For my birthday, a friend gifted me with a copy of Kendra Adachi’s book The Lazy Genius Way, and I recently sat down and opened it. The next day, I’d devoured it. I realized I desperately wanted (and needed) to become a lazy genius. Bear with me – this isn’t as contradictory or as crazy as it sounds.
So what does it mean to be a lazy genius, exactly? The theory Kendra has embraced is that we can’t do everything with excellence, but we can do a some things (especially those things we love) really well. She brilliantly suggests that we pick those things we care the most about, and then put our energy towards doing those things. These are the areas to be a “genius.” For everything else, let’s be “lazy!” Being lazy doesn’t mean not doing anything, but rather putting in the least effort possible to get the most bang for our energy buck. And the way you do that is by embracing her Lazy Genius principles.
To break it down even further, an example.
My friend Rachel LOVES to plan trips. I was reminded of this recently when I traveled with her. Rachel had planned out dinner each night, and had flexible options for breakfast and lunch each day. She’d scoped out neighborhoods to visit, shops we each loved, and the days all the places were open or worked best for our schedule. I haven’t asked her but I’m guessing it took her a considerable amount of time over the course of a few weeks to scope out the best restaurants, our favorite shops, and to fit everything in to the timeframe of our visit. She definitely wasn’t lazy about it. But she didn’t need to be. Trip planning is something she loves. And she’s great at it. So while those hours of planning would have felt exhausting and draining to me, they filled my friend right up. She didn’t need to minimize the effort or be overly efficient – the effort and the task brought her joy.
You see, the idea isn’t to be a machine who is efficient in all areas of life, it is about being more efficient in the areas of life that don’t bring as much joy to maximize the time we can spend on those things that are most meaningful to us.
My Favorite Lazy Genius Principles
Ask the Magic Question
For busy families, weeknight dinnertime can be a little crazy. Everyone converges on the kitchen from work or school or after-school activities ready to eat. The problem is … the dinner needs to be made. So, a magic question we might often ask, and one that Kendra lays out in her book is, “What can I do now to make dinner easier later?” That could look like meal planning several days in advance, chopping vegetables as soon as you bring them home, keeping a running grocery list, setting out the ingredients for a recipe on the counter in the morning, or filling our pot for cooking rice or noodles with water, so that when you get home, it will actually be easier to make dinner. Doing these seemingly unimportant things as you have time, when you’re already in the kitchen in the morning, for example, does actually save crucial minutes (and sanity!) when everyone around you is starving.
Live In the Season
This principle encourages that we live in the season that we are in – whatever that season may be. Say you’re like me and you have small children: in this season having an expectation for quiet Saturday mornings spent sipping coffee and reading on the couch is not based in reality. What is much more likely is that Saturday mornings will start early and be loud, with kids playing and running through the house or piled on the sofa watching cartoons. This principle suggests that we embrace this season, perhaps using the time where we’re at home together without a real schedule or agenda to make pancakes while we listen to music and create memories, or even walk to the neighborhood coffee shop with the early morning krewe. While this current season won’t be quiet or peaceful, it can be full of joy and love, if we’ll embrace it.
Build the Right Routines
This principle sounds the most “self-helpy” in the title, but where this principle differs from most other discussions of routines is that in The Lazy Genius Way, the routine itself isn’t the focus. There is no exact formula for a morning routine that works for everyone. Instead, routines are meant to prepare us to do the things that matter (to us!) each day. What freedom! We get to pick what matters and what routines to embrace to help us get to what matters. And because routines often seem overwhelming and scary, Kendra suggests that the best way to embrace a new routine is to start small, with one small step, and something you will actual do, to keep you motivated.
Most Important Takeaway
Here’s what I love most about the book, and the Kendra’s message as a whole. The Lazy Genius Way isn’t a self-help book in that in encourages the reader follow a set of cookie cutter steps and get a cut and paste result. Rather, as an actual individual, with unique desires, life situation, preferences, each person gets to decide what she cares enough about to be a genius. And the rest, we can learn to follow some really fun (but also actually spot on) tips for how to get things done using the least energy/time/effort possible, to free us up for those things that mean the most to us. How brilliant!
So what about you – What do you love to do? Do you have enough time to spend doing it? If not, consider becoming a lazy genius, and see what happens.
For more on Kendra’s Lazy Genius philosophy, check out the Lazy Genius Collective.