How can I Fight Laziness?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A number of people get just enough sleep to make it through an average workday, with perhaps a little energy to spare for dinnertime. Meanwhile, all of these unfinished chores and unfulfilled personal interests pile up around them. By the weekend, all hopes of accomplishing anything constructive are gone, and the result is often that the person doesn't manage to do much at all.  Laziness can be defeated, however, once a few changes have been made in your mindset.

Washing the dishes soon after a meal can help prevent laziness.
Washing the dishes soon after a meal can help prevent laziness.

Ironically, one way to combat laziness is to get more sleep.  Many people are perpetually sleep deprived, since they stay up too late to unwind and get up too early to prepare for work. Sleep-deprived people are prone to expend all of their energy at work and have little motivation once they arrive home.  This works hand in hand with a lack of motivation and a tendency to procrastinate. By adjusting your sleep schedule to provide a few more hours of meaningful rest, you can fight the urge to do nothing throughout the day.

Doing laundry before it piles up in a hamper can help against laziness.
Doing laundry before it piles up in a hamper can help against laziness.

Another way to fight this problem is to change your mindset from passive to active. Some people treat their lives as if some invisible taskmaster were pushing and pulling them from project to project.  Others take a more proactive approach, viewing each project or task as a challenge that they alone must overcome.  Laziness sets in when you no longer feel in charge of your own life. Change your mindset to that of a driven CEO of the most powerful company in the world, and you really want to plow through all of those petty details stopping you from total world domination.

A hammock in the backyard might be nice, but it could keep someone from her lawnmower.
A hammock in the backyard might be nice, but it could keep someone from her lawnmower.

Some people remove the temptations that encourage them to be lazy.  A hammock in the backyard might be nice, but it could be the stumbling block between you and the lawnmower. A television in the den or living room may provide entertainment, but several TVs scattered throughout the house often promote the tendency to devote all of your attention to the box. Create a reward system for yourself, much like parents might do for a child to promote responsibility. Complete a certain number of chores and reward yourself with a gourmet dinner. If you're a hobbyist, celebrate after completing a project.

Going for a run is a good way to combat laziness.
Going for a run is a good way to combat laziness.

Laziness can be a learned behavior, so examine your home and work environment. People who have a lot of downtime on the job, waiting for others to complete their assignments, can use that time to catch up on paperwork or sketch out future plans. Don't copy co-workers who are prone to slack off whenever the supervisor leaves or the workload lessens  Even the most motivated worker can fall into this trap on the job if he or she doesn't create a constructive diversion.

Having a personal trainer can help someone avoid laziness behavior and meet fitness goals.
Having a personal trainer can help someone avoid laziness behavior and meet fitness goals.

The urge to do nothing can also be a recurring problem at home as well. Spouses and children may all have different energy levels, but a chronic lack of activity can be contagious if not addressed promptly. To fight it in your household, lead by example.  Be the first to collect and wash dishes after a meal.  Do not allow household garbage bags to collect by the can. Others in the home may eventually follow your example and perform their own chores, since it's often difficult to do nothing when surrounded by motivated people.

A person's diet can contribute to feelings of laziness.
A person's diet can contribute to feelings of laziness.

Starting an exercise regimen can also help.  Exercise and a proper diet can raise the body's metabolic rate and stamina, which in turn reduces the temptation to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Some chronic lack of motivation may be triggered by depression or other emotional energy drain, so it helps to find a stimulating activity that can pull you out of the doldrums.

Caffeine can usually give people the energy boost needed to fight laziness.
Caffeine can usually give people the energy boost needed to fight laziness.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


Be confident in yourself and not other people. Forget what everybody else says to you.


I'm a student and really find it hard to start doing tasks even though it is very important or urgent. I've always sleep late or no sleep at all so that must be the real cause of my laziness. I don't feel motivated and the task rewarding. I think I need to think of others too and become a model for them not to be lazy just like me. I need to have a positive environment and outlook in my life about what I am going to be when I do this and that. Overall, I really find this article helpful! Thanks!


@vigilant - Personally I think it depends on the definition of being lazy. I know a lot of writers and they often look like they aren't doing much, but they are plotting and planning their next story. I'm sure the same thing happens with artists of all stripes. You need time to process the world.

This article reminds me of one of my favorite quotes about laziness. "Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him."

But, the thing is, the thought of potential poverty isn't the way I motivate myself not to be lazy. Pretty much the only thing that gets me going every time is to think about how I might die tomorrow. That sounds really morbid, I know, but it's true. And it gets me out of bed.

The other thing I've had to watch is the fact that often if I give in and allow myself to start watching TV or whatever, it's too difficult to stop watching. So I try to get done whatever I need to get done before I sit in front of the TV (or, more often these days, the internet.)

I read a really good article recently that goes into this to some extent, at least in terms of motivation. It talked about how a lot of people seem to feel like good intentions are enough. They really think that just because they intend to garden, that makes them a gardener. Or just because they intend to one day write that novel, that makes them a writer.

But, the article emphasized that you are what you do. You can't call yourself an artist unless you create. So, don't be satisfied with intentions. Actually go out and do what you want to do.


Some of the laziest people I know are also the smartest, kindest, and most creative. So maybe it is not a completely bad thing to be lazy.

I find that I am a lot more productive after I work out. It is like I am filled with energy, and even after a long workout I want to come home and get things done.

People say that exercise is a good way to fight depression, and I think that applies to being productive too. If you feel good you want to do something valuable with your time.


I find that it really helps me to schedule my time and then make a real effort to stick to my schedule. Every night before bed I create a schedule for myself that budgets my time and addresses all the things I want to get done that day.

You are probably imagining a list that is nothing but "wash dishes" and "pay electric bill" but I schedule time for fun things too like calling friends or going out to eat.

The schedule is not locked in stone, but if I feel like I have something to do it really helps keep me from just blowing my time in front of the TV or on the internet.


Yes, lack of sleep causes moodiness and leads to laziness. Thanks for the article!


I was looking forward to retirement so that I could get all the jobs done at home that I'd never had time to do while I was working. I now find, with my husband's encouragement, I have become extremely lazy and am not achieving anything. In fact, I am rapidly vegetating.

I need to get out of this rut and hope that your article will spur me on to change my ways. I intend to start tomorrow, and hopefully, start to enjoy life.


I hate to feel like I am lazy. I mean you just sitting around and eating all day and watching t.v, could lead to weight gain and that, which may not be needed. But if you go to work and just don't feel up to anything, still try to defeat this feeling of laziness, and you never now. Something good might come out of it.


I am here. Registered. Not being lazy. This article works.


it's the worst feeling out and i want to get out of that state. i keep putting off things, never staying focused on my goals and i am willing to do what ever it takes to make that change.


Great tips. i am really happy. It covers 90 percent of my challenges. I would seek for some more help. I have got many ideas that would make me a billionaire in few years, but i do not implement them. I find myself doing other things. In short i have got a problem with commitment. Sometimes i consider it being too lazy to do it. Later i find myself regretting it for not doing it! Please advise about this, sir! God Bless!


Nice tips! I am not naturally lazy but I think it was triggered by something that depressed me but I will try not to focus on that and focus more on tasks and things that I need to get done.

Thanks for the useful article.


So true, i have a problem with laziness and this article clearly defines what it is like to be me.

I know what is means to be successful and active but don't have to motivation to pursue. A lot of people count on me to do well, but i feel as if someone else will do it for me.

I'm going to try this. I think it'll work. Thanks a lot. You very well may have changed someone's life


I think the article was very handy I need to get off the couch and start doing something about my life.

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