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  • Anna Kopp

Laziness is the new black

You know that dreaded question in job interviews: what are your strengths and weaknesses? Strengths: the list of awesomeness has no end! Weaknesses? Moi?


Bill Gates, for any Microsoftie a cherished spiritual and technical guide, allegedly once said: "hire a lazy person to do a difficult job". Why? "Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it."


I tried it out in a job interview some years ago, and told the interviewer that one of my greatest strengths was my laziness. Obviously his mouth dropped, and then his face turned into a big question mark which prompted me to elaborate. I explained that I put a lot of thought into doing the right thing. Diligence is not at the top of my armoury of skills I chose to use for everything I do. Come on: We all work a lot, but what I really want to do is to work smart. SO many things you can mention to underline your point, like having a penchant to prioritising well. Efficiency and time savings. Time that can be used for innovation and ideas.


Here is something I learned long ago and practise to this day. When I have meetings with my manager or an important stakeholder and take notes on the actions, I have a double page open. The most important lazy technique is to immediately assess actions in the following categories:


1. Will remember they asked for it;

2. might remember they asked for it;

3. will not remember they asked for it.


Very clear priorities! On an open double page I write down category 1 actions top left. Category 3 goes bottom right. Category 2 I try to assess if they lean towards Nirvana or Primetime TV by noting down either bottom left if they are leaning towards important whereas if I deem them to lean towards being forgotten by the time I close the door BUT maybe there is a slight chance that I get a reminder, I put them top right. Now you guess in which order you tackle them. And which ones you are paid to not do, because you are prioritising.


Now comes the most crucial part: make sure you promise something that you can execute immediately. Like, "right after the meeting on the way to your desk from your mobile" kind of immediately. Send an article, forward an email, send a document, o a calendar invite. This signals that you are taking the other persons topics very seriously, you prioritise them as a person, and you are trustworthy and you deliver. ASAP. Stat.


This buys you time for the other things while signalling that you are SO on it.


It works.


A lazy person has more in category 3. A crafty person would take all actions, write them down in the order they were discussed and work them off in order. Not lazy. Not smart.


There is one more general action category: things you enjoy doing or things which involves people you enjoy working with. Those should go waaaaay up top left!


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