Routinized Slacking vs. Spontaneous Slacking

Editor’s note: Sorry for the delay! Last week was a really tough for me so I took a mental health break. I kept meaning to announce something but I kept thinking I was going to be able to suddenly write. And when I realized I wasn’t I either forgot to say anything or was suddenly busy with work/personal issue. I’ll do better in the future.

Maybe don’t make it this obvious, eh?

What slacking strategies work best depends on many variables. It depends on the co-workers you have, the managers you have, the kind of work you do, where you do it and in what season you do it. For instance, I do retail and in the recent holiday season (which is mercifully over) I strategized using routinized slacking (RS).

Think of RS as “scheduled slacking”: I’ll do such and such amount of work for a certain amount of time. I may do this just so I give the appearance of caring about my work. Or I may do this because these are the hours in which work is plentiful and I’m too unavoidably busy to slack in some meaningful way anyways. Or maybe I do it just so I save my slacking time towards the end when I’m getting tired and make sure I have the most obvious work out of the way.

Whatever your reasoning, it may be a good idea to siphon off a few hours towards your job (no matter how shitty) so you can slack easier in the future. For me, and during the holiday season in particular, it was advantageous of me to work (actually work) for the first three hours. From 4-7 I’d pretty much have no choice but to anyways.

So I figured any slacking I would get “done” would likely be minimal either way. Most of that slacking was just dazing off, quickly talking to a co-worker, flipping through a store magazine or book for a second and then being besieged by customers again. The rushes were particularly strong in the first three hours but I would be able to go on my 15 minute break after that. I’d then do the trash (while taking my time and taking a few breaks) and then slack.

By then, the lines were usually (but not always) a lot calmer and less dense, at the very least. At their best they were straight up gone and I was able to read my book, talk to a co-worker in more meaningful ways or just goof off. In the holiday season I soon found that it was much more sensible to schedule out my slacking then simply doing it whenever.

If I just did slacking whenever I was heavily liable to getting noticed by a manager or caught off-guard by a customer or co-worker. It was simply too busy and busy too often for me to get away with much.

But now that the holiday season is over I’ve had to re-train my mind a little bit. At first I kept thinking I had to wait until about 7:30/8:00 PM (when I have less than 2 hours in my shift) to start really slacking. But as the weeks have gone on and I’ve realized the store is going to be pretty dead, I’ve decided to just slack…whenever.

There are limits. I still try to minimize slacking for the first few hours. But once 6 PM happens, I’m getting out my book and reading it, especially since it’s a big one (I’m reading A Confederacy of Dunces if anyone is curious!). Sometimes I’d put off reading because I wasn’t reading a huge book and didn’t want to be without it for the rest of the night, if I finished.

It’s been a bit of a struggle to re-learn that it’s okay to just slack whenever and that I don’t need to wait till 7 PM.

It’s also difficult for me personally because I’m autistic and routines are a very important part of my life. That was another way in which scheduled slacking really worked for me. So I’ve retained a kind of loose schedule about when I’m going to slack. I tend to slack after an hour or two of actual work (e.g. tending to customers needs, facing the store, whatever busy work is assigned) and then stick with slacking as much as possible for the rest of the night.

Like I said, it heavily depends on what sort of work you’re doing. If you’re working outside in the cold, then I don’t know how to advise slacking. Maybe get your favorite song(s) so the work goes by faster? Maybe try to make sure you’re working with people you really like? I’ve heard from a few people who work outside during the winter and it sounds bad.

And it not just because it may not be what they really want to do in life but also because the conditions of a New England winter often make work difficult to even get on with. So in those situations, ones in which I don’t have much experience, I’m not sure what to advise. But it’s at least worth considering since I know people work things besides retail.

A last word about spontaneous slacking: Lots of things can be turned into a tool for slacking.

I’ve looked in otherwise lame-looking magazines and found some interesting articles. I’ve found moments of comfort focusing on the absurdities of consumerism and commercialism within the store I work. Even managers can sometimes give me a moment of respite if they’re laid back enough about their position and the job.

I also had the recent experience of working on the floor. And that was extra great for me because I could often browse the internet or even outright watch videos on Youtube, if I was sneaky enough. It also depended on the manager and how good they were at a game of cat and mouse. Maybe I’ll get more into that some other time…

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