Thursday, April 29, 2010

Productivity Linked to Laziness: Studies Show That...

Yes, I made that headline up. But I believe it's true anyway. People often ask me, "where do you get your energy?" I have to laugh because I am definitely NOT energetic. I am seriously lazy. I like to sit on my ass and read. I also like to nap.

But I do tend to get a lot written, so it looks like I am highly productive. And I'm also very loud in public, so I frequently appear to be fueled by some kind of inner lithium battery. I'm not - I just really, really, really like coffee.

But coffee is not what really makes me productive. It helps, that's for sure, and so does regular infusions of chocolate. But what really makes me productive is that I am LAZY.

I'd rather sit on my ass and write than do laundry. Or cook. Or grocery shop. I'd rather type this blog than make the ortho appt. for my son or take the dog to the groomer. I'd rather sit and write than do just about anything else other than sit and read (truth told- I prefer to read lying down.).

Since writing stuff is now technically my job, I can get away with this. When my kids ask me to do something for them, I have the bestest excuse in the world: "Later, I'm working." This is not actually parental neglect - it is positive reinforcement of both the importance of the work ethic and a fostering of independence and maturity in my offspring. We all know that coddled kids grow up to be obnoxious adults, and insecure to boot since they can't even fold a pair of socks without assistance. I see my "laissez-faire" style as a positive antidote to this tendency.

So I delegate, highly effectively. My two sons have long been calling me "boot camp mommy." They do their laundry, look after the dog, and cook dinner 2-4 times a week. And not KD dinner - real food dinner. Roast chicken, Barbecued salmon, fresh homemade pasta in bolognese. I direct from my corner "office" - the fluffy chair in the kitchen. Do they mouth off and resent it? Sometimes, but not as often as you might think. They actually appreciate that they have skills their friends don't. Their competence has helped mitigate the typical teen angst (they're 15 and 17 now, but they've been doing lots around the house since they were itty-bitty boys) which comes with this stage in life.

My husband, too, does his share around the house. Reluctantly, in the past, but he got tired of me shrugging my shoulders when he tried to lay on the guilt. I'm a feminist, and I know there is nothing about these female hands that makes them better suited to household tasks than his manly ones. Besides, he is NOT lazy. He is restless - a perpetual motion machine. He likes getting out in the garden and pulling up weeds. I'd have to tie him to chair in the afternoon to get him to NOT do household chores.

So I've managed to reduce my household tasks to those of a typical man, which means I can get in a solid 8 hours of writing a day if I choose. Lazy is good, if you want to make a living as a writer.

But even so, I find that life squishes the time available both for productive writing and for fun. Since those are my two top priorities (along with regular exercise), everything else has to go. Adios, blow dryer! Adios, makeup (A quadruple timewaster, in my opinion: you spend time buying it, applying it, repairing it when you sweat, get rained on or go swimming, and then you have to take it off or find it all over your pillow - blech! Dumb dumb dumb). Fashion is dumb too, so I got rid of all my stupid clothes that require finicky care and stick to comfy stuff that can all get thrown in the wash in one mixed heap.

I've also given up buying stuff I don't need. Of course, that avoids the dispiriting, soul-sucking time you waste in the mall or the big box store - shoot me dead, please before making me wheel a megadrone wagon around Costco! - But the acquisition of useless stuff is just the tip of the time-eating, consumption iceberg.

The more crap you have, the more time it takes away from the important stuff, like, drinking coffee with your pals under the wisteria. When you've got stuff, you've got to clean it. Fold it. Find a place for it. Put it away. Take it out. Clean it again. Plus pay for it, insure it, protect it, dispose of it, move it from house to house...ack!

No, I say. GONE GONZO, GONEORAMA.  Better just one plate, one cup, one fork. And one really, really great smileyface bandana.

Last but not least, I don't multitask. What a ridiculous idea that is - if you do three things at one time, you will do all three poorly. Well, maybe not YOU, but I will. I'm a focused kind of gal. So when I write, I don't get up and wash dishes or take phone calls (besides, people know not to call me coz I  hate the phone). When I have coffee with a friend, I drink coffee and talk with my friend - Period. I don't check my 'berry, call my husband, or make a grocery list. You will get my full attention, which is also why I might smash into someone on the sidewalk when we are taking a walk, and why you really don't want me to drive you anywhere, since if I focus on you, I'm not gonna watch the road.

Ultimately, I have only three rules for myself, which I find tough enough to follow. Write as well as I can is rule one. The other two? Show up places I'm supposed to be clean, and on time.  Everything else is optional.

So that's where my energy comes from. I don't waste what limited resources I have on matching my purse to my shoes or dusting tchotchkes. And I have a fab family that pitches in and doesn't expect me to be their handmaiden. I'm lucky, I know. Because to be a truly successful lazy person requires tons of hard work!


Because: Science!