top of page

The science behind laziness and the right way to combat it

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

‘An entire day can slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do,’ is a famous quote by Bill Watterson, a testament to the fact that laziness is a thief of time. We’ve all encountered it, but do we actually know the science behind it? Here are the major root causes of laziness, and the simple techniques to combat it. 

1. Absence of Set Goals and Priorities

Somedays, the mere task of getting out of bed in the morning might seem Herculean. But that’s only because you might not have a list of goals that drive you, and power you with the motivation you’d need to get through the day. The feeling of confusion and hesitance throughout the day stems from the lack of knowing your purpose in life. 

Our Solution to Combat it:

It would help to fixate yourself with one large goal; this can be anything such as ‘being happy in life,’ or ‘getting into that Ivy League college,’ or even ‘getting that promotion at work.’ Whatever it is, once you’ve fixed your main goal, all you need to do now is draw out a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish in order to attain that dream goal. Discover your life’s purpose and develop a mission statement of your own, one that you stick to.  A minimal amount of consistent progress will really help reach your end destination. 

2. Poor Sleep Hygiene

A vast subsect of the population has an erratic sleeping pattern. Late-night binge-watching, partying, or even night shifts at work might be the causes. A study conducted by the University of British Columbia showed that 70% of the sleep-deprived students were more likely to choose sedentary lifestyles as opposed to active ones. Prolonged continuation of an unhealthy sleep cycle as such, will lead to zero motivation, sluggishness and minimal productivity. 

Our Solution to Combat it:

If you have an unhealthy sleep pattern, you can start to fix it by resetting your body to its biological clock. Start by spending your day time in natural light, and avoiding blue light from screens of mobile devices post 7 pm. This will ensure sound sleep throughout the night. A solid 8 hours of sleep is recommended by doctors for a productive day.

3. Unhealthy Eating Habits

Studies show slow metabolism causes tiredness and lethargy. This is related to a lack of drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day. A study conducted by the American Psychology Association found that after skipping meals due to stress, 24 percent of adults say they feel sluggish or lazy. The increased consumption of processed foods such as instant noodles, chips or high carb foods such as packaged biscuits, pizzas, and burgers are also linked with poor metabolism. 

Our Solution to Combat it:

Be mindful of the food that you intake on a daily basis. Fresh, home-cooked meals that are rich in greens and other vegetables and fruits can help you feel light and energetic. Make sure to take your meals at proper intervals. Health authorities recommend the consumption of 2 liters of water every day. This will leave you feeling hydrated, and will also speed up your metabolism. 

4. Perfectionism

A subtle symptom of laziness is perfectionism. Perfectionism is a mindset wherein a person would want to go forth with a task, only if they can picture the outcome as being perfect in every aspect. This, in turn, results in them holding on off on proceeding with the task until the very last minute. Specifically, between 1989 and 2016, statistics posted in Psychological Bulletin showed that the self-oriented perfectionism score increased by 10 percent, socially prescribed increased by 33 percent and other-oriented increased by 16 percent.

Our Solution to Combat it:

‘Perfect’ as a concept does not exist, and hence the quest to perfection must be eradicated. Hard, smart and consistent work from the get-go will often result in a job well done.  Rather than perfection, focus on gradual progress. Setting milestones and tracking progress is helpful.

5. Mental causes

Research conducted at the University of Oxford has found “causal evidence” that happy workers are 13% more productive. Your mental well-being directly translates to your productivity. Persons plagued by mental disorders or just a general air of gloom find it hard to concentrate on work and use their time effectively. 

Our Solution to Combat it:

When you feel as though you are stuck in a rut, or in a stagnant position in life, it always helps to seek professional help to get over this phase. There is no harm in reaching out for help from a psychologist or a trained counselor as they will always try to lead you on the right path. Coping mechanisms also include non-conventional forms of therapy such as art therapy, music therapy, etc. Maintaining a personal journal and penning down daily reflections will also help. 

6. Workspace and Environment

A well-known fact suggests that a clear workspace equals a clear mind. A cluttered desk filled with disorganized papers and files can lead to a dip in productivity and efficiency in the workspace. An unnecessarily packed environment can set a claustrophobic tone, reducing your ability to focus and concentrate. 

Our Solution to Combat it:

The aesthetics of your workspace directly correlate to the amount of time you spend doing efficient work.  An airy, well-lit workspace, with sufficient lighting, will help keep your mind calm and collected. Clear up your desk after every day’s work has been done, and stack files and papers in a neat manner. Studies report that placing plants on your desk also increases productivity. 

7. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal imbalances plague a vast majority of women, and studies find conclusive links between the two. During menstruation, menopause, pregnancy and postpartum, an excess or deficit production of estrogen and progesterone may lead to hormonal imbalances. These, in turn, might cause pains in the body, or even affect women mentally, thereby reducing their productivity either at home or in the workspace.

Our Solution to Combat it:

If you have been prescribed medicines to fight your hormonal imbalances, be sure to take them at the proper timings. Exercise every day to alleviate body pains, and get adequate amounts of sleep. It is completely okay to take a step back from work and relax if things are getting out of hand. 

In general, it helps to remember that laziness and productivity are both results of your overall well-being and lifestyle. In order to work as efficiently as possible, you must cultivate good habits from the start and practice them as daily rituals to structure your days. 

Join Sazia Queyam's Integrative Health and Wellness Coaching Program, and learn the art of self-health management. It's time to give your body the love and care it deserves. 


✆ : +91 9549444063

✉ :


  1. Boris Cheval, Eda Tipura, Nicolas Burra, Jaromil Frossard, Julien Chanal, Dan Orsholits, Rémi Radel, Matthieu P. Boisgontier. Avoiding sedentary behaviors requires more cortical resources than avoiding physical activity: An EEG study. Neuropsychologia, 2018; 119: 68 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.029

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Obesity Education Initiative. (1998). Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: The evidence report (NIH Publication No. 98-4083). 

  3.  Psychological Bulletin, Dolores Albarracín, Blair T. Johnson, 2017.

  4. 1. Brown JB, Thomas A. Types of ovarian activity in women and their significance: the continuum (a reinterpretation of early findings). Hum Reprod Update (2011) 17:141–58. 10.1093/humupd/dmq040


bottom of page