I am a lazy genius. At least, I aspire to be. You should too, according to Kendra Adachi, author of The Lazy Genius Way. Her book is intended to help you hack your life, from the house, kids and chores, to deciding how to spend your time, without the shame of comparison or the guilt of not being good enough. Adachi says “being a Lazy Genius is not about doing things the right way but about finally finding your own way.”
Being a mom with young kids, Adachi admits to feeling shame when her house is a mess, when the kids are chaotic, and when her pantry doesn’t resemble an Instagram photo shoot. It took her years, but she thinks she’s finally cracked the code. You can’t get it all done, right now, perfectly. If you’re still working on that, you’re doomed to failure and feeling bad about yourself.
She describes it like this:
Here’s what we do as women. We pick our spot in the sand to dig a hole, checking to see if the women around us are choosing similar (or, gulp, better) spots, trying not to be distracted by their motherly patience and bikini bodies. We start digging, hoping the hole is deep enough and headed in the right direction. Where is it going? No idea, but who cares. Everyone else is digging, so we dig too.
Eventually it’s time to start hauling buckets to fill the hole. We carry load after load of “water”—color-coded calendars, room-mom responsibilities, meal plans, and work-life balance. We haul. We try. We sweat. And we watch that hole stay empty.
Now we’re confused. Does everyone else have this figured out? Is my hole too deep? And where is all the water going? We pause to catch our breath, wondering if everyone else feels like an epic failure too. One person can’t possibly keep up with a clean house, a fulfilling job, a well-adjusted family, an active social life, and a running regimen of fifteen miles a week, right?
With silence our only answer, we decide, No, it’s just me. I need to get it together.
She’s finally decided enough is enough.
Now her philosophy comes down to two principles: become really good (genius) about the things that matter to you. Let the rest go (be lazy about what doesn’t matter – to you.) Here’s how it works in real life.
One of her Lazy Genius principles is “Make decisions once – and then never again.” Part of what’s so exhausting about modern life is the infinite array of choices we have. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a choice once and not vary it until it stops working for you.
Adachi wears the same few colors all the time (for the record, it’s my uniform, too.) Black, denim, Navy Blue. That’s it. No choices, no dithering over what to wear. It saves her hours every week as she’s getting dressed.
Maybe for your family, Monday is meatloaf night. Tacos on Tuesday, pizza on Friday. Serve just one or two terrific meals to new dinner guests. Change the sheets or do the floors every week on the same day. Make the decision once and just do it. I pay bills on Sunday afternoons, every week. I never even open the envelopes when they arrive in the mail, just store them until I’m ready to take on household finances.
Adachi gives her kids’ teachers gifts three times a year, and they always get the same things: for Christmas, a book (the same book for every teacher.) For Teacher Appreciation Day, a Target gift card. For the last day of school, a heartfelt thank-you note. It works for them, and it works for her.
Find something that works and keep doing it until it no longer works. Then feel free to change it.
Many of us spend way too much time agonizing over these kinds of choices; trying to select something different because we think we’ll look more thoughtful, more creative, more… special. We squander our mental energy and executive function on decisions that don’t matter in the end. Your decision-making capacity is finite, so don’t waste it trying to decide on or change what’s already working.
In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What decisions could you make once this week and then let go?