Are You Lazy?

In 2010, I read a book called Cognitive Surplus.  The author, Clay Shirky (NYU), posited that modern technology has offered us an incredible luxury: free time.

115779F1-2AA1-47B0-8F62-C59FE8622B5AUnfortunately, we spent that luxurious time watching Gilligans Island.  Now we spend our time watching funny cat videos on Youtube, arguing politics on Facebook, and sending idiotic pictures of ourselves through Snapchat.


How many hours have humans spent playing World of Warcraft?  As of six years ago, the combined number was six million. Not hours, but six million YEARS.  And many more hours have been played since then (leave a comment below if you want the reference).  To answer the title question, most modern humans are lazy.

Imagine what could be accomplished if we directed our free time to solving some of the world’s big problems.  What if we all did it at the same time, and we collaborated?

What do you do with your free time?  Spending 10,000 practicing a skill?   The 10,000 hour rule is based on Malcolm Gladwell’s misunderstanding of Anders Ericcson’s research.  It isn’t true (although Gladwell made a fortune by saying it).  A meta-analysis (analysis of all the research on a subject) indicates that practice only accounts for a small percentage of excellent performance.  But it is beneficial.

Three suggestions:

  1. Invest your time on activities that make your assets more valuable.  Maximize your success: do things that best leverage your time.  Turn off video games.  Spend time building your brain instead of adding magic points to your fantasy elf account.
  2. Plan reading.  Decades ago, I began carrying content on my phone to read while waiting for my family.  (Before smart phones, I carried a PDA).
    • I have read thousands of pages of developmental material while waiting for children to find their shoes.  I completed scientific research for a paper while watching my son play baseball.  I then published the article.
    • I don’t recommend multitasking, but watching baseball means watching 5 minutes of action and 95 minutes of kids sitting or standing.
    • I use Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive.  I download articles to my iPad, read during the game or while waiting for my wife, and take notes (on what I read) in Evernote.
  3. You can achieve a lot just from turning off internet or TV, by using time that would be wasted.
    • Add an app called Forest to your device.  Turn it on while you are studying.  Each time you access something irrelevant, one of the trees in your forest dies.
  4. Follow your personal rhythms.  We all have different learning styles.  If you have ADHD, you should break a topic into many smaller topics.

Don’t fight yourself.  I fought myself for many years.  I thought willpower could compensate for learning disabilities.  It was exhausting.

Now I know how to do it.  I no longer treat myself as a rival or enemy.  I follow the rhythm I need for studying.

On a typical day, . . .

How many minutes spent playing games on your phone? ______

How many minutes spent monitoring social media? ______

Now, stop those activities for one week (7 days).  Spend those minutes:

  • Reading uplifting articles
  • Planning your time
  • Calling old friends and family members
  • Mastering one skill
    • Not all skills are equal in value.  I refer back to the three we will first attack in this forum:
      • Creativity
      • Intercultural Communication
      • Virtual Team Leadership
    • These are three that have been identified as crucial for success.  All three of them are skills YOU can develop.
    • I am currently writing books on all three subjects.  We will, however, discuss them all at length in this forum.


Be fierce.  Be kind.  Be knowledge-hungry.

Do you know anyone who might be interested in this content?  Please share a link.

:: Train yourself to be more successful ::

Published by Brock Stout, PhD

Brock has helped many people to be extremely successful. He has lived in various countries and has enjoyed several careers, but is now a writer and a career coach. He sustained mild lead poisoning as a child, resulting in neurological damage. The result was a life of learning disabilities, always struggling to keep up. But he completed two degrees from competitive universities, then advised Wall Street executives in Asia for 15 years. He later earned a PhD and worked as a university professor for six years. He has started three profitable companies in between. So he particularly wants to help those with special learning challenges. Because so many of us now have these special challenges, they are no longer special. But they are challenges. He wants you to TEACH YOURSELF how to be successful.

3 thoughts on “Are You Lazy?

  1. All I can say is I need to do better, but some day all my game time will add up to something….probably Alzheimer’s.


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