Why You Need Slack in Your Life

You don’t have to squeeze maximum productivity from every minute of your work. In fact, it’s not striving for the greatest performance that gives you best results.

In an article on Farnam Street Blog, Efficiency is the Enemy, the author discusses why wiggle room is necessary for excellence.

Slack is defined in the article as “excess capacity allowing for responsiveness and flexibility.” Instead of being busy all the time, you always have some resources at hand—time, money, energy—that you can deploy to handle surprises or experiment with new ideas.

As a writer, I could spend my entire days writing. Squeezing every single minute to increase my word count would make me efficient. But it wouldn’t make me effective.

Filling my time with writing just to write something would steal the time and energy I could spend thinking what is worth writing (and then doing it). From this perspective, slack has nothing to do with laziness. In fact, it’s most essential work I can do, in the same way as a builder can’t begin without a house plan.

Quoted in the article Tom DeMarco says:

“Slack is the time when reinvention happens. It is time when you are not 100 percent busy doing the operational business of your firm. Slack is the time when you are 0 percent busy. Slack at all levels is necessary to make the organization work effectively and to grow. It is the lubricant of change.”

If you find yourself stuck, unable to innovate, lacking capacity to respond to events in your life or business, you need more slack. You don’t waste time when you give yourself some wiggle room. Quite the contrary—it may be the very thing you need to overcome plateaus and thrive again.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Sign up for the newsletter​

Get access to exclusive subscriber-only resources (80/20 Decision Making and a 5-day welcome series on the fundamentals of the 80/20 principle). You’ll also receive new blog posts via email.

Read Also:

Falling in Love With Non-Doing

In his video How to REALLY be Healthy in Mind & Body, movement expert Josh Hash shares an insightful story. After having his appendix removed, he was unable to train and do much else besides rest and recover.

As a person in love with doing, addicted to setting goals and pursuing them, he found the experience tough. But it was also eye-opening. He noticed another part of life. It’s the one we overlook in our highly-stimulating world. It’s the opposite of constant action, goals, plans, tasks, variety, efficiency, high energy, and so on.

Read More »

Don’t Steal From Yourself

One of my favorite business thinkers (and doers) is Jay Abraham. Through his penchant for simple, but unobvious strategies, he has generated for his clients more than 21.7 billion dollars. Some of his most notable students include Tony Robbins, Daymond John, and Ramit Sethi.

In his book The Sticking Point Solution, he shares his simple philosophy on life:

Read More »

Deliberate Ignorance Is a Superpower

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’d like to learn everything in an instant. My answer to this question might be boring. But whatever you want to have in life, learning is the starting, the middle, and the end point. Any superpower pales in comparison to this most versatile skill. Learning is living. Living is learning.

Read More »