Yes, you can be lazy and productive! Source

How to be lazy AND productive in 2021

From a college student-entrepreneur, the most important tip is #2: Do nothing at all

Jack Chong
5 min readDec 23, 2020


I am an university student. Honestly, with COVID measures in place, the “college experience” is absolutely terrible.

No socials. No events. Teachings are online.

Worse, with lockdown measures in place, my productivity has dropped significantly.

It’s going to be a while until everyone gets their vaccine….

Fortunately, lockdown is also the best time to cut off distractions and reflect. And I’ve realized that the conventional understanding of “productivity” is way too demanding.

I’ve always had problems with “productivity”:

  • I come from a competitive sportsman background. I am harsh to myself even though sometimes I shouldn’t.
  • I study and live abroad for several years. Being independent early also means that I become more self-aware.
  • I work in the startup environment (ed-tech, incubator, bio-tech CRO). If you can’t give in your 200% like everyone else, you are not “trying hard”.

There has to be a way to slow down, I said to myself.

And so I’ve written this in order to hold myself accountable. COVID has given us a perfect chance to re-think and re-practice productivity.

Before we start, we need to clarify what productivity really is. Laziness and productivity are not diametrically opposed!

What really is productivity?

1. Productivity is not about how productive you look

People who have the least fun aren’t the most productive.

They look productive.

We always have friends who spend their lives in the library to look like they’re working hard.

From The Oxford Bodleian Library

We always see office workers stay late every evening even though they know they are getting less and less done as the night gets late.

These people, like I once did, confuse being productive with looking productive.

This culture is even worse in the corporate career paths. The more you work, the more trophies you manage to grab.

Looking productive does not mean it’s no fun. Work/life balance is a false dichotomy. If work is boring, make it fun! Or turn what you enjoy into your work.

At the end of the day, it’s the results that matter. Not how hard you appear to be working.

2. Productivity is social

We are social animals. We yearn for approval. We strive under interactions.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

With social distancing orders in place, we have been less productive than before. We have worked in silos.

Zoom calls can’t replace the human element of face-to-face interactions.

We make snappier decisions when we can consult our colleagues face-to-face. We become motivated when we can work together with our friends and talk them through our thoughts.

3. Productivity is fun

Your marginal productivity drops as you spend more time working without breaks.

Especially in the university campus environment. The beginning of the academic year co-incides with internship/graduate roles recruitment season. American college students often comment on “imposter syndrome”. Stanford calls it the “duck syndrome”.

Hey you look so calm! <shaking beneath the water>

Due to COVID, this year’s in-person recruitment events are cancelled. The only opportunity to “network” is gone.

We get even more anxious. We worry about things outside of our locus of control.

“Is my CV going to get screened?”

“Am I going through to the final assessment centre round?”

“Am I going to get an offer if they are making cuts?”


Don’t worry about things you can’t control.

Take a break and have fun.

3 tips to be lazy and productive

1. Sleep

Aim for a deep, long and regular sleep schedule.

How do you know if you have a good night sleep?

You know when you wake up. Do you wake up naturally, or with an alarm? Do you still feel sleepy after waking up, or do you feel energetic and clear-headed?

A morning discipline puts you into the right frame of mind. When I was at school as boarder, I woke up feeling purposeful and energetic. I followed a clear routine: a morning shower, shave, brush teeth, hair-styling, and lastly, wearing the school uniform, which is my own business-styled suit. Sometimes, I would have to wake up at 6am to attend early swimming trainings.

What a beautiful day!

2. Do nothing at all

Value solitude over companionship.

Value tranquility over noise.

I was the type of kid who could have fun even without toys. The world was my oyster.

When I was alone, I could look into the wall, stare at its details and imagine stories behind. The wallpaper was like a cave painting to me.

Solitude for me is the burst of creativity. My imagination can go truly wild without considering what others think of me.

Solitude is also time for introspection. Reflect upon the past month, week, and day you have had.

COVID has given us the perfect excuse to withdraw from the attention economy and unnecessary social gatherings. Spend your spare time of the day going on long walks.

From Unsplash

Immerse yourself in the nature. Isn’t it nice to have a getaway from human troubles?

3. Don’t try to do everything

Productivity doesn’t mean doing the most.

Productivity is getting the most done from what you have put in.

So pick what you do each day wisely. Break-down your work into chunks.

Do you have an essay due? Break it down into research, note-taking and writing stage.

Do you have a business pitch to prepare? Start from first principles, refer from previous pitches, and talk to your colleagues.

Productivity isn’t all work either. Sprinkle your day with a morning run. Perhaps an afternoon workout.

Make a cup of your favourite coffee. Sit down on the couch. Chat with your significant ones.

From Unsplash

My favourite productivity boost tip: do absolutely nothing and just appreciate their presence.

Some of the tips given here is similar to living a life not giving a fuck.

Or simply: stay hungry, stay foolish, stay happy.



Jack Chong

I review products, strategy and startups. Twitter: @jackchong_jc