Be Lazy

by Tobias van Schneider
first appeared
on my private email list.

In my last article I talked about being busy. Why I try to stay busy actually doing something and avoid being busy for the sake of being busy. Make sure to read this first in case you just joined my email list.

I mentioned that being bored or lazy is totally fine, as long as you fully embrace it. Faking that you are busy rarely leads to happiness, and often to exhaustion, even depression.

Spending 8 hours a day at work pretending that you are busy is often more exhausting than actually doing the work. You’ve probably experienced it yourself, being completely tired after a full day of work, even though you haven’t done anything.

But then at the same time, I like to describe myself as a very lazy person. Some might not believe it, but trust me, I’m lazy.

Back in school, at the end of each year we all got handed a report with our grades on it. At the bottom of the report there was always a one sentence review written by your main teacher.

Regardless of the school or teacher I had over the years, this review kept being consistent. It said:

“Tobias is a smart kid, but he is unfortunately very lazy.”

At the time I saw it as critique, only later I discovered that this was in fact a compliment.

I remember that I rarely did any of my homework myself. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, I just didn’t want to. By definition I was lazy.

For me it was simple. When given a homework assignment, the task was to return my homework, regardless of how I actually did it. I saw it as a challenge. I usually “hired” other people to do my homework, I automated the shit out of everything teachers asked me for.

I was always a trouble maker in school. Back in Germany when you caused some trouble in class, they made you hand write the “School Rules”as punishment after school. The “School Rules” was a 10 pages document, it took you quite some time to copy it in handwritten format.

I always had at least 5 of these already written in my bag. I hired people to write them for me in advance. I used photo copy machines (not common back then) and experimented with them. I added mistakes and splashes of ink to make the photo copies look more real.

I handed over dozens of these documents over the years, I rarely wrote any of them myself. Of course I always waited 2–3 days to hand them to the teacher, oftentimes asking for deadline extension to make it look more authentic.

Back then, I was told that laziness is a bad thing. But I couldn’t see the benefits just yet.

Looking back at my projects, I believe my laziness has helped me to come up with better ideas and better design better solution.

Laziness in itself is a great driver for innovation. Often times the greatest ideas and innovations are born out of laziness, by people who were too lazy to do a certain task.

Laziness in this case isn’t about sitting around binge watching TV. Browsing Facebook and not doing anything. It’s about finding shortcuts in a system of well established rules.

With laziness as a driver, all we want is maximum productivity with the minimum amount of effort or expense for that matter.

We invented the cellphone because being tied to a land line sucks. We invented the elevator/escalator because we we’re too lazy to walk the stairs. We invented the wheel to carry things we were too lazy to carry on our shoulders. (even the Donkey was too lazy)

We invented the remote, because we are too lazy to always walk to the TV set to change the channel or volume.

Almost everything except for life saving inventions (vaccines,cures etc.) are born out of laziness.

Bill Gates once said:

“I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job… Because he/she will find an easy way to do it.”

Necessity has been know to be the mother of innovation, but for the 21st century we can say for sure it’s laziness.

The good thing, being lazy is human. It comes for free in everyone of us. The question is just what we do with it.

“I’m lazy. But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle, because they didn’t like walking or carrying things.”
-Lech Walesa

And with that, I wish you a wonderful week.
Be Lazy, but stay busy.

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to sign up to my email list or hit the little heart icon at the bottom (:

Yours truly,
Tobias

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Tobias is the Co-Founder of
Semplice, a new portfolio platform for designers. Also host of the show NTMY — Previously Design Lead at Spotify & Board of Directors AIGA New York.