There are many reasons why I have chosen to live an uncluttered life, and one of those reasons is that I’m lazy. If I need to do something I’m not super excited about doing, I want it to take the least amount of time possible and I want it to cause me little or no stress. I’ve created simple routines for things like cleaning and getting ready in the morning because I need to do these things but don’t want to waste mental energy on them.
An example of this is processing mail when I come home: I instantly shred, recycle, or respond to the mail right when I walk in the door. This routine usually takes me two to three minutes, and then I don’t think about the mail or see it again. I used to just collect it and place it on the dining room table, then I would have to touch it again to move it so that we could sit down to dinner, then I would see it after dinner and think about it again, and then I would have to deal with it after worrying about it some more. In the past, I would spend 15 to 20 minutes thinking about the mail each night. Being “lazy” and organized with my mail saves me quite a bit of time over the course of the year. That, and I never have to worry about paying bills late.
Back in January, Leo Babauta wrote a post on this issue on his blog ZenHabits titled “The Lazy Manifesto: Do Less. Then, Do Even Less.” I like his perspective on doing less to increase productivity:
Do Less: The Ultimate Simple Productivity
It may seem paradoxical that Do Less can mean you’re more productive — and if you define “productive” as meaning “get more done” or “do more”, then no, Do Less won’t lead to that kind of productivity.
But if instead you define “productivity” as a means of making the most of your actions, of the time you spend working (or doing anything), of being as effective as possible, then Do Less is the best way to be productive.
Consider: I can work all day in a flurry of frenetic activity, only to get a little done, especially when it comes to lasting achievement. Or I can do just a couple things that take an hour, but those are key actions that will lead to real achievement. In the second example, you did less, but the time you spent counted for more.
Let’s take the example of a blogger: I can write a dozen posts that really say nothing, mean nothing, but take up my entire day … or I can write one post that affects thousands of people, that really reaches to the heart of my readers’ lives, and takes me 1.5 hours to write. I did less, but made my words and time count for more.
If you’re lazy, as I often am, then the choice is simple. Do Less.
But do it smartly: Do Less, but make every action count. Send fewer emails, but make them important. Write fewer words, but make each word essential. Really consider the impact of every action you take, and see if you can eliminate some actions. See if you can achieve a great impact doing less.
This doesn’t mean “less is more”. It means “less is better”.
I don’t agree with everything in his post, but his viewpoint speaks to the heart of uncluttering. Read his post and then come back here to share in our conversation. I’m interested in reading about what your views are on lazy productivity.