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Lazy People Are Stealing Your Time, But You Can Help Prevent It

© Getty Images   Man taking a quick nap on the couch

By Kevin Daum, Inc.

You can't stop their behavior, but you can change how you react. Minimize its impact on you with these steps.

Last week I talked about how dishonest people steal your time in ways you may not even realize. Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there. Lazy people are stealing your time, too, with no less impact on your life than the dishonest people of the world. Of course, lazy people also steal your patience, forgiveness, and faith in humanity, so perhaps it's not a huge surprise to you.

I'm an Airbnb host, and it's amazing to me how frequently guests simply do not read the instructions. I've even taken to putting a disclaimer at the beginning of the instructions I send them: "YOU MUST READ ALL THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY!" Still they often ask simple questions that would be solved if they simply read what I sent - or even if they'd actually read the original listing.

Like last week, I would like to present solutions to my dear readers, but here too I am powerless to do so. All I can do is prepare you: point out where to watch for the most frequent violators, and suggest ways to minimize their impact on your life. Here are tips to help make your life as immune to the laziness of others as possible:


1. Those Without Diligence

To me, this is the epitome of laziness. It doesn't take much - just a little attention. I'd save so much time if my Airbnb guests would just read the instructions. I put a lot of time into making them clear. Teachers, too, would save time if students carefully read directions, instead of bombarding them with emails. Many parents and bosses, no doubt, feel this way too.

When you find yourself in a situation where you must give directions to others, put in the effort ahead of time to make them as clear as possible. If you find that you're getting the same question repeatedly, consider making it part of your standard information sharing. Bullet points and numbered lists will help them stay focused for long enough. You could also give a quick summary at the top, to prepare them for what to watch out for.


2. Non-Planners 

You know who they are: they're the driver who realizes late that his exit is coming up, and has to get over 4 lanes in the last quarter mile. They're the person ahead of you in line who's had several minutes to make a decision, but is still vexed when they get up to the counter. They're the person walking their dog who forgot to bring a bag.

Please, think ahead, if not for your sake, then for the sake of those around you. If you know something is coming up, get ready for it. It'll go smoother for you and for everyone else. Think through the cause and effect of upcoming actions, and prepare accordingly. You'll get things done faster, too! And for those who must tolerate non-planners, try to leave extra time and forgiveness in your day for them. They don't mean malice, even if their impact may make it feel like they do.


3. Shortcutters

In my opinion, even worse than the non-planners are those who delay on purpose, hoping instead to take a shortcut. It's one thing if you don't read the directions carefully, and don't realize your turn is coming up. It's entirely another if you know it's coming up, but you still try to sneak into the turn late at the last minute so you don't have to wait in the long line. It's unfair to those who did plan their lane selections carefully, and it makes people less likely to let the innocent into the lane because they suspect even the innocent could actually be a cheater.

Leave yourself some extra time to deal with the shortcutters. Make a decision not to be angry or frustrated when it inevitably happens that they interfere with your day. Don't let their selfishness overtake your positive energy. And shortcutters, rethink your actions and motivations. Karma is a killer.


4. The Impatient

That's right - those who trying to speed things up may actually be slowing things down even worse. There may be a reason things are inefficient - like how dishonest people steal your time without you knowing it - that you cannot control. If there's an opportunity to improve a system, suggest it! But make sure you do so in the spirit of being constructive, not just venting frustration. Remember that your impatience can fluster the other person, making them move slower, or could trigger the system to acknowledge your disapproval, which could also slow it down.

Expressing anger isn't a productive response. Instead of making a wise comment about the person who's looking for correct change in their coin purse, see if you can come up with the coins faster. Consider that the person slowing you up could be having a terrible day and just need a little mercy from the universe. Instead of spreading negative energy, spread calm, and maybe even some joy. You might need it one day from someone else.

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