Even Lazy People Can Succeed In The Right Environment

Aswin John
4 min readDec 17, 2020

This article was originally published in the LearnThenApply newsletter.

The Challenge

It seems like whenever I’m supposed to….


I was trying to type “It seems like whenever I’m supposed to do something, I end up watching YouTube or checking my email instead.”

But midway through that sentence… I went to YouTube and went down a 30-minute distraction hole. 🤦‍♂️


📘 Indistractable by Nir Eyal

We’ve used the lessons from Indistractable to discover why we get distracted and how to make time for our priorities.

Now we’re going to find out how to tweak our environments to remove distractions and make our desired actions more likely.

(BTW, a lot of these lessons are also covered in Atomic Habits by James Clear.)


“Is this trigger serving me, or am I serving it?”

Triggers (or cues) need to occur for a behavior to take place.

For example, I’ve set an alarm every day at Noon for me to do a quick prayer. (Although I dismiss that alarm and continue with my day more often than I’d like to 😣.)

I also happen to pause my work and check my phone every time I hear it vibrate.

As you can see, triggers can be helpful AND harmful.

So put on your construction helmet 👷‍♀️. We’re going to build experiments in order to construct ideal environments.

How to do more of what you want to do:

Make the desired action easier.


  • To actually start wearing a mouthguard to bed every night (apparently I’m a grinder), I moved the guard from my bathroom to my bedstand.
  • To practice the piano more, I moved the keyboard from the living room to my bedroom.
  • To pray more regularly, I’ve set up alarms and Bixby Routines to launch the LRD app at the times I’ve allotted for prayer.

Pre-commit (or scare yourself) with disincentives and accountability partners.


  • To make sure I write this newsletter every week, I encourage people to venmo request me if they don’t receive it. (This was probably the #1 reason I became more consistent in publishing these.)
  • To practice Malayalam (my native language) more, I started studying it with my gf.

Take pride in it or make it part of your identity.


  • James Clear had a story about a guy who habitually bit his nails. Then one day he got a manicure. The mani gave him pride in his nails, so he didn’t want to bite and make them look bad anymore.
  • At the start of quarantine, I was regularly working while sitting in my bed (terrible for my back and neck). I invested in my desk setup (better chair, monitor, and lighting… + a blanket!) and now I love working there.

How to do less of what you don’t want to do:

Make it inconvenient to do undesirable activities.

  • I use the Freedom app on my computer and Focus Mode on my phone to block out social media and YouTube when I want to focus. The issue with this thus far has been making sure I turn it on before I get distracted. Going forward I’ll set it to automatically start between 8:00–10:30 PM — the time I’ve allocated to side hustles.
  • I brush my teeth a few hours before I go to sleep so I’m not tempted to eat late-night snacks. I spent 27 years brushing my teeth once a day so I’m definitely not doing it more than twice…

Let’s close this out with a little story about my laundry… 👖

I throw my clothes on the bed after they’re done drying. That way I have to put the laundry away before I go to sleep instead of letting it sitting in the basket for days.

Well, in college I was so averse to folding my laundry that I would sleep on the floor instead of putting my clothes away.

Yes, this is a true story.

So how did I eventually solve this issue?

I started hanging up my clothes.

After I saw that my cousin had most of her clothes hung up, I decided to buy some hangers.

Turns out that the process of folding clothes, and stacking them wherever it needed to go, was what I dreaded most.

Now I put my clothes away in no time 😀.

(It also helps when minimize your wardrobe and don’t have 1000 free t-shirts… college 😒.)

If you feel like I’m just being lazy, that’s good!

Be lazy!!

Set up your environments to where the laziest person in the world would perform all the desired actions.



Aswin John

A young professional taking action on the content he reads and documenting it on learnthroughaction.com (+ tweeting bad jokes at twitter.com/learnthroughaction)