Can laziness save (y)our time?


I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.

Bill Gates

Let’s face it: laziness is considered to be a bad trait both in the old world and the new world. In the mind of most people, the word “lazy” brings up anything but positive associations: stupid, uninitiative, fat and many other pleasant words. But can it be that, given the right conditions, laziness can actually be used as an incredibly strong instrument?

If we break it down to the very basis, it is not surpising that laziness has earned a reputation of a bad habit. Indeed, a lazy factory worker or a farmer would never perform to the best of the abilities on a constant basis. And since the vast majority of labor used to be manual it is no wonder that a “lazy person” became synonymous to a “bad person”. Now, things change.

In the modern world, where technology and electronics dominate almost every sphere except for the purely creative and those with a “human face”, allocating resources rather than extracting them becomes more and more important. And as the approaches towards extraction and creation differentiate more and more (to illustrate it properly, one can compare an organizational structure of a mining corporation to any IT company valued over $10m.), so does the evaluation criteria of skills necessary to get the job done shift towards more abstract qualities and character traits. 50 years ago, it would be a bizarre, ludicrous idea for an interviewer to ask himself whether he would like to get stuck in an airport (!) with a potential employee (!!) without taking his or her professional skills (!!!) into account. Nowadays, it is becoming a standard  – to see whether the person “fits in”, he is evaluated as something more than a bearer of certain skillset.

So, where does the lazy part kicks in? Well, let’s jump into an imaginary time machine and take a deep dive into stone age. Let’s imagine a big, brutal, hairy male with the biggest club in the whole tribe who had just killed the biggest mammoth in the entire ravine. He is strong, he knows that he can carry a big chunk of the beast, probably twice as much as an average tribesman would. And there’s a small, skinny guy, a bighead, always toying with things around, occasionally starting fires and sharpening sticks to make spears. He does not bother that much with the quesiton “what can I do”, he is more interested in “what happens if…?”. And so he – unintentioally, most probably – invents the wheel, because he also wants to achieve the same result as the big guy, preferably with as little effort as possible.

How is this principle applied to the world we live in ? It’s simple: those who find ingenious ways to achieve big results with as little resources as possible become the most valuable members of any society since their existence inside those societes make them more efficient in what they do. Even more – the desire of a person to achieve a goal while actually doing as little as possible is the mother lode of skills, as it allows the system in which this particular person exists to allocate the rarest and the most precious of all resources – one that no gold, money, land or property can buy – with a much greater flexibility. The ingenuity of lazy people can, quite literally, save time.

Can laziness save (y)our time?

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