It’s not all lazy or all genius. You get to choose somewhere in between. If you engage every area of your life without thinking about what matters to you (and what needs to move along), you’ll eventually find yourself at crossroads – run yourself ragged caring about everything or give up and care about nothing.
The Lazy Genius Way (LGW) offers a different path. Be a genius about things that matter and lazy about things that don’t. The following LGW principles will help you learn not only what needs a shortcut but also how to create one. They’ll teach you to pay attention to your priorities and carve out important space in your day to nurture growth in those areas.
LGW Principle #1: Decide Once
You might think that the decision making process is robotic. Automation makes you a robot only if you automate ‘everything’. We make a lot of decisions every day, like a lot. Constant decision-making is one of the reasons we don’t have energy for things that matter. By finding ways to decide once and then never again, we give our brain more room to play. You can decide once in almost every area of your life, giving fits, getting dressed, making meals, cleaning the house and creating workplace rituals.
Start doing: Identify one thing that is stressing you now. Make one ‘fixed’ decision to make it easier. One, not thirty-seven.
LGW Principle #2: Start Small
Make ‘movement’ not necessarily the finish line, as a new goal. Want to take vitamins every day? Put the bottle on the counter each morning. Want to cook every night? Start with Tuesdays. Want to develop a cleaning routine? Wipe off the kitchen counter each night before bed. Want to have a thriving business? Call one potential client a day.
Small steps are easy. Easy steps are sustainable. Sustainable steps actually go somewhere. Small doesn’t mean wasteful. Small choices really add up.
Start doing: Name an area in your life that matters but often get less attention. Choose a tiny step you can take to move forward in that area. Then do it every single day.
LGW Principle #3: Ask the Magic Question
When paired with brutal honesty, the magic question will become a favorite tool in your LGW swiss army knife because it’s as effective as it’s simple.
What can I do to make writing a post easier later? Collect ideas in a voice memo and put the computer nearby when I’m ready to write. What can I do to make getting dinner from the freezer easier later? Label the meals so I’m not stuck playing ‘what’s in this bag?” What can I do to make paying bills easier later? Have a basket specifically for time-sensitive mail adn set an alarm to remind every two weeks.
Start doing: What’s up next in your day? Ask yourself the magic question and see what happens.
LGW Principle #4: Live in the Season
You can desire things that others don’t’. You can struggle with things that others find joy. You can care about what matters to you even if it doesn’t matter to the rest. We can all lovingly and compassionately exist together in that tension. Nature’s seasons and your particular season of life all have something to teach you.
Start doing: Look out the window. Look at the ground. Look at the sky. Notice what the season wants to teach you in that exact moment. It might sound ridiculous but it helps.
LGW Principle #5: Build the Right Routines
Build your routines… but slowly. If you rush it, they’ll always let you down. The routine itself isn’t what matters, it’s an on-ramp to help prepare you for what does. Create a routine for any task or time of day but begin with what matters to you, not with the steps to get there.
Start doing: Evaluate your mornings through LGW lens and see if you’re preparing for the right thing. If not, choose one tiny step to move in the right direction and start marching.
LGW Principle #6: Set House Rules
Stepping on a Lego wont’ turn you into a monster but stepping on a Lego after you’ve done the dishes, found a permission slip that was due weeks ago and realized you left a gallon of milk in the van for a few hours, 100 percent will.
When setting your house rules, your goal is to identify that fits domino and keep it from falling. By doing so, you keep the rest of your dominoes and your connection with others upright.
Start doing: Is there a fight in your family on a regular basis? Have a casual conversation together and brainstorm ideas for one simple house rule that you could commit.
LGW Principle #7: Put Everything In Order
Cluster doesn’t necessarily mean you have too much stuff. Clutter means your stuff is all over the place. When you put everything where it belongs and live within the limits of your space, your home will be at peace and hold what matters most. As you put everything to its place, you’ll also see what doesn’t belong.
Start doing: Go put away one thing. Then tomorrow, do the same.
LGW Principle #8: Let People In
It’s okay if you don’t come away with a lifelong relationship after inviting someone into your life. The lesson is still worth it. Let people into your everyday life without apology. And when you need help, ask for it. You don’t have to be in a crisis to get help.
Start doing: Text someone to share an eye poke or to invite them to hang out. Maybe now?
LGW Principle #9: Batch It
How do you find jobs to batch? You look for tasks that you repeatedly do. Yes, that includes making lunches for your kids. Going into autopilot while batching doesn’t make you lazy. It creates space for what matters.
Start doing: Clean your kitchen tonight using batching. See if it speeds up the process.
LGW Principle #10: Essentialize
True fulfillment comes from subtraction, from removing everything that distracts you from what matters and leaving only what’s essential. Consider three steps to essentialize:
- Name what really matters
- Remove what’s in the way
- Keep only the essentials
Does your makeup make you crazy? Use only a handful. Does the carpool line make you crazy? Don’t forget that you get to pick up your kids with a smile instead of being annoyed with how poorly the line is set up.
Start doing: Essentialize your silverware drawer.
LGW Principle #11: Go In the Right Order
Any task, from filling out a spreadsheet not having a hard conversation, can be improved by three simple steps:
- Remember what matters
- Calm the crazy
- Trust yourself
You know yourself more than anyone else. You’re the best person to know what you need and in what order. Yes, others can give you beautiful insights and it’s a gift to receive it, but not at the expense of your own voice.
Start doing: If you have a to-do list for today, pick one and go through three simple steps. Pay attention to how you feel and your efficiency levels.
LGW Principle #12: Schedule Rest
If you want to embrace what matters, you need mindfulness and energy to do it. Both are fueled by rest. Rest doesn’t happen on its own. You have to create it.
Start doing: Schedule an entire day just for yourself in the next three months. Just one day.
LGW Principle #13: Be Kind to Yourself
Remember you are your own best friend. And if you’re kind to your friends, why wouldn’t you be kind to yourself? Without affection for ourselves, without softness on the inside, without being kind to ourselves, we’ll always be tired.
Value who you’re now and lovingly accept it without any judgement on the past or on the future. Focus on how you’re becoming more of yourself. And celebrate little accomplishments that make you whole today.
Start doing: Text a friend about a small victory. You could say “I’m feeling really proud of myself. Just wanted to share. Thanks for being the kind of friend who celebrates the little things with me.”
As we come to an end, you need to remember two things.
First, you must never feel guilty about what matters to you. If eating out and enjoying your city is what matters to you, don’t think it’s not valid because it doesn’t look the same as someone who’d rather have people around her kitchen table and go to bed at nine. Everything matters because we all matter and different things matter to each of us. Name what matters to you. That’s all that counts.
Second, you are enough. You can stop trying to be ideal, future you and carrying a load you were never meant to carry. Let go of the working, the listing, the striving – all the things you’re doing to deserve the love of people around you. You are enough.