These Habits Are Keeping You Lazy

One of the best-selling self-help books of the last decade, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, promises to help its readers break long-time bad habits and adopt better ones instead through nothing more than simple everyday routines. The secret, according to its author, lies in first understanding the power our habits have over us. In it, Clear writes, “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger…Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

With that said, if you’ve been having trouble being more productive lately but aren’t quite sure why, take this as a sign to start looking more closely at your day-to-day habits. According to self-help experts and psychologists, here are some of the most common habits keeping you lazy:

1. An Overly Comfortable Environment

This first one might surprise you, but remember, there’s a reason why they say we need to get out of our comfort zone more. Because when we’re overly comfortable — be it in our workplace, with our academic standing, or around our same circle of friends we’ve always had — it can be easy to become lazy and complacent. Surrounding ourselves only with what’s easy or familiar doesn’t give us any reason or opportunity to push ourselves for the better. In fact, one study by Laura Prazeres found that, for foreign exchange students in Berlin, leaving their comfort zones incited greater self-discovery and personal change.

2. The Attention Economy

Ever wasted an hour or two without meaning to just by browsing through your feed, deciding on what to post, or scrolling through a few TikTok videos? In his book, “Don’t Tell Me To Relax! Emotional Resilience in the Age of Rage, Feels, and Freak-Outs,” therapist Dr. Ralph De La Rosa talks about how constantly being overloaded with information from having the internet at your fingertips can make anyone prone to procrastination and getting distracted all the time. And the fast-paced, hyperconnected lifestyle of being on social media too much can easily make us lazy and self-absorbed. So maybe it’s best to skip the bedtime browsing and go on a social media detox every now and then. 

photo of woman using mobile phone

3. Negative Thought Patterns

According to cognitive psychology, there are a lot of negative thought patterns that can seriously hinder a person’s ability to function, hurt their self-confidence, and make it hard for them to feel motivated. These are called cognitive distortions, first studied by psychologist and pioneer of CBT Dr. Aaron Beck. Some examples include: all-or-nothing thinking (“If I don’t get the grade I want, I’ll be a total failure!”); overgeneralization (“It rained on my way to work today so I was late. Why do bad things always happen to me?”); and catastrophizing (“My crush rejected me, I’ll never find love!”).

4. Lack of Self-Care

Here’s something that might surprise you: when studying about the life of the late, great scientist Albert Einstein, biographers were able to deduce what his day-to-day routine was like and many productivity experts have used this knowledge, along with the daily routines of other successful people, to apply their teachings. But you know what the surprising part is? Albert Einstein slept 10 hours a night, napped in the afternoon, took daily walks, practiced violin, and spent 2 hours a day doing nothing but thinking. 

And while we’re not saying that doing everything Einstein did is bound to guarantee you success, too, the main takeaway here is that self-care is key to productivity. After all, sleep deprivation, a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, and an all-work-no-play attitude can all contribute to a feeling of laziness and burn out. 

5. Poor Planning, Prioritizing & Organizing

Last but certainly not the least on our list of habits keeping you lazy is poor planning, prioritizing, and organizing — all of which are important life skills. And when we don’t hone or value these skills enough, our productivity can really take a turn for the worse. Poor time management, for example, leads to constantly running late and plenty of missed deadlines; while an inability to plan and organize can make achieving long-term goals seem overwhelming and impossible. According to a study by Richiţeanu-Năstase and Lăcătuş, time management skills were strongly associated not only with academic achievements but also life satisfaction. So not knowing how to prioritize tasks or set your own goals could be what’s holding you back from realizing your full potential. 

So, do you relate to anything we’ve mentioned here? If you find yourself struggling with laziness, it’s important to first identify what we may be doing to contribute to the problem. Only then can you begin to work on making positive changes and lasting improvement in your productivity. 

In her blog, “The Best Brain Possible,” self-help guru Debbie Hampton states that, “We are all creatures of habit — for better or worse…Even though they know what they want to change, it’s common for people to come to me because they haven’t been able to take the step from awareness to action. Insight isn’t enough.”

So, what bad habits do you need to break today? And what’s your plan of action?

References:

  • Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. Penguin Publishing House.
  • Prazeres, L. (2017). Challenging the comfort zone: self-discovery, everyday practices and international student mobility to the Global South. Mobilities, 12(6), 908-923.
  • De La Rosa, R. (2020). Don’t Tell Me to Relax: Emotional Resilience in the Age of Rage, Feels, and Freak-Outs. Shambhala Publications: Colorado, US.
  • Santos-Longhurst, A. & Legg, T. J. (2019). 17 Healthy and Practical Ways to Break Out of Laziness. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-being-lazy#health-strategies
  • Beck, Aaron T. (1997). “The Past and Future of Cognitive Therapy”. Journal of Psychotherapy and Research. 6 (4): 277.
  • Daily Routines: Daily Habits of the Most Productive Leaders. (2021). Albert Einstein’s Daily Routine. Retrieved from https://topdailyroutines.com/albert-einstein-daily-routine/
  • Richiţeanu-Năstase, E. R., Stăiculescu, C., & Lăcătuş, M. L. (2018). Time Management Skills. Academic Achievements and Life Satisfaction. A Case Study at Bucharest University of Economic Studies. Review of International Comparative Management/Revista de Management Comparat International, 19(2).

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