The Lazy Trap (en-n; phrase, made up): A common conundrum often caused by stress or fatigue in which it is decided that engaging in mindless, solitary, meaningless activity (such as watching TV) will be beneficial, despite its likelihood to actually cause further fatigue, anxiety or even depression due to increased workload from deferred responsibility.
You get home from work. You said you were going to clean because your parents are visiting this weekend. You also planned to make a few phone calls and bake scones, because baking makes you happy! Instead, you spend the whole night on the couch, watching a marathon (not even current episodes!) of Jersey Shore. You’ve just fallen into The Lazy Trap.
The Lazy Trap is closely related to procrastination. You’re putting things off, and thereby increasing the pain you’ll encounter later (like when you have to wake up 2 hours early to clean, even as you should be practicing a presentation you have to give at work).
But there’s more to it than just delaying responsibility. Sometimes you’re not actually shirking responsibility. One of the bonuses of the post-grad, pre-parenthood period that many young adults find themselves in is that unlike when you were in school and before you have kids, your evenings and weekends are often free time.
I dream of using my free time constructively. Practice other languages. Expand my cooking skills. Sew. Write. Do things that contribute to my sense of worth and add to what makes me an interesting, unique person.
And when I do these things, I do feel happier! I feel cooler! More alive, even.
But post-work especially, it’s just so easy to instead lay on the couch and do nothing.
Just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should. You know you’d be happier if you did something more useful than watching TV. It’s maddening to think that we knowingly do something that undercuts our ultimate happiness. Self-sabotage.
I had a discussion with a friend recently about this frustrating phenomenon. While we tried to psych ourselves up for a non-lazy evening, we also struck upon a possible work-around for the lazy trap: planned laziness.
One of the most twisted aspects of the lazy trap is the guilt that ensues when you give in. I feel bad about myself for wasting an entire evening, which makes me even less happy, and maybe even more tired. I get down on myself.
But sometimes we are legitimately tired. Work of any sort is tiring, even if you love it. So when you’re exhausted, an evening on the couch watching TV or better yet, reading (or whatever you consider deliciously lazy behavior) is both deserved and necessary.
Planned laziness could be the way to eliminate the guilt and reign in the temptation to give in every night.
And I mean literally planned: Monday night is writing night. Tuesday we play soccer. Wednesday I work on that project I’m doing for a friend. Thursday is Planned Laziness Night. Friday it’s out with friends.
Scheduling the down time is permission, hopefully eliminating the guilty, self-sabotage feeling. And then it could be truly restful and actually address the excuse we’ve always used to “fall” into the lazy trap.
I’m going to give it a go–could help with some of those New Year’s Resolutions.
Do you plan laziness? Does it work? Or have you also been equally frustrated with the lazy trap?