As Bill Gates has said, “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” In essence, you can usually trust that a (reasonably intelligent) lazy person will work smarter, not harder. These lackadaisical loungers will do anything to make their job easier, and in their dull determination, ingenuity and inspiration strike. These are the apathetic with acumen, the unindustrious yet understanding. Kick back and relax, as we idly scroll through these stories from lazy people who made genius moves.
1. A Weight Off Their Shoulders
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.
2. Time Saver
There was an overworked lady who worked at my company who didn’t know you could hit the shift key to copy multiple lines of excel at once. She saw me do it once and said:
Lady: “Wait, how did you do that!”
Me: “Do what?”
Lady: “Copy multiple lines at once!”
Me: “You just click the first line, hit shift, then click the last line, why? How have you been doing it?”
Lady: Looks at me in disbelief. “I’ve been copying it line by line, it takes me hours to do it every week.” I took the next few hours to show her a bunch of features in excel and computers in general. I think I saved her 20 hours per week that day.
3. Printer Professional
I worked a summer at a mortgage company as an assistant to the underwriters. My only job was printing documents and then hole-punching them to put in folders. They had a super fancy xerox printer that basically did my entire job for me, but the underwriters at this company didn’t know how to click through printer settings to make the machine hole-punch as it was being printed.
I showed them how to do it, and they resisted it super hard (like they didn’t trust it). So, I got to keep my job, but what was supposed to take me all day literally took me about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning. So, they started assigning me real tasks, and even offered to keep me on to eventually become an underwriter, too.
Because I was “so sharp” (i.e. I knew how to use the very expensive printer they already had). I was just about to start grad school, so I had to politely decline…but I’m pretty sure they didn’t hire someone to replace me when I left.
4. Rock the Boat
This is maybe not the most impressive story here, but I thought it was a great side-step of effort nonetheless: A co-worker of mine had to get rid of a smaller junk fiberglass boat with no trailer. Our other co-workers are all telling him how much time and money he’s going to need to spend to get rid of it, and he’s just saying “Oh, is that so?” They had no idea what he had in store.
He took off one day and sat down on his lawn with a cooler of beer. That day was garbage day. Inevitably, the trash guys roll up. He hands each of them a cold beer, and says “Hey boys, got $50 for each of you if you help me out really quick.” They fed the entire 12-foot boat into the packer, crushing two feet at a time.
5. The Magic Button
I have an air fryer. It’s a pretty handy kitchen tool. The food goes in a basket that is attached to what’s basically a metal bowl. So, the grease and crumbs and whatever fall out of the basket and into the bowl. My only real complaint was that it was hard to get the food out without a mess. You try and dump the basket onto a plate and the oil in the bowl still kind of runs out in a puddle.
You can keep it away from the food if you’re paying attention and like wipe it up but it’s an annoyance. Then one day I mentioned it to my wife while making some fries. She just looked at me and said, “Why don’t you take them apart?” and took the handle and pressed the button to separate the basket and bowl, dumped the fries out mess-free, and reconnected it back to the bowl.
Now you might be thinking I’m an idiot for not knowing about that button. It’s actually WORSE. I knew that the button was there, I just used it to separate the pieces for cleaning and it somehow never occurred to me to take them apart during use—despite the fact it’s just one simple button that can be used with one hand.
6. Two in One
I got a laptop for a job managing a cafe. It worked fine, but it was inconvenient to use behind the counter and in the kitchen. After watching me struggle to use it standing up, the owner took it from me, rotated the screen and flipped it closed. It was a combo laptop/tablet and I had no idea. “How long have you had this thing?” Two months.
7. Work Smarter Not Harder
My boss hated Excel to the point where he didn’t want us using formulas because “you can’t trust them to be right” so we needed to “do all the calculations by hand or on a calculator.” He would give me a spreadsheet once or twice a week that required, let’s say, 45 seconds to do, but maybe seven hours by hand, and he told me to “go to Starbucks or something and crank it out.”
He thought that since I pasted as values and he couldn’t see the formulas that I did it by hand, when really, I just did it in 45 seconds, sent an email on delay for seven hours, and studied for the next semester. Dude was the poster boy for failing upwards in your career. The first day of my internship he told me with a straight face he was a “work harder not smarter kind of guy.” The best part was that he once gave me a 50-page printout of Excel pages and asked me if I could type it up because they lost the digital copy. He told me it was probably going to be a week of work.
Luckily, the pages were printed really well so I just used five different PDF to Word converters. Then because each page had the columns averaged and summed up at the bottom, it was super easy to check to make sure that the PDF to Word converter worked properly. After that I just ran a program to compare the five different PDF to Word converters, and they all came out identical so I did a very quick scan, then after about an hour, I concluded a week of work.
I turned it in a day earlier than my boss was expecting and acted exasperated when I turned it in. He was like, “Man I’m sorry you had to go through that, thank you for getting that done so quickly.” Dude was aggravating.
8. A Drink for the Lazy
The guy who wanted a drink but didn’t want to get up/go downstairs…he logged into his router and blocked access to his mom’s laptop, knowing she would come to his room and ask what was going on. While he “fixed it” (simply reset the MAC filtering), he asked if she could get him a drink. He removed the filter while she got the drink and it was “fixed” by the time she came back.
When I think about it, that’s maybe the smartest thing I’ve ever heard of.
9. The Flyer Fix
When I used to hand out flyers, I would sit in the front seat of the local bus for two or three hours and give anyone who entered a flyer, since most people were going home, and they would order a pizza from the flyer I gave them. I would make $45-$55 each time.
10. The Scan Scandal
I worked as a cashier during the holiday season back when I was 16-years-old. The supermarket was selling drinks by the boxes and at that time, and we only had barcode scanners that were at the front of the computer. No handheld scanners existed. I was lazy and didn’t want to carry boxes up to the scanner. So, I politely asked my customers if I could carve out the barcode from their box to scan and keep.
Some agreed and some didn’t want to, but eventually, I managed to amass all the barcodes needed. I labeled them and kept them in a file for easy reference. Apparently, some other cashier got green eyed at my “smart” move and complained to the chief cashier who promptly lectured me on how it’s dangerous for me to scan such barcodes as I might scan the wrong things.
She told me to throw it all away and carry the boxes like I was meant to. I mean, I was young so I could physically do it, but the other cashiers were older. Some were elderly and needed the customers themselves to help carry the boxes to the scanner. But whatever, I guess jealousy trumps common sense.
11. Beer Brilliance
I used to deliver beer. I did not like delivering beer. I may have ended up with 30 stops in a day, including deliveries that the customer would call into our office for. I used to bring extra beer and blank invoices with me on the truck, to prevent having to drive back to my warehouse to deliver one keg to a place that I was currently across the street from.
Seven years later, the driver of that route is still doing that.
12. The Yak Herder
Herding yak with a drone takes the cake for me. They run from it, and oddly fear it. Which is surprising considering they have literally zero aerial predators. We only did it a few times because it really makes them uneasy, and isn’t the best treatment. But it is very effective and easy, and you can herd them from over 1/2 a mile away from inside the house.
13. Lord of the Reports
In high school we had to do four book reports every year. A friend of mine did his on each Lord of the Rings books, and the Hobbit freshman year. He turned in the same four book reports for the rest of his time in high school. You switched English teachers every year so no one ever caught on. I was never brave enough to try the same thing.
14. One Man Assembly Line
I have a friend who started a business and essentially has a life goal of making the most money possible by doing the least work possible. He busted his butt until he could start buying equipment piece by piece; designed new equipment and tools to make things easier and faster, and then just kept doing it. He went from being able to produce like 25-30 items in a month to producing enough product in a month that people think he is a whole team of people. He makes like 1,000+ items a month now.
It’s just him with a garage and two sheds full of equipment. He just moves from station to station, doing a full assembly line by himself. I feel like if someone gave him a serious investment he could accomplish some absolutely crazy things.
15. Little Toilet Engineer
A few years ago, my mom was tasked with fixing my grandparent’s toilet while we were visiting for the holidays. The toilet reservoir was constantly filling and running, and thus flooding the bathroom, because the buoy arm wasn’t lifting high enough from the water in the reservoir to switch off the water flow. My mom (who is normally a very practical person) had been tackling the issue for hours.
She was pretty distraught, thinking we would have to order a new buoy arm, maybe even a new sensor, or switch and pull the whole assembly apart to replace everything. She was planning out a trip to Lowes and pricing things out when I walked in. I took one look at it and bent the metal arm the buoy was attached to, down, so the arm had a slight upward curve. The buoy still reached the same level in the reservoir but registered on the sensor as “higher” because of the curve in the arm.
Problem solved. Rangers lead the way. I watched it dawn on her what I had done, and she just looked at me like I had a third eye and said, “You little freaking jerk! I’ve been getting my butt kicked by this thing for 4=four hours and you fix it in four freaking seconds?!” She was very happy I saved her from more work and spending more money.
She calls me “her little toilet engineer” from time to time. I work on Aircraft. It’s mildly demeaning.
16. American Ninja Warriors
I was working a kids’ chess summer camp with this guy who just always spaced out like you wouldn’t believe (still a far, far better chess player than me). One day, the kids were being particularly rambunctious and I told him he had to take them outside to get their energy out. He had them spend the next hour doing “American Ninja Warrior” on the jungle gym/playground.
I hadn’t even heard of the show, but it was a group of young boys aged like 6-12, so they all adored it. This coworker loved to get super stoned and watch it. Don’t know if he was high at the camp, but he just got to sit on a bench and tell kids their time was getting slower when they did “stunts” and they just scurried and jumped around faster.
17. Kyle The Genius
In college, a professor always assigned 20-page papers. No one could ever get 20 pages out of one topic. We were only undergraduates. I consistently turned in papers that were 14-15 pages long and suffered for it. Then I learned about Kyle. He would write papers called something like The Origins of the Federal Reserve, it’s Role in the Depression of 1920, the Great Depression, and the 2008 Recession.
Four 5-page papers = one 20-page paper!
18. The Graph
During my internship, my professor gave me line graphs made on paper and asked me to find the coordinates by drawing horizontal and vertical lines. It would have taken hours if not days. I thought to myself, “I couldn’t be the first one who is super lazy.” So, I googled it, and found this cool free to use software “Web Digitizer.”
Step 1 – Scan the graph. Step 2 – Mark the X and Y axes in the picture. Step 3 – Grab a beer because you got the nicest graph that you couldn’t have drawn by yourself in a million years. My professor was so happy she asked me to document the method and mail it across the entire department. And yes, I did share my original method with my professor and the entire department.
One, she was a really supportive professor and I wanted to return her favors (even if this software might have been the tiniest help to her work). Two, the original developer of this software made it available online for FREE. They could have made it a paid service, and believe me, researchers would have paid because it is that good.
But they kept it free for all of us to use, and it was my responsibility to share their work as much as I could.
19. Top Temp
I was a temp. I 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. I clicked the “staple” button while at it.
Everything got printed by itself into nice stapled packets and I got paid to browse the 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.
20. Pit Maker
My parents were having a summer get-together a couple of years ago, and my dad wanted my brother and me to dig a small pit for a bonfire. He handed us two shovels and left us to dig. My brother went and started up our old tractor, drove it across the lawn, dropped the bucket into the earth and drove forward a few feet.
The pit ended up a little larger than what we had planned but once we lined it with stones it was actually a pretty nice pit.
21. These Numbers Add Up
I had an absolute nut of a boss at a restaurant. This lady was trying to be promoted so hard and was just so extra about everything. She wanted me to count every salt packet, lid, straw, and packet of ketchup in any open boxes. Like I couldn’t say 3 boxes and 3/4 of a box. I had to say 3 boxes and 872 salt packets.
If I gave the numbers too quick, she’d know I lied. So, I’d come up with reasonable-sounding numbers and then spend 10 hours playing Pokémon. Eventually, I left and went on to bigger and better things. Went by the mall years later and she was still there in the same job.
22. The Script Writer
I worked construction right out of high school to save money for school. Once every other week, we’d get a shipment of hundreds of door parts and they made me match serial numbers to parts and orders and confirm we got everything, then organize it all. It literally took 16 hours AT LEAST. And time moved so slowly. So, I got fed up with it and made a python app that would take a list of pictures, extract text from the pictures, compare it to an order receipt, then spit out a list of all missing parts and extra parts.
It knocked it down to an hour process of just throwing the door parts in the correct pile while waiting for the script to run. The worst part is that I didn’t even get a raise for doing it.
23. The Fan Solution
There’s a story that I’ve heard a few dozen times about a toothpaste company that had accidentally sent out cases of their product that had a few empty single boxes of toothpaste. The company had endeavored, not only to rectify their mistake, but to ensure they did not repeat it. They hired an engineering company that designed a scale and alarm shutdown system.
If an empty carton was passed down the production line, klaxons would be triggered, and a full stop would initiate until the offending box was recovered, and an all clear had been entered into the computer system, before production could resume. The company paid through the nose, but was ultimately pleased with their failsafe, and the engineers patted each other on the back.
A few months pass, and the engineers returned for quality control. The toothpaste company reported zero margin of error for weeks. Turns out, one of the minimum wage hairnet types on the assembly line didn’t appreciate the sound of klaxons, or working with computers. So, he or she had aimed a large fan at the production line, before the scale, that blew the lighter, empty cartons off of the conveyor belt. Problem solved.
24. Top Ranked
I worked at a chain restaurant and in my last few months there we got those stupid table kiosks that customers could pay at. There was a survey at the end of every transaction and our managers added new performance metrics based on how many people paid using the kiosk and also how well our service was based on the surveys.
One jerk would just fill the surveys out himself after his customers left and gave himself five stars in everything. Dude was always ranked top of the servers. Freaking genius.
25. Check Please
When I worked at an inpatient unit, one of the tasks we’d get would be to do a check in with every patient (there were about 100 when we were full). Nobody wanted that task—it would usually get split up, except this one guy who was pretty lazy always wanted it and I didn’t understand it because he was lazy. Finally, one day I was walking out for a break and I figured out what he did.
He plopped himself right beside the food line door and wouldn’t let people go in until they did their check in with him. That’s not how it was supposed to be done, it was supposed to be a chance for clients to connect with staff. But he’d get it done in an hour or so for the whole unit and be done for the day.
26. Coke Cap Solution
My dad and I were working on my grandma’s water heater a couple of years ago. We needed a cork or something to go over the end of the pipe. I had a bottle of coke in my hand, so I downed the coke and put the cap on the end of the pipe as a joke—but it fit perfectly so we kept it there. When my grandma sold the house five years later that cap was still on the end of the pipe.
I wasn’t necessarily the laziest person but I was the DLH (designated light holder) and I was providing “emotional support” thru sassy comments, so I was definitely taking the job the least seriously.
27. Little Genius
Teacher here! We have a kindergarten-3rd grade classroom with mixed ages. This year, we decided to assign a big project in pairs. We have a 3rd-grade boy who’s cynical, argumentative, and refuses to do work even though he’s extremely intelligent and capable. We decided in an effort to get work out of him, we’d pair him with a very energetic kindergarten boy who has underdeveloped 5-year-old reading and writing skills.
Anyway, the older boy typed sentences on the computer in big 20-point text and gave it to the kindergarten boy to trace on our light board, as well as pictures to color. Well played.
28. The Automator
I got hired into a plant that just got a big new job building stuff for the military. My job was “materials associate” which basically meant I drove a forklift and staged parts that were built. The “Engineers” came up with a floor plan for all of the parts and where they needed to be staged. They used fancy lasers and measuring devices and built it all in CAD.
After telling them it wouldn’t work, they said, “Well let’s see you do a better job”—and that’s exactly what I did. I organized the entire 50,000 square foot warehouse so that each part was close to the machines that use them. It followed the first in first out method, and each department knew where their parts went when they were done making them (put up signs and what not).
After that, my job was basically pointless because the warehouse ran its self. I decided to teach myself how to use the welding robots in my downtime. Fast forward three years and now I’m an automation engineer at one of the largest parts suppliers in the industry.
P.S. Robots are very easy to learn and operate if you’re struggling to find out what you want to do in your career. Places are hiring with minimal experience too, because there is a huge lack of people in the automation field. Get a 1-year college certification in mechatronics and you can make around $40-60k starting depending on location.
29. The Paint Marker Broom
A supervisor wanted me and another guy to mark the hydraulic hoses in this pit, so the second shift could jump right in and start replacing. Fine, but that involves someone getting a harness, waiting for security to come sniff the pit for gasses, fill out confined space forms, and get them signed, etc. I asked do they have to be marked in any order or way?
The supervisor said no, they just need some kind of identifying mark. So, I said ok got it. I told the other guy to hop on my cart “to see what we need” and to bring a broom. He was like ok. So, on my way over there I said, “You see how I asked if he just wanted them marked?” Well using this yellow paint pen, that broom handle, and some electrical tape, I bet we can mark them through the floor grate…
Sure enough, I drew a yellow line down a section of each hose. We came back and the supervisor was like, “Well?” I said, “Well what? We marked them; it’s done.” “WHAT HOW?” I showed him my paint marker broom and he just kind of stood there then laughed and shook his head.
30. The Script Writer Pt. 2
I got hired for a 3-week temp job that involved transporting strings of text from a text document that the company’s app produced into separate excel sheets relating to what the string in the text document was. It was hundreds of thousands of lines of records saying which office was printing, calling, emailing, basically any time the network was used.
They were making graphs about how much of call time was to what department/customer and things like that. Yeah, so I just wrote a script that read the first couple words, determined which excel sheet for which string, then watched TV for the rest of the two weeks. It ran 24/7 while I finished a bunch of Netflix shows.
It worked perfectly, and the company paid me extra to keep using the script I had written. To make things better, someone shut the computer down and couldn’t figure out how to restart the script properly so I came in and restarted it for an extra $50. Best three weeks of my life.
31. An “A” for Everyone
Back in high school I was taking a chemistry test. Our teacher gave us a packet of 150 random questions with the answers on it where 50 would be on the final test. We could use our notes and bring anything in we wanted for the test (no electronics). His idea was nobody was going to able to look through the randomly ordered packet of questions and answers and be able to answer all the questions in the hour we had so it was fine to give us.
Anyway, here comes test day and my friend and I made a list of every question in alphabetical order and by the first word. For example, if it started with “what is” that would be a category. We then proceeded to pass out 20 of our own packets of “notes” to the entire class and we all used them. Everyone got an A and the teacher wasn’t even mad.
32. Simple Surveys
This was at my first job at McDonald’s. Every time a customer filled out a receipt survey, we got a $5 gift card. For a college student, that’s a lot of money, so I would take home ALL the leftover receipts after my shift and fill them all out under my name.
33. The Record Breaker
I worked in a CNC shop. There would be a pile of jobs that needed to be done for the month; some took days to run while others were generally quick. The record for jobs done in one day was eight. What I did was look through all the jobs and organize them by setup. Meaning every job has a setup time. It can take an hour to get all the tooling together, setting up the cutting table, and setting the part square to the table so the machine can “gauge” where the part is; so, when I insert the code into the machine it can run flawlessly and drill, mill, tap whatever—within a literally hair measurement. For every single job.
Majority of parts use standard tooling. And I have an automatic tool changing with 20 pockets. Long story short, I figured out how to line up the jobs so they all have the same setup. I blew the record out of the water with 30 jobs done in one day, saving the company tens of thousands in work hours. All because I didn’t feel like doing all the setups that day.
34. Dig, Dug, Done
Back in my army days, we were on exercise and tasked to “dig-in” the armored vehicles. This normally involves shoveling dirt mounds up around the sides of the vehicles which face the security perimeter. The Squadron Sergeant Major who tasked us anticipated it would keep the soldiers busy for the best part of the week we were scheduled to be in location…
As soon as the SSM and Boss left for the formation orders briefing, an enterprising young Trooper jumped on the radio and called the Engineer detachment that was a few km down the road. The Engineers brought two bulldozers and quickly got to work…40 minutes later when the SSM and OC returned from orders, the engineers were long gone.
The rank pulled into the defensive position to see 12 Armored Personnel Carriers fully dug in and three empty positions ready for their convoy to slot into. It was the best case of beer I’ve ever bought.
35. Terrible Teacher
In high school, I had an absolute jerk of a teacher. He gave me a binder that had the name, address, phone, of every student in the entire district including the names off all of their siblings. I was to type this in, even though it was already printed out. I asked if it was already printed why was I typing it? He said they paid an outside firm a bunch of money to do it but the state pulled the funding and the firm refused to provide the files and now the district didn’t have the money to do it again but they still needed the data.
I was super peeved about how tedious of a job I was given and complained to no end. He knew that I was the winner of a typing contest and agreed that this one project would be my entire grade for the semester. If I could manage to get it all entered into the computer by the end of the year, I’d get a passing grade, if not I’d fail.
After about two hours of data entry, I decided it was a stupid job and downloaded OCR software, scanned the whole thing in and spent a day or two correcting scanning mistakes. My plan was to spend the rest of the semester goofing off and pretending to work. That lasted about a week before the teacher caught on. He then proceeded to start giving me more stupid tedious work and said the previous deal was now off.
Then I learned his secret. I found out that part of the reason the deal with the consulting firm ended badly was his fault and told him I was going to the school board with this information. We decided on a new plan. My grade for the semester would pass as an A. But I had free time to take on other classes the teacher offered. I used this free time to complete one and a half other courses.
36. In the Bag
Back when I was a cashier at Borders, we had to keep a certain percentage of Borders Rewards transactions. I was good at my job and was able to get in the high 80s/low 90s every month by being a good salesman and convincing people to get it. There was another guy I worked with who had an insanely high percentage and I didn’t understand how he did it. When I finally figured it out, I was blown away.
We later came to learn that he would just swipe a card and put it into people’s bags without saying anything about it. He got caught and was given a warning and put on probation instead of being fired for cheating. Fast forward about a month and I find out he’s getting promoted to work on the floor with all the movies and music.
I could not believe they promoted him after all that stuff he pulled and looked me over, someone who was actually a hard worker who did a really good job and often would have people compliment me to my managers. Then again, the management there was garbage, I eventually got fired from there because the guy covering for me while I was on vacation got fired and they somehow expected me to know and come in.
37. Whiny but Effective
Amazon warehouse, working with a guy who wouldn’t stop complaining. He knew he had to do enough to keep his job as you’re always measured on productivity, but he would let you know how much he hated his work every time he saw you. He did, however, turn half of his complaints into actionable ideas. “Why do I have to go all the way over there to pick up that pallet? If we move them here and shuffle this around it would work better…”
A lot of his ideas got adopted because they actually worked better and he was still there even when I and the last of the contractors I had started off with were let go. Not sure if they made him permanent but either way, changed the way I think of whiny people.
38. The Spin Feature
This is the best example I’ve done. For the last few years at the beginning of December, I’m in charge of decorating the tree. “In charge of” meaning I have to do it, not I have any new holiday authority over said process. It’s a fake 8-foot-tall one with pre-set lights that spin. We have to put it on a 2-foot stand so the dogs don’t mess with it…most of the time.
I stood there thinking of how many times I’d have to move the ladder to decorate this now 10-foot-tall tree with all of our ornaments, garland and shiny bead strings. After 10 seconds I decided to turn on the spin feature and it took me 20 minutes of placing ornaments (which I had to pay attention to) and 15 minutes of holding the beads/garland while the tree spun, as opposed to the normal 2ish hours it would’ve taken otherwise, which I did basically watching YouTube videos.
9/10 would lazy again.
39. Making Claims
I used to process HSA claims around 10+ years ago. One system we had to use back then was an old as heck terminal program that took four line items per page, that’s it. For a usual claim, no big deal, not too hard to keep track of things over two or three pages. For a longer claim, most fit on one. However, sometimes we had the dreaded shoebox claims.
This was the person who saved up every receipt all year in a metaphorical shoebox, and sent everything in, once a year, to empty their account. We hated them. Dozens or hundreds of line items totaling thousands of dollars. Just because you only have $500 in your HSA doesn’t mean we get to stop there. If you sent in $4,000 in receipts, I have to account for it all. Totally ruined your numbers for the day, and they tracked claims per hour religiously.
The main issue was double-checking that everything added up right when you were done entering it; at four items a page it took forever to tally. So, I made an excel sheet. It was laid out so I could enter every single line, then run a macro that would calculate the needed totals, and dump all the text to a text file formatted exactly so I could select four items at a time, and paste them directly into the terminal window from the default starting cursor position, and every field would fill in automatically.
Copy, paste, next, copy, paste, next, copy, paste, next… etc. It easily halved my entry times, with way less work. Finding any typos was much easier, I just had to look at one column organized sheet instead of scrolling through God knows how many pages of terminal text. It was great. I showed it to my manager so the rest of my team could use it.
She was horrified I would use something like that, because no human was “double checking as they went along.” This, despite demonstrable improvements to my error rates on large claims after I started using it. She ordered me to stop using it and forbid anyone in her team from automating any part of their job at all. I kept using it for all of the two months I stayed there after that.
I had some of the highest claim per hour numbers and lowest error rates on her team. I never developed any more tools for them. Screw her.
40. Smart Programs
I used to have to make two contracts for every person I brought on a traveling training team. I said two contracts were stupid and made them into one, sent it to our lawyers, and they approved it. It still took me too gosh darn long to update each contract with different names, pay rates, and dates. I did a quick search and found out how to make a mailer list, and make hours of work take 10 minutes. I didn’t tell anyone this though, so I just took my time.
Then I had to make floor maps for restaurants to send to the company, which are then put into our scheduling program. Well, all of our restaurants are cookie-cutter, so I just used paint to piece them together rather than make all of them each time. I’m freaking Picasso with Microsoft paint. Then they wanted me to use excel to keep track of training teams.
One of my coworkers used Smartsheet and loves to teach people things. So, I jump on Smartsheet with her and she shows me around. I found it way easier publishing it so that people can see the teams but not mess up any info. Using forms so I didn’t have to ask them 30 questions that auto-populate my Smartsheet, sharing it with payroll so they never have to reach out to me, templates on outlook, tons of stuff.
I basically took a lot of my job, said screw that there has to be an easier way, asked on Reddit or just googled things, and spent maybe an hour learning something that will save me many hours in the future. I always tell people to just google things. They say, “I don’t know what to google.” and I say, “Whatever your problem is just google it the exact same way you’d say it to me.” Then when they google, “Excel thing that makes this do that” they are shocked that they find their answer.
41. Moving Metal
I was once on a US military ship, having breakfast in the wardroom (officers lounge) when the Operations Officer (OPS) walks in. This guy was the definition of NOT a morning person; he’s still half asleep, bleary-eyed…basically a zombie with a bagel. He sits down across from me to eat his bagel and is just barely conscious.
My back is to the outboard side of the ship, and the morning sun is blazing in one of the portholes putting a big bright circle of light right on his barely conscious face. He’s squinting and chewing and basically just remembering how to be alive for today. It’s painful to watch. But then zombie-OPS stops chewing, slowly picks up the phone, and dials the bridge.
In his well-known I’m-still-totally-asleep voice, he says, “Hey. It’s OPS. Could you…shift our barpat…yeah, one six five. Thanks.” And puts the phone down. And then he just sits there. Squinting. Waiting. And then, ever so slowly, I realize what was happening. The big blazing spot of sun has begun to slide off the zombie’s face and onto the wall behind him.
After a moment it clears his face and he blinks slowly a few times and the brilliant beauty of what I’ve just witnessed begins to overwhelm me. By ordering the bridge to adjust the ship’s back-and-forth patrol by about 15 degrees, he’s changed our course just enough to reposition the sun off of his face. He’s literally just redirected thousands of tons of steel and hundreds of people so that he could get the sun out of his eyes while he eats his bagel. I am in awe.
He slowly picks up his bagel and for a moment I’m terrified at the thought that his own genius may escape him, that he may never appreciate the epic brilliance of his laziness (since he’s not going to wake up for another hour). But between his next bites he pauses, looks at me, and gives me the faintest, sly grin, before returning to gnaw slowly on his zombie bagel.
42. A La Carte
I worked in a huge hotel by the airport. We had a layover with over 400 people, and I think we had only three employees working at the time. They had a buffet for dinner and then left to go to bed since it was 1 or 2 am. Rule was, we should always go to the room and pick up as many plates as we could and then bring them to the cleaner. It took ages and I wanted to go home.
I decided to roll out the cart and collect the plates and put them on the cart. The guests were seeing it and started putting their plates on the cart when they left. All of a sudden hundreds of people cleaned up their own stuff. My duty manager saw it and I thought he would blast me, since the hotel was a 5-star place.
He just looked at me, smiled and said, “That’s why I like to hire lazy people, they think of ways to finish work faster.”
Editor’s Note: A reader with personal experience reached out to say that story 41 seems unlikely, so take that one with a grain of salt!