March 8

Optimizing for Laziness: How to be Productive When You’re Fucking Lazy

What if you could be lazy and productive simultaneously?  Productive people realize they should be lazy about things that don’t matter. By optimizing for laziness, they’re able to prioritize efforts with a disproportionate Impact .

Facetime Doesn’t Equate to Productivity.

Equating productivity with facetime keeps thousands of employees sitting at their desks, twiddling their thumbs, watching the clock, and pretending to look busy. Organizations and individuals need to measure productivity by output instead of facetime if they want to be effective in today’s economy.

A Business That Generates Six Figures a Month By Optimizing for Laziness

optimizing for laziness
Photographer: Lenny Kuhne | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Minku Kang | Source: Unsplash

A few years ago, my friend Gareth Pronovost started Gap Consulting. To get it off the ground, he built us a fully automated podcast editorial calendar , which automates all of the following.

  • Booking podcasts guests
  • Sending the recording link to guests
  • Notifying guests when their episodes go live
  • Triggering design requests to our artist to create cover art

Since he built our podcast editorial calendar, he’s worked with dozens of fortune 500 companies to help them Automate repetitive tasks. Today, Gap Consulting is on track to generate over a million dollars in revenue.

Note: If youre lazy, but interested in making rapid progress on your most important projects in under 15 minutes a day, be sure to check out our free creative project planner.

3 Keys to Optimizing for Laziness

optimizing for laziness
Photographer: elizabeth lies | Source: Unsplash

When Gareth and I discussed optimizing for laziness in a recent podcast episode, he said “you can Automate, Delegate or Do a task.” The easiest way to remember this is with the acronym ADD.


Photographer: Laura Ockel | Source: Unsplash

Automation is anything that performs a function with minimal human effort or assistance. -Greg Mckeown, Effortless

Automating repetitive tasks allows you to be lazy, productive, and effective simultaneously.

You’ve already automated plenty of tasks in your life without realizing it. The most common is autopay for utilities, services, apps, subscriptions, etc.  You do something once and benefit from it repeatedly.

Document the Process in Explicit Detail

Warren Buffet once said, build a company that idiots can run because eventually, they will. The same is true for process documentation. Assume that you’re explaining the process to the dumbest person you know.

The algorithms that make workflow automation possible are like digital idiot savants or stupid robots that only understand “if-then” instructions.

When Gareth built our fully automated podcast editorial calendar , he made me write down every step for publishing a podcast as if I was explaining it to a five-year old.

  • First, subtract unnecessary steps and simplify the process for completing a task
  • Second, always ask yourself, “how am I making this more difficult than it needs to be?”
  • Third, create checklists or video tutorials that make it easy for someone else to complete the task.

Imagine an idiot will be doing your job for the day, and document the process accordingly.

Account for Variables That Change

The number of variables that change in completing a task determines how easy it is to automate. The fewer variables there are, the easier it will be to automate. Variables for Task Automation include the number of steps, apps, tools, and people involved in the process.

Automate Tasks Where The Content Changes, But the Process Doesn’t

When you record a podcast, publish a blog post, or send a newsletter, the content changes, but the process rarely does. For example, when I conduct interviews for the Unmistakable Creative, the only thing that changes is the guest. I can automate every part of the process other than conducting an interview.

Automate Any Task You Complete Multiple Times a Week

Anytime I’ve done the same task more than three times in one week, I automate it. For example, every few days, I submit a design request to our artist to create the cover art for upcoming episodes.

Rather than do this manually, I built a simple automation based on specific parameters that automatically sends her a request to create new album covers for forthcoming episodes

Now that you have some basic guidelines for automating repetitive tasks, let’s talk about how.

Identify the key variables and Map the Process

The variables for completing a task are your inputs. The completed task is your output.

  • What apps, tools, or services do you need to complete your task. For example, to send someone an email, you use Gmail.
  • Determine who completes which portion of the task. (i.e., the designer creates an album cover for the podcast, virtual assistant proofreads a blog post, etc).

Creating a mind map of your workflow enables you to determine potential bottlenecks and which parts of your process you can automate.

Build the Workflow Automation

To automate repetitive tasks, you’ll use a tool called Zapier, which uses a combination of triggers and actions. Triggers are the if-statements, and actions are the then-statements for your automation. Let’s look at some examples.

Transcribing Audio Files

  • Trigger: If there’s a new audio file in a specific dropbox folder
  • Action: Send a request to Descript to create a transcript

Sending Emails and Receiving Emails

  • Trigger: If there’s a new record in my spreadsheet
  • Action: Send an email to someone
  • Trigger: If a specific person sends me an email
  • Action: Create a task in Trello for me to respond

I’ve included a brief video tutorial below to demonstrate how this works.

2. Delegate

Photographer: Kelly Sikkema | Source: Unsplash

During Christmas vacation in 2019, my dad wanted me to help him clean the garage. He thought I was being a smartass when I told him that I would hire a high school kid to help but wouldn’t lift a finger.

If the cost per hour to complete a task is less than what you’d pay yourself to do it, you should delegate it to someone else. It’s why CEOs have executive assistants to manage their calendars, book appointments, and make reservations.

If your time is worth $5000 an hour, spending 30 minutes on the phone with a customer service person costs you $2500.00. If you want to manage your time more effectively, place a high dollar value on it.

Most people are good at a few things and mediocre at everything else. Instead of wasting time on things you suck at, focus on your superpowers, delegate the rest .

Design workflows for people to stay in their zone of genius so you can stay in yours.

When you automate repetitive tasks, you delegate those tasks to technology. But when you can’t automate a repetitive task, delegate it to someone whose hourly rate is lower than yours.

3. Do

Someone else can do 80% of the things that cause you to waste countless hours every week. For any task, there are always things that nobody else can do but you.

For example, my audio engineer can edit our interviews, our designer can illustrate the album covers, and our virtual assistant can edit the transcripts for each episode. But I’m the only person that can conduct interviews.

If you want to optimize for laziness, you have to prioritize efforts with a disproportionate Impact . One way to think of this is through something I call the task-impact hierarchy.

  • Do tasks that have the highest impact
  • Delegate the ones that have a medium impact
  • Automate tasks with the lowest impact

Do the things that nobody else can do but you. Delegate and automate the rest.

The Caveat

Attempting to automate something you’ve never done is a recipe for disaster. Don’t delegate or automate something you’ve never done yourself. If you have no idea how to complete a task, then you’ll sound like an idiot when you explain it to someone else.

Why Optimizing for Laziness is So Effective

Optimizing for laziness enables you to focus on your highest impact tasks, get more done in less time, and make progress on your most important projects. It might sound counterintuitive, but the lazier you are, the better you’ll be at automating repetitive tasks.


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