The main lazybones: How to defeat laziness and change your life

Apr 05, 2019

“Laziness was born before me. It has been very hard to make myself do something since childhood, especially the things I didn’t like. I would often postpone the tasks, thinking I will do them when I have more time and energy. Nothing bad will happen, I would say to myself, there’s plenty of time. I would often plan a lot of things and end up doing none of them. Afterwards, I’d blame myself for wasting time and, not doing something important or useful all day. How do I fight my laziness? I try different ways, yet it still gets the better of me.

I postponed writing my thesis until the very last moment, constantly in fear that I would not be able to submit it in time, yet I couldn’t make myself sit down and write it. I got distracted with interesting movies, videos, series, small chores, anything that would make me not do my work. I came up with loads of reasons and excuses like bad mood, no inspiration, other business, important meetings or feeling sick. I knew it was irresponsible of me to act like this. I was so ashamed of letting everyone down, including myself. But I don’t like pressure. I need a certain mood and inspiration to start doing my work. I have no idea how to fight my laziness and lack of organization.”

– Alena, 24

Every person probably had a similar experience to the story above. We all are lazy sometimes. We postpone important business and spend our day doing nothing useful. It is perfectly normal, until this becomes a bad habit that affects our life and we become unable to fight it.

Sometimes it can be good for us to sabotage our work, because laziness is a natural protection from exhaustion. If you don’t consider yourself to be a lazy person, you need to listen to what your body says and have some rest. It will save you from serious disorders that appear due to drain, like depression, heart diseases and nervous breakdown. However, if you feel that your laziness has become a habit, then it is most likely not a protective reaction anymore, but rather an established behavior pattern. [1] Let’s learn more about the psychology of laziness and ways to defeat this beast that stops us from living to the full.

Test: do you have problems with laziness?

Let’s find out if your laziness has become a habit by taking a short test. Mark the statements you agree with.

  1. I put off performing a task to the very end, however important the task may be.
  2. I am so often late for work that it has become systematic.
  3. I make great plans for the weekend, but then decide to stay home and watch TV.
  4. Every evening I promise myself to change.
  5. I would rather pay more and order a delivery than cook my food myself.
  6. I cannot resist the desire to stay in bed in the morning, even if I’m already late.
  7. I can spend weeks without cleaning my home because I’m lazy.
  8. I always plan to start doing sports, but I have no idea how to overcome my laziness and actually begin any physical activities.
  9. I decline all plans to go out or do something interesting, I’d rather stay at home.
  10. I rarely meet my friends and relatives because I don’t want to leave my house for that.

If you have agreed with the majority of the statements, your laziness has most likely reached the stage where it interferes with your life and work. The consequences of such laziness can be extremely grave. They include health problems, losing your job, and an inability to establish close relationships with other people. This habit can actually destroy your life. In order to prevent these, you have to pay attention to this problem and learn to overcome your laziness.

Causes of pathologic laziness

Laziness often results from exhaustion, but it can also have many other causes stemming from internal conflicts or lack of motivation. What is laziness from the psychological point of view? It is a reaction to a misbalance between “need” and “want” – a discrepancy between a person’s needs and their life circumstances. Once we know the true cause of laziness, we can find the way to defeat it.

  1. Lack of interest towards work

Unfortunately, many of us are not so lucky to have a dream job that makes us want to wake up in the morning. It is no surprise that a person can quickly lose interest in a job they don’t love, they simply lose their motivation to finish the tasks properly. If we make ourselves do something that we don’t want to for a long time, our brains naturally begin to resist, as they don’t understand why we have to spend so much energy on a useless activity. If the content of work goes against a person’s moral principles, it becomes even worse and in severe cases it can grow into a serious internal conflict which can cause mental disorders. Fighting laziness in such cases becomes hard: you either need to change your job or try to find meaning in the current one. [2]

  1. Lack of life goals

This cause is linked to the previous one. In essence, lack of goals, both short-term and long-term, equals the lack of motivation. Everyone needs to have certain goals. Pointless actions eventually make us resist doing them, even if the activity itself looks interesting and fun. Moreover, if the tasks we need to perform do not correlate with our true goals, it is perfectly natural to be reluctant about spending time on them. Therefore, if you wonder how you should “heal” yourself from laziness, ask yourself this simple question: why do I have to perform the task I am now postponing?

  1. Fear

Sometimes laziness appears due to our fear of large volumes of work or an incredibly difficult task. A person might be afraid that they will not make it, that the efforts spent will not bear fruit and that others will be critical. People may even not notice their fear, they will just be reluctant to start working. Perfectionists are especially affected by this condition, as they need everything to be done perfectly. Also, people with low self-confidence may have similar worries. Such people can normally be hardworking, but increased responsibility may induce fear. How can an adult fight their laziness in this case? They must understand that an imperfect result can be quite acceptable.

  1. Lack of will

Laziness can be a protest against uninteresting or difficult work, but it can also be a weakness of character. A person with weak will cannot simply make themselves perform a task, even if they realize its significance. Such people tend to aim for quick entertainment. They cannot overcome their lack of will and finish their business and thus enjoy a well-deserved rest. Such people prefer to obtain pleasure immediately and they postpone their work.

Here is an article about treating weak will, as well as overcoming fatigue and laziness.

  1. The laziness habit

Finally, laziness can simply be a habit established early in childhood. Perhaps you had no duties and chores at home, your parents made all the decisions for you and disregarded your neglect of studies. That might have led to a specific behavior pattern that you couldn’t change after reaching adulthood.

  1. Learned helplessness

There is another cause, which stems from situations in which you were overburdened with responsibility. In such cases you probably learned that you wouldn’t be able to complete the task, so there was no point in trying. Such conditions lead to learned helplessness, which becomes the ground for chronic laziness. [3]

  1. Mental and physical disorders

This cause of responsibility neglect deserves special attention. Chronic laziness that appeared quite suddenly can be a symptom of depression, as well as physical disorders, from coronary heart disease to cancer. If you think that none of the causes above described your specific situation, you should pay attention to your physical and mental health. Simply knowing how to fight laziness won’t do: you will have to fight the cause, not a symptom of the disorder. Consult a doctor to identify the cause of your pathologic laziness and start to receive appropriate treatment.

Psychologist's advice on fighting laziness

  1. How can we defeat laziness and make ourselves work and engage in other activities? In certain cases you can handle the problem on your own, if you have the desire. Here are some pieces of advice to help you overcome laziness at home or work and rid yourself of the habit:

    1. Method “by contradiction”: do nothing. Stand in the middle of your room and start doing absolutely nothing. Do not move, do not listen to music or watch TV, do not speak, ideally clear your mind of any thoughts. In just a couple of minutes you will notice a desire to do something, anything. Our bodies cannot be passive for long periods of time. This method is thought to be very effective.
    2. Work for a couple of minutes. If starting the work is the hardest part for you, try this method. Convince yourself to work for just five minutes. If even that is hard, you can start with two. Set up a timer and work for that amount of time. Most likely, you won’t want to stop. Your brain would have already become active, and it requires a lot of resources to switch to another activity. This recommendation will help you if you have a large or difficult task that scares you.
    3. Find motivation. This is the first answer psychology gives to the question of how an adult can fight laziness. The best way to do this is in writing. Take a sheet of paper and put down several reasons why you need to perform a task. For example, you will earn money and will be able to spend it on some nice things, you will boost your reputation, you will be proud of yourself, you will be able to rest without thinking about work, you will raise your professional level, etc. You may also find motivation in a larger goal. Whatever the reasons may be, it is important that they motivate you to perform the task. You can hang the list near your workplace and reduce it every day. Such simple exercises can help you fight your reluctance to work.
    4. Plan your day. It is best to do this in the evening. There can be times when the mere thought of having to do a lot of things in a short period of time is very scary. In such cases planning becomes one of the best methods to fight laziness. It will help you reduce anxiety and show you that there is nothing to be afraid of. Plan only one important activity and add some secondary ones. Do not start doing secondary activities until you finish the important task. Large amounts of work can be split in several smaller stages. This will make it easier to start. Allocate a specific amount of time to each stage and adhere to it, using a timer.
    5. Design your own work schedule. Our previous advice can help you find out the time of day when you are the most active. For example, if you are a night person, you won’t be very productive in the morning. Find the time when you have the most energy and plan the most important tasks for that period.
    6. Praise yourself. Only you know how much effort you spend on each step of your fight with laziness. Do not expect others to praise you, do this yourself. Make short and pleasant breaks after completing each step and treat yourself to some tasty food or an interesting movie in the evening. Don’t forget to give yourself words of encouragement. [4]
    7. Remember the time. Finally, remember that you spend more energy on remorse and resisting work than on the task itself. Why don’t you simply stop thinking about the ways to defeat laziness and start working? So, just sit down and complete your task and enjoy some peaceful rest afterwards.

Defeating laziness once and for all: 7Spsy technique

If the methods above can’t help you defeat your laziness, and you feel like you have no more energy to fight it, then this habit has probably become pathological. It will be extremely difficult to get rid of it on your own. You will have to change your usual mode of behavior completely. This is what our registered 7Spsy behavior modification technique is about.

Our method will help you discover and eliminate the mindset that promotes your laziness, develop a new and positive mindset, and learn to apply it. The course is taken remotely with constant support from a psychologist. You will only need a portion of your time and internet access. In just 2-6 weeks you will be able to defeat your laziness and begin working hard. You will find the time and energy for career advancement, sports, meeting with friends and the other interesting activities you used to put off because of your laziness.


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