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People Break Down Examples Of The Laziest Person Doing The Most Difficult Job Best

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job.”

“Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

The idea is actually somewhat sound, although an efficient person might be a better choice.

The quote speaks to the concept of “work smarter, not harder.”

Choosing someone who will find the shortcuts to solve a difficult problem can be better than putting your most ambitious person on it. The most complicated way is often not the best way to complete something.

But just because a billionaire tech mogul said it and it sounds good on paper, doesn’t mean it works in practice.

So Redditors lauvnoodles and Slimer425 both asked variations of:

“There’s a saying about giving the hardest job to the laziest person because they’ll find the easiest way to do it—what is your best real-life example?”

Macros, Not Micros

“I knew a guy who had a low level data/reporting job. He had several daily/weekly work responsibilities, including a bunch of reports that needed quite a bit of tweaking from raw data to finished product. But like I said, low level.”

“We didn’t find out until way later, but he had set up macros for each of his major responsibilities where he could. Once set up, he’d just run the macros to do his work, but then he’d (smartly) hold off on delivering the reports until just a little before the deadlines.”

“He’d hit every assignment and was seen as reliable. He also would complain about the workload so people would leave him with that work. I doubt he did a full hour of work a day after he set up what he did.”

“Eventually he left the job for one with better pay. But damn did he work lazy.”

“Also, he was smart not to reveal until the end, because had he told them about it he would have gotten a pat on the back and would have been given a whole other workload, on top of maintaining those macros/etc…”

“Dude milked the job, not the other way around.” ~ daithisfw

Automate

“Any good IT guy will find a way to automate his job so he can sit around browsing [the internet].”

“I left my last Sys Admin Job for a better paying job and the next guy called me and asked how I was doing the work of 3 people. He was going through the daily playbook and was so far behind…”

“I asked him if he was going through the Manual playbook, or the Automated playbook, as I had left both on my desk. Evidently my former boss had taken the automated one to do the work in the interim and never told the new hire about it.” ~ Zooloph

“I remember I worked in a small IT department in college and the head admin had EVERYTHING automated. He’d spend the whole day playing games or watching YouTube but he still performed all of his duties in a timely manner.”

“One day we played a full game of Civilization V while monitoring the progress of a script that updated everyone in the office from Windows XP to Win 7. All of the work got done on time and correctly so we really weren’t doing anything ‘wrong’.” ~ Bearlodge

Know Your Equipment

“Was a temp.”

“Got hired for the day to print 30 packets with 100 pages each.”

“‘Why would it take a day?’ I asked.”

“‘Our printer doesn’t collate the pages so it will take you the day to sort the pages into the 30 packets,’ they said.”

“Right.”

“It was a standard office Xerox printer. It took me all of 30 seconds to find and click the ‘collate’ button. Clicked the ‘staple’ button while at it.”

“All got printed by itself into nice stapled packets and I got paid to browse internet for the day. They thought I was a genius for ‘fixing’ their printer and gave me glowing recommendations to the temp agency that led to more jobs.” ~ wilksonator

Math Is Your Friend

“At my last job, a truck suspension shop, we did inventory every December and it was someone’s job to count all the washers and screws of every size.”

“It was my first inventory and I casually mentioned that they should just weigh one screw or washer, then weigh them all and divide the weight to get the count. Everyone looked at me like I had given them the key to the universe.”

“Counting washers and screws went from a day or two, to just a few hours.” ~ codymreese

Automation Might Be Your Friend But Not Your Coworker’s

“I inherited a job where the last person spent half their time manually typing numbers into Excel. I turned a bunch of 5 hour jobs into 5 minute jobs and made the job really easy.”

“I was only in a 1 year assignment and spent a lot of it automating everything and got a promotion afterward so it all worked out.”

“Still though, using technology right can get rid of a lot of jobs. I work in corporate finance, and we can do the same stuff with a team of four that 20 people were doing 30 years ago.” ~ munchies777

“A college kid picked up an office job over one summer. He became friends with an older lady at the front desk who always needed help figuring out Excel.”

“He kept finding shortcuts for her, and eventually wrote scripts for her that took a load of work off her plate.”

“By the end of the summer he had made her job so easy that they decided they didn’t need her to do it anymore. They fired her.” ~ seancurry1

Outsourcing

“My brother gave my oldest nephew 10 dollars a week if he did all his chores without needing to be told or complaining.”

“One day he gets home early from work and sees the neighbor kid tossing a bag in the trash. He asks him what he is doing and the kid says he gets 5 bucks a week to take care of a few chores.”

“My nephew outsourced his chores.” ~ Downvotesdarksouls

“Now all he needs is to undercut his employee.”

“Scare him straight by telling him the kid down the block will do it for cheaper and this quarter the numbers are lower than expected so take the pay decrease or leave.” ~ AlDaBeast

Let The Machine Do The Work

“I plug clocks in at midnight so they’re already set.” ~ january21st

“Trip the main fuse in the house at midnight to do all the appliances too.” ~ niallw2101

Use The Shortcuts

“I worked ‘goods in’ for an aircraft manufacturer as a summer job at university. Parts would arrive, we’d open them and key in all the details into a terminal.”

“That bit was long winded.”

“I discovered the terminal keyboard had assignable shortcuts, and set up a bunch of them for all the boilerplate items so that keying in an item was about six keystrokes.”

“Saved myself and my workmate hours every day, which we would spend pranking each other, other warehouse staff and staff at other sites.” ~ john_C_random

Skip The Heavy Lifting

“Years ago as a student I got a job stocking shelves. Guys were carrying the heavy boxes, putting them on the floor and bending each time to pick up the items to put on the shelves.”

“I was maybe a light 100 pound (woman) and carrying the boxes was just killing me physically.”

“So one day I had an idea. I put the box on an old desk chair and rolled it around.”

“No more carrying and no more bending!

“Funny thing is that, instead of doing the same thing, most of the guys called me lazy and kept carrying the heavy boxes. Just to prove how strong they were.”

“Now they have special rolling carts to do the job because of all the injuries from lifting and bending.” ~ sonia72quebec

K-I-S-S Principle

“I began a job where 11-12 people each touched a small piece of one process. More time was spent doing the hand off through email between each of us than the actual work.”

“I suggested several steps it made more sense for me to handle completely instead of handing them off in an email. Soon others suggested the same for their pieces of the process and some people were identified as just in the process to ‘give them something to do’.”

“We now do the same process with only 1-3 people involved and it takes a fraction of the time. It went from over 20 busy work steps to about 5 efficient ones.”

“I’m not sure whoever set it up could have made it any less efficient. Keep It Simple, Silly!” ~ Reddit

So Why Are Things Inefficient?

“I never understood why a boss would want you to do a job that you can do in 1 hour, stretch it to 8 hours and let you do that. If the attitude of the corporate world wasn’t this bad, many things could be so much easier in life.” ~ Reddit

“Oh it’s easy. It’s because they don’t know how to measure productivity. They don’t understand what you do, nor how long ‘things’ take.”

“So they rely instead on the assumption that looking like you’re working is basically the same as ‘being productive’.” ~ sobrique

So it seems work smarter, not harder is pretty sound advice that a lot of workplaces are completely ignoring.

What about where you work?

Written by Winn Sioux Christnot-Peters

Winn Sioux Christnot-Peters is a writer/web designer and aspiring librarian based in Northern Maine. When not writing or in class, they devote much of their time to multiple non-profit organizations, largely focusing on LGBTQ+ rights and animal welfare. During rare moments of free time Winona enjoys video and tabletop games, as well as various nerdy fiber crafts such as crocheting (mainly amigurumi Pokémon, cat toys, and blankets) and counted cross stitch.