Hedonism, Apathy, and Laziness: A recipe for success.

Hedonism, Apathy, and Laziness as a means to succeed in work and life.

In our vision article for Friday, I would like to share a particularly near-and-dear method of dealing with an ever-increasing-in-size work schedule. It’s called the HAL method; Hedonism, Apathy, and Laziness.

“Well,” said Pooh, “we keep looking for Home and not finding it, so I thought that if we looked for this Pit, we’d be sure not to find it, which would be a Good Thing, because then we might find something that we weren’t looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really.” – Winnie the Pooh

Not because I want to be HAL, but because I don’t have enough fun, I care way too much about certain things in my life, and I work WAY too much. For me, HAL is a way of ‘balancing things out’; I have a tendency to lean one way with my personality, so I correct it with leaning the other way to make sure I stay mentally healthy.

Why am I telling you this?

Why not? I’ve drawn great benefit from my (some say) Machiavellian attitude, and hopefully you as well.

But there is a deeper reason. I firmly believe that most of my mistakes in the past with projects have been due to myopic vision, and HAL is a way of correcting that, too.

Just to show you I’m rather apathetic about the whole thing, I’ll do HAL in reverse order.

Laziness

The lazy mind stays efficient.

The lazy mind stays efficient.

Laziness = sloth, right? Perhaps. Laziness is more a mindset than actual non-action. Scientists are lazy – they’re constantly trying to find new ways of doing things easier and faster (especially in Chemistry). In fact, you could say the goal of laziness is efficiency.

Example of Laziness: Coding vs. maintenance.

One of my clients came to me recently and said, “Don’t worry, Gregory, it’s fine. I’ll just do this by hand — we don’t need to find a plugin (coding) to do this automatically.”

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness. – David Dunham

But the Lazy Mind says, NO! That would violate your laziness. What you can automate now saves unknown hours, perhaps even days of time later. Find the elegant solution. Why revisit an action countless times when you can visit it only once?

People that work all the time are probably not working smart. This happens many times in someone’s life (including my own). Ever notice that when you take on a new job, project, or responsibility, it seems like your mental seams tighten a bit, then either burst (you’ve taken on too much and can’t cope) or relax (you’ve become efficient)?

Or better yet, you get to a point where you just can’t take it anymore, you CAN”T do it all, you know you can’t, then POOF! the answer to your problems comes? Ever wonder why?

Result: Laziness produces efficiency. So really, thinking “lazy” produces efficiency. You don’t want to work all the time, therefore you find efficient ways of doing things.

Caveat: Establishing a strong work and play schedule. We all need to work and that’s a fact. So, establishing a work schedule where you clearly divide work and play is a lifesaver. When you’re supposed to be working, you work, and when you’re not supposed to be working, don’t. Pacing is key, exhaustion is the enemy. Time-block your week. Stop when you’re done.

Apathy

The apathetic mind remains objective.

The apathetic mind remains objective.

Apathy means you don’t care, right? Sure, but is that a bad thing? Caring means subjective (vs. objective) thoughts, and sometimes subjectivity is not good. You can’t subjectively build a plane, for instance.

You can’t really subjectively build a website, either.

Example: Falling in love with a website design.

As a web promotion consultant, I’ve seen clients so in love with their work, that they just don’t have the mental ability to let go and change the site for the better. If you love something too much, it can get in the way of progress.

“The sages are not sentimental, thus they act toward the hundred families (everyone) as if they are straw dogs*.” – Tao Te Ching*Straw dog: A sacrificial straw sculpture in the shape of a dog that was carefully maintained until it was used and then it was discarded.

This is where many website designers fail to recognize the true goal of website design; the design is not for the designer, or even the client, but the customer; they focus on the time and energy on beauty when all a customer wants is to understand the benefit.  So falling in love with your work can be a bad thing. Especially in the world of marketing.

Result: Apathy means you can remain objective. The result of practicing apathy means you can remain in the frame of mind to see things from all perspectives, not just your own.

Caveat: That does not mean you can’t care about people. You still have to care about people. But it DOES mean you can disregard negative criticism any time you like, especially after listening closely and taking into consideration. You can also disregard negative ideas or attitudes.

Hedonism

The hedonistic mind has time for play.

The hedonistic mind has time for play.

Let’s face it – we probably all work too much. And that leads to burnout. If quality work is best achieved when you are mentally acute, then working too hard is counterproductive to great work.

Example: Quality work vs. burnout.

My personal example is making mistakes when working long hours. I miss cues, I write horribly, I can’t seem to organize, and I produce crappy work. Or, at the very least, I produce redundant work.

Not only does burnout feel bad, but it’s not like you’re getting anything more done, really. Hedonism defeats burnout. Hedonism is the happy interruption that allows your mind to recharge and come back to things in a fresh, new way.

Working too much means losing sight of the big picture. You can’t see the big picture if you’re burned out. Hedonism corrects that by allowing you to see the big picture. It’s when you’re having fun that the feelings of ‘isn’t this all worthwhile? THIS is what I work for.”

Hedonism is the ethical doctrine holding that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good. While that not may be true, certainly the mental attitude that you deserve to have lots of fun is.

Result: Hedonism makes all the work worthwhile. So the attitude of hedonism is there to make sure you understand why you’re working. Which helps you focus on what’s important. And that helps with workflow.

Caveat: Don’t let your fun interfere with the next day’s work. Again, planning your day (time-blocking) means you have time for work, AND time for play. If you take that into consideration (and how much money you have), you can have as much fun as you want, provided it doesn’t interfere with great work.

Ask yourself these questions:

You probably know that you should work less. The trick, of course, is disengaging from the workaholic, frenzied work attitude.

What you have to remember is that if you follow HAL, you are actually getting more and better work done.

Try to look for the signs of these three rules, from the perspective of symptoms:

  • Are you getting short with everyone in your life? (hedonism issue). If you find yourself being snappy (as Lisa would say to me), it’s time to go and have some fun. You’re not really getting any good work done, anyway. You’ve lost perspective, you don’t see the benefit of your work. If you disengage, even for a few hours, you will come back and see the solution.
  • Does it ever seem that there is not enough time in the world to do _________ ? (apathy issue). There is plenty of time to do everything you need to do. It’s a matter of perception. Taking a bit of time to sit back, see where you are from an objective perspective will do wonders for ‘what’s the next step.’ Your mind will clear, and your path obvious.
  • Find yourself updating your _________ constantly? (laziness issue). If you’re doing the same thing over and over again, STOP IT. Try to look at the problem from how to automate the process. Chances are you’ll see something new. If you’re telling yourself, “But I LOVE doing it over and over again (whatever it is), you’re lying to yourself. At the very least you’re forgetting about all the things you don’t know you have to do, yet.

In conclusion…

Why am I writing this Vision Fridays article on a Saturday morning? Well, I think you know the reason. It was 6pm on Friday and it was time to stop. Right now, it’s shopping time at Caraluzzis, then I’m going to get my Martini on and grill a great skirt steak with Chimichurri sauce.

Greg Cox

Analytics Geek. Gregory likes Motorcycles, Cooking, and Sciencey stuff.