Lazy VS Efficient

I found myself thinking this morning, about the general idea of employee optimization and efficiency. Specifically contrasting the ideas of efficient and lazy. There’s the idea that “the fastest way to optimize a job is to have a lazy person do it.” I really don’t feel that’s a particularly good adage.

I consider myself to be a fairly efficient employee in the sense that I actively seek to complete my tasks with a minimal input of time and energy. When I phrase it that way, though, it sounds, well, kinda lazy. In truth it’s somewhat more complicated than that. I have spent a lot of time and energy working out how to prevent a lot of the issues and learned where to look when diagnosing new ones. An ounce of prevention is with a pound of cure and all that.

So I started thinking, then, that you need a somewhat oxymoronic “motivated lazy person” to optimize a process then. I end up with the same definition problem though, of what separates the useful lazy “efficient” from the traditional “do as little as possible” lazy. It naturally seems the same, at a glance.

As I’ve though about it I began to compare the outcomes of those two scenarios. In the first “efficient” case, you end up with a task that requires less time and effort to complete, but achieves the same end result, possibly even a better one. In the second “lazy” case I keep coming back to the less time and effort being achieved at the expense of the end result. Less time and effort was invested, but instead of the same result, it simply had less result.

In a way I don’t think the motivation is necessarily that much different, but how the objective is achieved is. Putting a truly “lazy” individual on a job won’t show you how to do it more efficiently as much as how not to do it to begin with.

Of course, I smell a ton of grey areas here and things are rarely as cut and dry as they seem. I also suspect that much of this is me justifying my actions to myself. I mean, I basically said there’s a good lazy and a bad lazy and prior to that used the “efficient” label that became the good lazy to describe myself. Protagonist of my own story and all that.

In truth I think everyone is both of these things to varying degrees, depending on context. There are certainly things I could be doing or doing better and the reason for not doing them, however I justify it to myself, is that I can’t be bothered. That it’s not worth the effort, so to speak, and that comes in a wide variety of flavors. From morally questionable actions “because they owe me,” “because they’re rich,” and so on, to the area of diminishing returns. Sometimes it really isn’t worth the cost.

I’m “lazy enough that my blog isn’t super polished, tends to lack images, isn’t really promoted, etc. All things I haven’t done because, well, I just haven’t been bothered to do them. I’m not so “lazy” that I can’t be bothered to write a few hundred words every day about something, though. Thanks for reading, y’all take care.

3 thoughts on “Lazy VS Efficient

  1. Perhaps another way to differentiate the two types of “lazy” is short term/long term perspective.

    I have sat around investing a ton of brainpower for 1-3 days to make macros or scripts so that later, every month/half year/year, I just need to push a button and everything gets done without further blood, sweat and tears. Mostly because I anticipate that the herculean effort now will pay off later.

    On the other hand, if it’s a one-off or something that is not going to be part of a regular sequence of events in which I am involved or if I’m not going to be around long enough to care about it later, the path of least resistance is the “do absolutely nothing” type of lazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm. I also guess I’m guilty as charged. Or at least was, in my old job. I was in a department supporting production. My team was responsible for a system which collected data from many different systems, converted it into a fixed format and stored it into a database.

    Some other workmates responsible for other systems seemed to have been in emergency mode every day. They came in, the calls started. They saved broken data, fixed things, kept their systems running. My collegue and me also noted down what went wrong. First we put up scripts which crosschecked each other and all instances of the converters. When a converter crashed, it moved the input data to another folder, restarted the converter and sent us an e-mail.

    That means, we usually knew about problems before people called and didn’t have such a big data backlog when problems struck. Later we also upgraded the scripts to recognize the most common problems and automatically start some repair scripts on them.

    So from all the department, we were the two who spent time being online or even reading the newspaper. Our boss basically hated us for it, but whenever we had an internal customer review, we got the best evaluation of all people in the department.

    So yes, focused laziness it was. We invested extra work at an early time, so we were able to slack off later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! It’s also one of the reasons I want to do something different. I’ve done just about all I can with the resources I have available at work.

      To the point that I’ve got a side project in the concept phase and materials to start early prototyping. Materials that are my own property and haven’t been used or worked on at work. If they don’t approve the project for use at work I was considering finishing it in my own time and marketing it myself. I dunno, that’s a lot of work.

      I also didn’t do anything quite as in depth as what you did. Mine is mostly sorting lists of data and color coding it, all for our own use to make it easier on us. If it breaks I could always just do it the hard way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s