Campfire #47: Success makes you lazy. And that’s good
Despite all the negative things with laziness, laziness can be beneficial if you know how to use it.
I run my solo freelance business for 13+ years. The past five years have been outstanding — I never had a shortage of work, collaborated with famous brands, and made an impact with my work.
In 2018 when I landed my first prominent ($10k) project, I thought I was on top of the world. I thought I figured out the formula for success. I felt that things would stay like that forever.
And they did! Until they didn't.
The problem with success is that it breeds bias.
I became too comfortable with my business and let my confirmation bias blind me to areas where I needed improvement. I ignored small red flags and convinced myself that everything would continue to be good or even improve.
My self-serving bias made me believe I deserved all the credit for my past years of success when in fact, there was a significant element of luck and privilege involved.
Those biases gave me permission to spend less time building new relationships and polishing the inbound work funnel. They made me less resilient to bad luck and timing.
Later in 2019, I lost most of my client base. But that just needed to happen.
See, the biases I had made me lazy. But laziness isn't that bad. People are usually called lazy when they can do something but they don't.
Despite all the negative things with laziness, it can be beneficial if you know how to use it.
You're probably familiar with the quote often credited to Bill Gates:
"I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it."
It's a great quote, but it's not Bill Gates. The original quote comes from a study by Frank B. Gilbreth Sr, who studied bricklayers.
He noticed so-called lazy workers eliminated unnecessary movement and reduced fatigue. He also discovered that the "best" workers were the most wasteful of their motion and strength. They produced a large quantity of good work, but it did not add up because they exhausted themselves.
So how can laziness be helpful to you?
Lazy people are entrepreneurial
Lazy people do not waste time on repetitive things. Most people's mundane routine work bores them to death. They have a solid drive to improve work processes. They must see results as soon as possible.
Activity to try: batch your tasks
Batching is the process of grouping all of the same tasks to be completed at the same time. For example, if I have three newsletter drafts, I will dedicate half of the day to writing. I'll finish all of the editing the next day.
Switching between tasks results in "attention waste." In his book "Deep Work - Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World," Cal Newport recommends focusing on one activity at a time. It takes some time for the mind to shift gears, but once you get used to it — your productivity will increase 10x.
This concept may disappoint you if you feel that writing should be a joyful, artistic experience completed in a single sitting. Batching resembles a Henry Ford assembly line more than a scene from "Shakespeare in Love." You will get more done if you perform all of the same tasks at the same time. Lazy or a genius?
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