying and dealing with fears that make you put off tasks over and over again.

      PROCRASTINATION: Let’s Do It Now! 10 Proven Ways to Achieve Your Goals

        Successful people plan and put in the work. The writer suggests 10 ways for you to turn your ideas into realities that you can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. The tips in this book will help you successfully turn yourself into a goal crushing machine and say good-bye to procrastination permanently.

        Laziness is a sickness that can only be cured with the right medication. Say good-bye to it and gain more time.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Sheba Leung

        Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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        Last Updated on April 19, 2021

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

        We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

        The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

        Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

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        1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

        Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

        For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

        • (1) Research
        • (2) Deciding the topic
        • (3) Creating the outline
        • (4) Drafting the content
        • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
        • (6) Revision
        • (7) etc.

        Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

        2. Change Your Environment

        Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

        One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

        3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

        Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

        Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

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        My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

        Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

        4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

        If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

        Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

        I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

        For more tips on how to eliminate your procrastination pit-stops, join the free Fast-Track Class – No More Procrastination. It’s a focused 30-minute session in which you will understand more about your procrastination behavior and get over it once and for all. Join it now.

        5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

        I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

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        Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

        As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

        6. Get a Buddy

        Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

        I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

        7. Tell Others About Your Goals

        This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

        For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

        8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

        What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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        9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

        If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

        Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

        10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

        Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

        Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

        11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

        At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

        Reality check:

        I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

        Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

        More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

        Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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