Just Press Play: How Audiobooks Cured My Laziness (…Mostly)

When I was a teenager, I used to say that I wasn’t lazy, I was just efficient with my energy. I still agree with that to some extent: I’m not going to put effort into something that I’m not getting anything out of, and some people read that as laziness. That’s fine. It’s not worth the energy to worry about. I am a pretty sedentary creature, and I’m okay with that. But… I have to admit that sometimes my laziness actually makes me very inefficient with my energy.

The problem is, I find it very difficult to start things. Once I get started, it’s pretty easy to continue. (For instance, getting out of bed in the morning is easy. The first step is turning off my alarm, and I’ve done that before I realize what I’m doing. By then I’m already rolling out of bed, and then I might as well get dressed.) I find myself procrastinating the most ridiculous things: making a sandwich when my stomach is growling, having a shower, reading the book I’m excited about, or walking the dogs around the block. I can mindlessly scroll through tumblr for 20 minutes, procrastinating taking a 10 minute shower. (I know a lot of people with executive dysfunction deal with this on a larger scale that I do.)

Then, suddenly, I found a solution. I always listen to an audiobook (or podcast) when I’m walking to and from work by myself. It’s an hour and 15 minutes each way, so it would be pretty unbearable without a narrative to distract me. It wasn’t a stretch to start listening to audiobooks on short dog walks as well. And, of course, when doing the dishes or anything else that’s mindless. This makes chores more appealing, but it didn’t immediately cure my laziness in starting tasks.

What actually stopped me from procrastinating was beginning to listen to the audiobook before I started the chore. If I am trying to convince myself to do dishes, I just reach over to my phone and press play on my audiobook. At that point, I’ve already started. I haven’t gotten off the couch, but my brain has already accepted that we are now in Dish Washing Mode. There’s nothing to do but put my laptop away, walk over to the kitchen and start.

This is such a tiny, tiny thing that I know most people won’t understand what a revelation it was for me. Not only are chores more enjoyable, but they don’t have a massive roadblock ahead of them any more. I’ve spent way too long angry at myself that I can’t seem to wrench myself away from the Mindless Internet Consumption Mode to Productive Adult Human Mode. I’ll be clicking the same bookmarks over and over in a loop, not enjoying myself, wishing I would just get up and do the things that would make me feel better.

I should have known that books would be the solution–they always are. Unfortunately, I still have to jump that hurdle for things that I can’t listen to audiobook while doing (like writing an article, for instance). I actually just bought a shower speaker so that I can use this life hack on showering as well. I was sick of procrastinating starting a productive day because the first step was a shower and I couldn’t bring my phone with me.

I’m still pretty efficient with my personal energy, but audiobooks (and podcasts) have done a lot to help me ditch the excess laziness. Sometimes I’ll even get wrapped up enough in the story to do some extra cleaning or a longer dog walk! The magic of a good story.

I’d love to hear if you’ve used audiobooks to motivate yourself! What tasks do you pair them with?