What do you mean it’s not there? It’s RIGHT there – just look! It’s not there at ALL.’Off she went, jamming the refrigerator shut. I however, was just getting started: ‘You get right back there and find that parmesan young lady – this is not how we roll here. When you want something you don’t give up that easy, at least not without shuffling the darn Tupperware first!’ ‘What are you talking about, I don’t even want any parmesan! Jeez!’

Well, you’ve probably guessed it by now: If there is something that rubs me the wrong way, it’s a lack of effort. In anything, really: white papers, manicures, project plans, content marketing, data analysis, salad dressings – there is a lot we can do half-heartedly, and none of it will be any better for it.

So, why do it? Well, for one, it tends to save time. Doing something with limited effort frees resources. These resources can then be used for something else. Depending on your priorities, a lackadaisical approach can be a smart move, since it will enable you to double your production rate, leaving room to focus on other assignments. In the example above, the assignee managed to combine her – alas, unsuccessful – refrigerator hunt with a social media update and some passive-aggressive eye-rolling.

Another valid reason for taking shortcuts is motivational. As in the example above, you may simply feel that the assignment at hand is not worth more than a lackluster, half-baked attempt to get it done and over with. If you don’t really want the parmesan anyways, why bother? In both cases, a cursory, noncommittal approach is the result of a careful evaluation of facts instead of a sloppy attitude.

Yet, mediocrity comes at a price, since the outcome is usually rather unimposing. Leaving the parmesan and moving on to project management, this leaves us with an important reminder to keep evaluating our priorities: Feeling motivated to do one’s best is generally based on the value we put on the end result. Let’s make it worth our while!

Julia Ryberg