The Joy Of Doing Just Enough: The Secret Art Of Being Lazy And Getting Away With It, by Jennifer McCartney
Secretly, or perhaps not so secretly now at least, I consider myself a lazy person. Like many people, I justify doing just enough in various aspects of life because of being busy or not having very much time to accomplish what I set out to do, or because I feel I do not have a great deal of energy and like to be efficient in how I seek to be productive. Like most people, I prefer games to work, enjoy play and not taking everything seriously, and trying to calm and relax my naturally anxious and worried mind. I do not consider myself alone in these things, but instead I tend to find that they are very common, perhaps even almost universal. As much as other people may think me a driven and intensely productive person, I like to put the breaks on my mind from time to time in the hope that I can sustain a better life by worrying and stressing less. The author clearly thinks this is a good thing and seeks to encourage others to view life less seriously and stress out far less often about it.
This short book of about 150 pages is, as is common from the author’s work, a bit off color and highly entertaining. The author drops the f-bomb a few times here to be hip, for example, and makes drawings of mimosas and other boobs as well as toilets to add to the humor of the material. In general, this book is about satisficiency, the art of doing just enough, and the author has chapters about doing just enough at home (1), work (2), relationships (3), socializing (4), and regarding art and culture (5). The author seeks a middle ground between being slovenly and being too manic, and if one may not always agree with what the author has to say there are still a lot of enjoying insights here in the quizzes and lists and comments that the author makes. The author continues here comment about the problematic nature of cleanliness in terms of the role of overcleaning in increasing allergies by killing healthy bacteria, as well as the use of harsh cleaning supplies that can be unhealthy to people, something that is worth paying attention to. The author also has numbered lists that are somewhat incomplete, as if she is trying to live up to her call of doing just enough as a writer of a book, modeling her worldview in the course of creating a thoughtful work.
And this book is a thoughtful work, to be sure. For all of its crudeness of expression, the author appears to be trying to shock the reader as well as lull one’s defenses to giving advise without seeming too preachy or too much like a self-help book. Indeed, this book’s main point, and something that is consistent throughout her work in general, is to give encouragement to the natural human tendency to want to do as well as possible with as little effort as possible, and to rest and save one’s strength rather than fret and worry and be anxious about everything all the time as seems to be the common push of so much of contemporary society. In general, this desire to calm restlessness by pointing to the need for self-preservation is a good thing, and is certainly a useful counterweight to the constant call to do more and better that one often reads and hears from books and television. Avoiding envy by being efficient and creatively lazy, getting things done without having to work too hard to do it, and trying to enjoy what life provides rather than fretting all the time is advice that is worthwhile to give, and just as worthwhile to take.