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How to be lazy: keep busy


I had a busy day on Tuesday but noticed there was a bit of white space left in my diary so I added and added, until it was a day to be proud of. I went for an early pre-dawn jog, I coached, trained, mentored, collaborated, joined an induction and had a plumber in. I dealt with emails over breakfast, joined the Economist Sustainability Week over lunch and a two-hour Toastmasters meet while eating dinner.


Even as I tell you this, slightly embarrassed and ashamed, there is also a badge of honour re. this busyness. Being busy is something to be proud of. It’s good to be in demand, to add value, to connect and get things done. Busyness is productivity and efficiency, right?


The curse of training as an economist – the study of the efficient allocation of resources – is that a natural tendency to optimise my most precious resource – my time – has been put on steroids.


As I reflected on my exhaustion Tuesday night – a phrase used by one of my mentors came to mind – “busyness is laziness”.


So on Wednesday I tried a different approach. I try to protect my white space on Wednesdays, to mixed success, giving myself the day to go with the flow and do more creative work. It takes a lot of discipline and goes against everything I have learned the last few decades, but I’m getting there.


I spent the morning in play, listening to inspiring podcasts in the gym, having engaging conversations with friends while strolling local parks, and taking stock of where I was on a tree swing in the back yard. Energised, stimulated and physically tired, I sat down with a pen and paper for two hours, screens out of reach, to brainstorm, write, and plan the way forward. Just two focused hours. But wow what a difference they made. What could be possible if I took these two hours every Wednesday, or dare I say, more often?


If you spent more time in flow, protecting that white space and priming it with activities that energise, stimulate and inspire you, what could be possible?


Want to explore this more? Let’s talk.

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