I have four outdoor lights. One is a porch light at our front door. Two more are lights on either side of the garage. And the fourth is a lamppost light out by the sidewalk, which has a daylight sensor. None of them work at night.
One of them has a valid excuse not to work: it has a part that is actually broken (the daylight sensor), and it’s still covered under our home warrantee so I’m just waiting on our home builders to actually get out here and replace it.
But the other three have no excuse for not working. They simply have burnt out lightbulbs, and I’ve been meaning to get out and change them for weeks. Honestly, maybe even months by now. It’s pathetic, really.
If you asked me to my face why those lights are still out, I’d probably give you some BS response about just not having had a chance to get out and change them yet. If I was feeling particularly blunt I’d probably tell you that they just aren’t a priority to me.
Now it takes what, 5 minutes to change a light bulb? That includes the time it takes to get the light bulb, and unscrew the tiny, obnoxious housing the exterior lights are in (which by the way, doesn’t seem to actually protect them from much because these lights seem to die every few months). So even with three lights to change, that’s a total of 15 minutes, or - if we are being really generous and want to account for extra time fiddling with one of the housing screws because it’s threaded so shallow - 20 minutes at most.
So am I really trying to claim that I have not had a spare 20 minutes to address something of somewhat - albeit minor - importance in the past several weeks? No, that would be complete BS.
In all honesty, I’ve just been way too lazy to change them.
Calling a spade a spade
Often, I joke that I don’t do something because I’m just too lazy, when what I really mean is I’m actually too busy. But most of the time, I claim that I’m too busy to do things when what I’m really avoiding confessing is that I’m just too lazy to address it.
Each of us has different tendencies. Some of us have a tendency to work very hard. For those of us in that boat, we often don’t think of ourselves as lazy, because most of the time we are working hard.
But laziness isn’t just about failing to work hard. Laziness is often a simple reluctance to avoid doing things we really should be doing, regardless of the amount of effort required.
For example, as a developer, there’s lots of tiny little best practices that I can choose to follow, or to ignore when writing my code. The extent to which I adhere to all of the existing best practices is the extent to which my code will turn out to be solid, performant, scalable, and whatever other meaningful buzzwords you can think of.
But what if I just skip one or two of those best practices because they are something I don’t particularly feel like doing, they only return nominal benefits, and hey - I’ve got all the “most important ones” covered?
The answer is I’ll likely have good code, but it won’t be the best it can be. And that’s the point.
Being the best, making the best, striving for the best requires effort, attention to detail, and a commitment to meticulously seeing things through to their full end. To be honest, it requires obsession. What it does not require, is busyness.
Laziness is the enemey of making things the best they can be. If we are to practice laziness, let’s at least not try to hide it under the guise of busyness. And let’s certainly not pretend that busyness is a virtue unto itself, as if it is the opposite of laziness.
Busyness is not the opposite of laziness. Diligence is the opposite of laziness. Let’s press ever forward in diligence, aspiring to tend to both the things we are excited to do, and the things which we dread or bore to do, yet are nonetheless important.
A lazy person doesn’t even bother to cook what he’s hunted; but diligence itself is a precious posession. - Proverbs 12:27