9 signs you’re a lazy person, according to psychology

“Slacker”, “loafer”, “lazybones”…

Have you ever been called any of these names?

And do people tell you that you’re not ambitious enough, or self-disciplined enough, or responsible enough?

No wonder you THINK you’re lazy. 

But are you really? And I mean really, really?

Well, let’s call on psychology to find out.

In this article, I’ll give you ONE legit sign that you’re indeed lazy. 

The rest are the usual behaviors that make people think you’re “lazy” and what psychology has to say about them.

1) You just don’t want to do your tasks—period

You have your tasks, and you want to do something about them…but you just CAN’T.

That, my friend, is procrastination. There are many reasons why it happens— from ADHD paralysis to burnout. 

But it’s NOT laziness, even if people do call you “lazy” for it.

So what IS laziness?

According to psychology, you’re only ever lazy if you simply don’t have any intentions of finishing a task.

In other words, you CAN but you DON’T WANT TO.

There are no mental chains or fatigue keeping you from doing something that you MUST do, and yet you somehow, just don’t want to do it.


Because you don’t like to put in any effort. Period.

2) You don’t have a sense of purpose

Sometimes people call us “lazy” simply because we’re not motivated to do something.

You wouldn’t be motivated to study hard if your parents forced you to attend sewing classes against your wishes, for example.

And many experts agree that having a feeling of meaning and purpose can be a strong motivator for work.

I myself get “lazy” when it comes to things I find meaningless or pointless. But on the other hand, I work extra hard on things I find meaningful.

And that might be the case here. 

People might call you “lazy” for not putting in effort in life, but it might just be a sign that you’re on the wrong track.

Find your purpose in life, and you might just find yourself motivated to actually work.

But then what if you’re also lazy in other areas of your life, say—with household chores? 

I’ll talk about it in my next point.

3) You’re depressive

According to psychology, laziness is a symptom of depression.

Psychologist Ernesto N. Lira de la Rosa said that “there are many symptoms of depression that can mirror what we have come to believe is laziness.”

And in fact, 90% of the people we call “lazy” are just horrifically depressed.

Effort isn’t easy! And it becomes infinitely harder when you really just have no real will to live. 

When you’re so depressed it takes every ounce of energy you’ve got to trudge on from one day to the next, you can’t be productive.

Depressed people are known to stop caring for themselves. Their rooms become a disorganized mess, and their clothes and dishes just pile up unwashed.

So if you’re feeling depressed—and especially if you’ve been diagnosed with depression—then don’t be too harsh on yourself if you feel like you’re being “lazy.” 

What you need is professional help, not more self-flagellation.

4) You’re a perfectionist

I know a lot of geniuses who just can’t finish anything they start. 

And when I ask them why, they say things like “Bah, it’s so hard” or “I can’t seem to get it right.”

It doesn’t matter that, in my eyes, their work was already exceptional. It’s simply too flawed for them.

Psychologists believe that procrastination is really perfectionism.

Our need to make things great (and not just “good enough”) can lead to perfection paralysis, which most people just see as plan laziness.

Do you have fear of failure?

Do you want to be the best and the greatest?

Are you worried people would judge you for doing bad work?

Then chances are you’re “lazy”, and not actually lazy.

5) You find it hard to focus

Are you easily distracted? 

Do you often zone out? 

Do you find it hard to stick to one task? 

Do you have difficulties maintaining a schedule even if you want to?

Then you probably have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

This possibility is even more likely if you also identify with how I described depression and perfectionism earlier.

I have a sister who struggles with this and everyone calls her lazy when she’s not.

The thing is that when you have ADHD, things that other people can do effortlessly takes a lot of effort.

But this is no excuse, but an explanation.

You still have to work on it though if you want to be more productive. Getting officially diagnosed and medicated is a good start.

6) You spend too much time making decisions

It’s simple for most people to decide whether to go left or right, or to eat pasta or sushi. 

But even simple choices like these stress you out, and people just don’t get it when you tell them about how hard it is for you.

You overthink, in other words. 

And it gets even worse with bigger decisions like what to name your upcoming business or how you’re going to open your thesis paper.

You probably suffer from what psychologists call analysis paralysis. It’s basically overthinking your decisions. 

It becomes a hindrance to your productivity because it stops you from making the next steps.

Perhaps a lot of your tasks need decision-making. And if making decisions overwhelm you, then you’re likely seen as “lazy” by everyone around you.

7) You detest the 9-5

You hate how it leaves you with too little time to enjoy life.

You hate how it forces you to go out and work when you don’t have the energy for it.

You hate how your bosses will even force you to take calls outside of working hours.

And because of all of these, people like to call you lazy—uncooperative, even. It doesn’t matter even if you’re the most productive person at work.

While science says that the most productive time is 1:30pm, this doesn’t apply to everyone.

Our society expects people to just work for eight hours straight after 2 or so hours of daily commute.

But there are people who work better when allowed to rest all day and then finish their tasks in a 2 hour-long burst of activity.

I’m one of those people, and I’m lucky that I work freelance. I get to choose my schedule and work hours, thankfully.

I used to struggle back when I worked in an office, and I used to call myself “lazy” all the time. 

I wouldn’t have been harsh to myself if I knew then what I know now.

8) You ‘re bad at ‘task switching’

Task switching is the ability to switch attention from one thing to another. 

And if you happen to be neurodivergent, you’re bound to struggle with this more than the average John and Joe.

I used to be a teacher, and I noticed that the ones people called “lazy” were those who find it hard to switch between tasks. Doubly so for those who also struggle with perfectionism.

Their minds would remain fixed on perfecting one task that they don’t account for a second, or a third.

When seen from the outside, it seems like they’re simply “not respecting schedule” or “being lackadaisical”, but really…they just can’t easily let go of one to do another.

Can you relate?

Then, it’s probably why you’re “lazy”. 

You have to practice how to task-switch so you can improve your productivity.

9) You’re forgetful

People might call you “lazy” or “careless” because how dare you forget to do this-and-that.

But don’t beat yourself up if you happen to be especially forgetful. 

It’s a lot more normal than you think!

In fact, studies show that forgetfulness may actually be a sign of brain efficiency. So you see? Your brain is in fact working hard!

They’re simply calling you lazy because you’re not as productive as everyone else.

But the thing is that the problem isn’t that you’re lazy. It’s not like forgetfulness is something people can just “get over” after all.

What you need is someone to check up on you and remind you, and probably help you plan around your tendency to forget important information.

What to do

  • Understand your problems. Take note which of these 9 signs you show and write them down.
  • Learn the habits of successful people. Maybe you can get inspiration from some of them!
  • Get healthy.
  • Figure out your best time to work
  • If there are direct solutions to your problems (like therapy for depression and medication for ADHD), pursue them. But don’t expect these solutions to magically fix you up.
  • Try to find your life purpose.
  • Study the science of productivity.
  • Rest. Sometimes what you need isn’t more pressure, but more rest. This is especially true if your “laziness” is because of stress and burnout.

Final thoughts

There’s more to “laziness” than meets the eye.

As far as most people are concerned, people are “lazy” if they’re not as productive as the average person. But the problem is that sometimes, people just CAN’T.

Many “lazy” people are actually perfectly willing to work hard if only their body and mind allow them to.

The society we live in, sadly, is not kind to such people. 

Luckily, there ARE options to be more productive. There’s therapy and medication and plenty of productivity techniques.

But while working on your productivity, don’t forget to be extra kind to yourself.

You’re not as lazy as you think.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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