No, this is not a paid post about Slack.
We’re talking about:
Noun: ‘A spell of inactivity or laziness.’
Shane Parrish published an interesting post recently on the value of keeping some slack in your schedule, which we think will resonate a lot with managers.
That definition above, which comes from the Oxford Languages dictionary, neatly demonstrates exactly the issue Parrish explores. We live in a time where companies and individuals feel intense pressure to be productive, optimising every minute of our working day for output.
Parrish’s point is that this probably makes you worse at your job.
If every minute of your day is planned, you’re not able to respond promptly to new developments and opportunities, which could/should be higher priority. This makes you less effective in your role.
He draws upon the work of Tom DeMarco who used the analogy of one of those puzzle games consisting of eight numbered tiles in a box, with one empty space so you can slide them around one at a time to make the correct pattern.
As he says:
‘Without the open space, there is no further possibility of moving tiles at all. The layout is optimal as it is, but if time proves otherwise, there is no way to change it.’ Tom DeMarco
This is particularly true for roles which have lots of different responsibilities, and require frequent context-switching and decision-making, like managers.
As a secondary order effect, the impact of having to make decisions and re-prioritise when you don’t have any slack is a recipe for intense stress (we explored this in a previous newsletter).
So try and give yourself some slack in your schedule. It’s not laziness. This ‘inactivity’ will likely make you a better manager.