To be (a lazy developer) or not to be

Lazy, meaning what?

The work of a programmer is full of challenges, without a doubt. But what makes a programmer ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at his job? I often heard that the best programmers are the lazy ones. The Internet even calls for such an attitude in a developer’s work! However, it seems that this theory, repeated from mouth to mouth, simplifies the issue very much.

Because what does it mean to be lazy? According to the Cambridge dictionary, it’s “not willing to work or use any effort” Okay, that sounds reasonable. But how does that translate into a programmer’s job?

Hard way to be a developer

First of all, you can’t be lazy to become a programmer. Programming is not a piece of cake. You won’t learn it with “not willing to work or use any effort.” Willingness to work and invested energy will be crucial here! You won’t be a programmer in one night. For example, it took me almost a year to learn to program in Javascript! And it was a year full of problems, with no hope that it would be possible, facing difficulties and facing them. A lazy person cannot handle it and will give it up.

Lazy developer or efficient one?

Okay, but let’s assume that we are already programmers working in a company. Are you being paid to slack at work? For inactivity at meetings (because meetings are a waste of time)? For not showing any proactive attitudes, failing deadlines? Not writing tests or documentation (because you don’t want to do it – too much work)? Maybe for the lack of willingness to develop skills and the lack of desire to be ‘up to date? I am asking because this makes me think of a lazy person.

I know you’re going to say, “No, it’s not that at all! It’s about making your life easier instead of doing the same boring stuff over and over again!” And you are right. That’s why great programmers are so good and often employed because they can solve problems effectively! A good programmer will wrap repeating code in a reusable function. Need to do something time-consuming by hand? A good programmer will write a script that will do it for him. But let’s think about it – is it a sign of laziness? In this little piece of a programmer’s work, maybe so. However, I would prefer to call it efficiency mixed with impatience and willingness to improve work and make life easier. To execute this sample script that does something for you, you need to work into it. It will not do itself 🙂

I also often hear that ‘a lazy developer doesn’t want to waste time on repetitive, boring activities’. But is this really about the lazy one? Or maybe about the one who cares about getting the job done efficiently.

The flip side of the coin

We also touch on one more critical issue here: too much diligence. The flip side of the coin is that you can be the hardest-working programmer in the world, but if you have nothing to do with efficiency and only work to work, you will also not be good at what you do. The saying “work smart, not hard” works excellent for programmers. We can call it laziness, efficiency, and wisdom, but we must remember the context here because the term ‘lazy’ is overused here for me.

What do you think about it?

2 replies on “To be (a lazy developer) or not to be”

  • December 24, 2021 at 10:33 pm

    ‘I often heard that the best programmers are the lazy ones. The Internet even calls for such an attitude in a developer’s work’

    I’ve never seen nor heard this in 20 years Could you point us to sources please that validate what you’re saying?

    • December 26, 2021 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Iain, thank you for your comment. You can simply google ‘lazy developer’ or ‘lazy programmer’ terms and you’ll see a lot of these kinds of articles. For example in Forbes, Stack Overflow or Medium here or here

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