Laziness is a brush I’ve been tarnished with throughout my life, but I’ve always fought vehemently against it. In my teens, depression was undoubtedly the root cause of my lack of joie de vivre but as an adult I’ve concluded that John Lennon was right – wasted time isn’t wasted if you enjoyed yourself. And I’m not alone.
According to a new study by It’s Nice That, laziness is something to be celebrated, not shunned. The aptly titled “Lazy Report” argues for concentrated bursts of bone-idleness to aid our creative minds. As somebody that has stumbled across some of his most inspiring ideas while walking the dogs or chilling out with a book, I concur wholeheartedly.
Guilt over “doing nothing” can be inspiring but it can also be remarkably self-destructive. Particularly when that “down time” affords you the opportunity to take a step back and let your ideas simmer for a while. There is, after all, a reason for the old trope of the genius inventor labouring over an idea for hours before finally striking on the solution during a moment of meditative self-reflection. Hell, the medical drama House built nine seasons of television around it.
Engage “Goblin Mode”
The art of laziness arguably reached a new zenith last year when “Goblin Mode” was chosen as phrase of the year by the Oxford Dictionary. Described as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations,” it’s a celebration of laziness that typifies lazy behaviour as somehow “cute” and “loveable” rather than abhorrent.
Now, let’s get something clear. In no way am I suggesting you should be doing lazier work. Indeed, I’d argue the opposite. Laziness isn’t something you should be bringing into your work life but something you should be using to bolster it. Creative laziness can play an important role within the lives of successful, happy, productive people.
You see, I posit that creativity is like a muscle and that we need a rest for it to grow. Indeed, there are studies suggesting that those who indulge in allowing their minds to wander possess more developed executive functions such as planning and creative problem-solving than their workaholic counterparts.
Look at the success of workplace like Pixar and Google – hives of creative excellence that look almost like grown-up playgrounds to the uninitiated. Everything that the typical organisation would consider a distraction that diminishes the productivity of its employees can be found at Google’s offices. However, these perks that may appear to encourage laziness have proven a major boon to creativity and productivity.
Creativity never sleeps
Creativity isn’t a tap we can switch on and off when it suits us; it’s a perpetual process. From the moment we wake up to maybe 3 or 4 in the morning, our creative minds can kick into overdrive at a moment’s notice. This can sometime lead to mental fatigue, causing us to retract into our supposedly lazy little bubbles. But what separates the good creatives from the bad is that the good ones know when to get back to work and when to indulge their inner goblins.
So, why not use boredom and banality as creative inspiration and start seeing the beauty in nothing. It might juts make you a better creative.