update from the lazy coworker

by Ask a Manager on March 1, 2013

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Remember the reader last year who struggled with being lazy at work and felt guilty and anxious about it? Here’s an update from him.

I got through a big project barely on time due to my laziness. In the previous post, a commenter recommended “Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement,” which actually was really helpful. I identified that a large part of my problem has been a low frustration tolerance, and found working on that actually really made me a better performer. Not as good as I should be, but getting 5 hours out of 7 a day is a lot better than my previous 1 or 2.

The book also helped me identify why I didn’t want to work hard, which was that I felt like only suckers ever worked hard. I haven’t gone to counseling, but feel I have improved a lot on my own. Thanks for the help!

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Marigold March 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Thanks for coming back and giving an update, OP. I didn’t comment in the original post, but I was very glad you wrote in. It’s a hard thing to admit and ask help for, but I appreciated the discussion. I missed the book recommendation, so I’m glad to go check it out.

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Anonymous March 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I might take a look at the book, too. I’m not the lazy coworker, but I feel I am lazy in my personal life. Maybe this will help.

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Sam March 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Me too! I can be so driven in my career but I’m such a lazy slacker at home!

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Sascha March 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Me too, I feel like I expend all my ambition and productiveness at work and then I’ve got nothing left for when I get home. I’m definitely going to read this.

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The Other Dawn March 2, 2013 at 9:00 am

I’m glad I’m not alone. I feel exactly the same way. I think I need to read the book as well.

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Emily, admin extraordinaire March 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Oh, good! I’m the one that recommended the books, so I’m very glad it was helpful.

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Emily, admin extraordinaire March 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

The book, singular, rather. :P

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Nev March 1, 2013 at 5:09 pm

The book was very helpful to me too. This is one of the extremely useful references I got from this blog, and I thank you for taking the time to offer advice here.

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HSK March 2, 2013 at 4:07 am

This whole topic couldn’t come at a better time for me. The original post could have come from me. And Emily, admin extraordinaire, your original comment about procrastination and description of the younger overachiever to adult underachiever was spot on too. It’s something I’ve struggled with and wanted to change, but not knowing how to. I’m buying and downloading the book onto my e-reader right now. Thank you!

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Oxford Comma March 2, 2013 at 8:36 am

I just read the original thread and have requested the book you recommended. What you described, Emily, admin extraordinaire, that was my college life. I do know that procrastination and perfectionism are heavily linked and that fear plays a huge part in it too. This is something I’ve been working on personally. Really looking forward to the book now! And OP, glad to hear things are turning around for you!

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Sarah from Long Island March 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Thank you very much, Miss Emily!!

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Kristen March 4, 2013 at 10:35 am

I just went to your comment on the original post and am ordering this book right now. Thank you!

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akb March 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm

This is super useful for me as well, so thanks for the recommendation!

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Sarah from Long Island March 1, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Thank you ever so much for both your original post and for your update. I found that both what you wrote and the commentary that the original post provoked to be quite enlightening. The book recommendation may prove to be very helpful as well. Thanks for having the guts to go there!!! And also, thanks to everyone else who took the time to read it and add their thoughts on the matter. You all may have helped more people than you may realize. Cheers!

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De Minimis March 1, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Very glad for the update.

I may look into reading that book too.

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EM March 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

This a great update. It takes a big person to recognize something in themselves they wish to improve, work on it, and be successful at doing so. Kudos!

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Anonymous March 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I have this blog open on chrome and in teh tabs it said “update from the lazy cow.”
Ok that’s really really immature but it made me giggle.

Disappearing now……

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Sarah from Long Island March 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Your tab description made ME laugh! Finding at least a little humor in this heavy topic feels so wrong, but I needed it. So, thanks!

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The OP March 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for the helpful suggestions everyone. The book has really helped turn me around.

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Amber March 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Working SMART is far better for you and your career than working hard. I’ve found that I can take on more tasks and higher profile work than my peers because I manage my time well, I prioritize my tasks well and I know how to self-promote. By doing all that, I can do a 6-7 hour day every day and not feel guilty and no one complains.

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Elizabeth West March 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Yay OP!

Someone gave me a really good book to read–it’s called High-Performance Thinking: For Business, Sports and Life, by Gayle A. Davis, Ph.D. The sports part is sort of aimed at skaters, which I am one, so I was interested when another skater mentioned it had helped her. I borrowed it from her and found there are a lot of things that can help me elsewhere as well. So I returned it and got a copy off Amazon. It’s just a different way of thinking that I’ve never done before. And it’s not even hard, or something you have to be perfect to do. :)

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Po March 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I resonated with your letter so much! I think for me, it’s the fact that I’ve struggled and worked so hard for my entire life, and now that I’ve reached a certain level (multiple undergraduate/graduate degrees, many internships, a book deal, and an apprenticeship at several very well-known publications), I feel entitled to a certain title/job status that I have not gotten (still no full-time job that pays an adult wage or the ability to pay my student loans; looking for part-time serving jobs just to pay rent while I pull freelancing jobs together).

It’s become harder and harder to put everything into my assignments when it seems like nothing is getting better–even though this is counter-intuitive, and putting everything into my assignments might lead to full-time employment. I know that my sense of entitlement is wrong, but I can’t help but feel it. I know that I should just keep my head down and barrel through, but I’m just so beaten down because that’s all I’ve been doing for the last 10 years to no effect.

Anyway. Long story short, I feel for you and am taking your recommendation! Thanks!

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Grace December 27, 2013 at 2:29 am

@Po:
Check out Debtors Anonymous (they deal with debt, under earning, and the like). They can be found in most major cities
and also have online meetings and telephone meetings.

Take care.

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Emma March 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I’m another AAM reader who saw myself in this lazy coworker post! I also wonder if he had any early experiences in his job where he *was* trying to be productive and pitch new ideas, etc, only to be shot down time and again. I realize that this sort of experience in the beginning of a year-long-job I had contributed greatly to me essentially saying “eff it, i’ll do my day-to-day work on time, but it clearly isn’t worth it to go above and beyond.” Petulant? Maybe. I’ll have to check this book out.

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Lisa March 4, 2013 at 10:21 am

OMG, check out my response below… I was treated like this and it kills all productivity when I get to a point where I think my thoughts or opinions will get ridiculed / shot down.

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Lily March 3, 2013 at 4:24 am

Carol Dwight talks about how the wrong type of praise can encourage people to think that “only suckers ever worked hard”

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Lisa March 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

I over overthink; therefore I procrastinate…

I read some of the comments on Amazon for this book. It seems that people didn’t like it due to the audience for it being above-average slackers that are just bored, versus people that avoid / procrastinate work for other reasons like ADHD or personal issues. I thought I was the bored worker, cause when I work, I can excel but getting in that groove is so hard. I feel like I need to have 10 tabs open and 4 programs running to feel like i am working, but I tend to open email and not deal with it for hours cause I overthink my response. So most of my issues are with overthinking my responses after having a micromanager tear apart my work so much that it would delay my response cause I
wanted to make sure it wouldn’t torn apart when reviewed. Its a few years since this guy was my manager, but I still hold off on doing things because I don’t want anyone to disregard my opinion as stupid or pointless or worse just plain wrong according to the latest industry trend that I may not be aware of.

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