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In Praise of Laziness

A long-time client came to see me and reported that she had been enjoying several “lazy days” in a row.  And I was thrilled to hear it.

This particular client has perfectionist tendencies, and because of that, she has a lot of difficulty relaxing.  So to say she’d been lazy–rather than using some euphemism for it, or getting down on herself for it–was something of a victory.

How do you know if you could use a little more laziness in your life?The first clue is that you feel like there’s always more to do.  You tell yourself that you’ll relax as soon as you get on top of everything.  Just finish off that to-do list, and laziness will be yours.

For many of us, there’s a certain delusional quality to this type of thinking.  The to-do list always has a late addition.  Or it turns out that one of the items has mote steps than we thought.

The reality is that for most of us, there is always more to be done.  Or we could always do things just a little better.  And the chronic pursuit of “more” and “better” can be pretty draining.

So the second clue is that you’re always running around, despite your exhaustion.  You don’t really get “caught up” on sleep, but you have to function, you have to get things done.  So you keep going.   What choice do you have?

I’d recommend scheduling some lazy time.  If you could have a whole lazy day, so much the better.  But even some lazy hours can be rejuvenating.  We all need some time when we’re fully off the clock.

But there is no time, you protest.

You have to make it.  You have to prioritize it, the same way you prioritize chores.  Laziness–the feeling that you’re not expected to be or do anything in particular–can be extremely rewarding.

So first, you have to give yourself permission.  You have to make peace with the idea that everything will still be there later (instead of telling yourself you have to do it all in order to earn the time off the clock.)

You should probably also enlist friends and loved ones. They can either remind you that you deserve a little time off (and that it can actually make you a higher functioniong, more productive person) or get some of the to-do list done for you.

A spouse can take over childcare for a morning, or the house cleaning, or various other errands.  Maybe the spouse can take the child along on errands, killing two birds with one stone.

Design your perfect lazy day, your perfect amount of nothing and something, and then have at it.

In Praise of Laziness

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2013). In Praise of Laziness. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Aug 2013
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