The Ranks of Lazy

I have been reflecting this past week on how much I meant to do during the summer that did not get done. The beginning of the summer was a flurry of activity as my deadline-disciplined mind rushed to start and complete sewing

No! Not the brush!

projects, stories, backpacking preparations, and novels. However, as time wore on  and I remembered that I had meant to study organic chemistry before the school year started, procrastination set in, and with it, the Ranks of Lazy.

The Ranks of Lazy are a well-known concept, if not by name. For example, the highest Rank of Lazy is surfing the Internet, right up there with eating. If I am trying to put something off, I might say, “Oh, I need to check my emails, and see if ____ has gotten back to me on Facebook,” or I might say, “I’ll have lunch before starting on that problem set,” secretly hoping that by the time I finish emails or lunch, I will have forgotten all about the problem set. If I have not, and actually get off the computer, I may invent a whole new excuse. Finally, if I both eat and surf the Internet, productivity falls to new depths.

The next rank of lazy is Internet videos. These take more effort, because they force one to focus on one thing for five minutes or more, especially if Hulu is acting up and will not stream properly. However, YouTube offers a constant stream of videos of indifferent quality.

A lower Rank of Lazy is the novel. Because it forces one to actually imagine the action and puzzle out difficult passages, all while focusing on one thing, novels’ readership has fallen into a decline. (in my humble opinion) Depending on the person and on the difficulty of the novel, writing for fun may come before or after the novel. Writing is especially likely to be preferred to reading if, like me, one likes airing their opinion or if one is writing on the Internet. I love the Internet!

English homework and assigned liberal arts reading rank next, at least for me. I like writing essays, not because I find organizing my ideas easy, but because I like expounding on my views. I also find it easier to sink into a state of concentration when I write. This applies unless it is time to start writing the essay or editing it. I dread beginnings and endings above all else, but I love the middle.

Washing the dishes, cooking, and clearing the cockroaches out from under the stove and the insides of the cabinets inspire even greater laziness. The work is not hard, I just instinctively shy away from these things. They require concentration–and dirty hands.

Next comes math and science homework. I know, I know, I am a science major; it is not supposed to be like this, but it is. It takes so much energy to focus, and I categorize the Ranks of Lazy by my difficulty in focusing on particular subjects. The strange thing is that the more focus a task requires, the more rewarding I typically find it. There are exceptions, of course. If the reward for focus rule held true, taking messages, navigating bureaucracies, showering, vacuuming, and brushing my teeth would be the most rewarding tasks of my life. I dislike brushing my teeth above doing organic chemistry homework. But somehow I stick with it–organic I mean, not the teeth, but I brush them anyway, ‘k, Mom? One does not learn amazingly cool things about quantum mechanics from toothpaste! One does not typically learn these things from organic chemistry either, but at least organic is a step in the right direction.


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