The Wikipedia definition of laziness states it as “someone’s disinclination to perform activity or exertion despite having the ability to act or execute”. In simple words, it means our lack of interest to do any activity despite knowing that not doing it will have a negative impact on our life.
For example, we skip exercising knowing perfectly that not doing it is harming our body. We gorge on junk foods knowing perfectly it leads to obesity and heart issues. We prefer to while away our time on Netflix rather than learning a new skill that can help us in the future.
Why do we do this? The reason lies in our addiction to instant gratification. Our mind and body by default, work in the shortcut mode, craving things that are immediately pleasant to do and ignoring things that are not so pleasant. This tendency gradually becomes a bad habit which ultimately pulls us down. Thus laziness is a bad habit which we develop by doing easy things.
Now let us come to productivity.
The state of productivity means getting more shit done in the shortest period of time consistently. People often say productivity means doing things faster than usual. No, productivity simply means doing things in the best possible time, every time, repeatedly.
The key is consistency. For example, if I exercise one day for 2 hours and don’t do anything for the next 5 days, that doesn’t make me productive. But if I exercise regularly everyday 1 hour for the next two months, I am on the way to being productive.
Once we are consistent, the next step is the identification of the most important things and eliminating the rest. So if I am watching Netflix consistently for 2 months, I cannot call myself productive. But if I am using the same time to write 10 pages a day consistently, I am being productive.
So in a nutshell, being super productive has the following steps.
• Identify the most important tasks
• Eliminate the unimportant tasks
• Complete the identified tasks in the shortest period of time (get the shit done)
• Keep improving on the productivity of the tasks to be completed
• Sustain and be consistent
And decades before Marie Kondo became a household name as the Japanese productivity guru due to her iconic book, Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Japan gave one more productivity philosophy to the world, simply called 5S.
5S originated with Japanese inventor Sakichi Toyoda–the founder of Toyota who is also known as the “father of the Japanese industrial revolution.”
The Japanese 5S method is composed of five basic principles that can improve our quality of life.
• Seiri - Sort
• Seiton - Set in Order
• Seiso - Shine
• Seiketsu - Standardize
• Shitsuke - Sustain
Each of these S’s represents a part of a five-step process that can help you become more efficient, organized and productive. Basically, a walking cyborg that optimizes itself. Or in other words, the 5S methodology is meant to help you improve the overall dynamics of both your life and business.
And the said principles are built on two foundations: order and cleanliness.
On a more personal level, 5S can be defined as a set of rules that will help you organize your surroundings to work in your favour, thus boost your productivity. It forces you to manipulate, arrange, and place everything in the right place and in the right order to ensure maximum productivity in any task you do.
We’ll go through them one by one and see how they’ll help us increase our productivity to a maximum.
Seiri - sort
Seiri is a process based on leaving the unnecessary aside.
The main idea here is to remove all unnecessary things- unnecessary tasks, people, gadgets and tools from your life. This is the same as decluttering as explained beautifully by Marie Kondo. Once you remove the unwanted items from your life, you can fill that space with productive items that need your attention.
The more you throw, the less you have to maintain and the more you can focus your energy on tasks/activities that matter. Some questions which can help you to throw shit out can be.
• What is the purpose of the task/item?
• Is it adding any value to my life?
• Have I used it in the last year?
• If I remove it, will I be better or worse?
The answers to the above questions will allow you to classify important elements for the next stage and anything that does not bring joy in your life moves out.
Seiton - set in order
This is the second stage where you organize and plan your identified tasks so that you can do it in the best and shortest way possible.
The goal of this stage is very clear: just make sure you have all the equipment, people, expertise and motivation available to do the task in the shortest possible time. The aim here is to establish a smooth workflow that works for you, not against you. For example, if you are writing a story, you can ask yourself the following questions.
• Is my workstation clean and uncluttered?
• Do I know what to write about?
• Have I done the appropriate research for the article?
• Do I have the contacts whom I can refer to for help?
• Can I write free from distractions?
And so on…...
The core idea behind this stage is focus. Scientific studies have proved that it takes a minimum of 25 minutes to refocus attention back on the work once lost. So rather than wasting time on refocussing, create an organized environment that minimizes distractions and maximizes productivity.
Seiso - shine
In this stage, the person carries out the cleaning process.
The idea here is that organizing and planning is not a onetime activity. It needs to be done on a continuous basis to ensure optimum productivity always. Seiso is all about making sure the things you previously set in order are ready to be used again
For example, coming to the writing example, as you write on a continuous basis you can ask the following questions.
• Is my workplace still clean and uncluttered?
• Do I need to update my research notes? has something changed?
• Do I have the right contact details of the experts?
And so on……
Yes, I know maintaining stuff is not sexy and we sometimes get overwhelmed by laziness. But you need to do it if you want a shining working system in place that makes you money. No shortcuts are allowed.
Seiketsu - standardize
Seiketsu is all about standardizing and establishing a routine so that you don’t fall into the old ways of working again.
This stage aims into converting all the hard work into good habits through a series of established routines that you follow every day without fail. Also, it will force you to document what you’ve done so far so that you can do it again in the future. Coming to the writing example, you can standardize your writing by following some established daily routines.
• Write from 5.30 am to 8.30 am everyday
• Write in short bursts of 90 minutes, then 15 minutes break and then again the next burst
And so on…...
The idea is to create a repetitive process in place which ultimately becomes your lifelong habit. Once that habit gets formed, you become productive in the autopilot mode.
Shitsuke - sustain
Last but not least, you must establish a doctrine so you can keep on improving day after day through discipline.
Yes, you need to still do the task as planned but as you keep on doing it, you need to identify improvement points that can be actionized the next time or even find out better, creative ways of doing the same task. Your task will always remain a work in progress as you find time to revisit it and bring betterment to it.
Remember, the shitsuke stage is a long-time pill that reminds you constantly on your larger objectives and prevents you from getting deviated from the big picture. For example, as a writer, you can do some of these things.
• Get your work reviewed on a regular basis from fellow authors to seek constructive criticism
• Keep an eye on what others are doing. You don’t need to think from original ideas always. You can always steal their ideas bur bring your original perspective to it.
• Regularly audit your work to ensure that your lofty standards of writings are not getting degraded due to complacency.
And so on….
Remember, the main objective here is to keep your ideas fresh and your motivation energized at all times. The changes need not be big and flashy. Even a set of small changes done regularly can transform your messy life into a super productive one. So just go ahead, have faith in yourself and take the 1st step. The rest will follow.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. has rightly said.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”
About the Creator
I am an executive who likes spending time reading and writing about almost everything under the sun.I love writing within the cusp of relationships, history, and creativity where boundaries are blurred, and possibilities are immense.