Selective Slacking: Why Sacrificing The “A,” Get’s You More

A book highlighted it.

I just finished reading this book called Smartcuts by Shane Snow, CEO of Contently. The book’s mission is to teach its readers how to achieve their goals in less time than it takes the majority of people. In the second part of the book, Shane begins to cover a topic called selective slacking: the process of putting as little effort (and time) as possible to get the minimum requirement of a task done so that you can focus on your priorities. While reading this chapter, something struck a nerve. “All of this seems oddly familiar,” I thought to myself while reading. And that’s because I’ve been using this technique for the past two years, ever since I began taking executive roles in student government at the City College of New York.

I was always an A student. I say this to highlight the fact that as soon as I started realizing that I couldn’t do both student government and excel in my classes, I had to make a calculated choice. So I asked myself, “What was I going to sacrifice? What were my main priorities moving forward?” At first, I opted for sacrificing my sleep, which ended up making my performance suffer in both areas of my collegiate career. So I decided, that what I wanted to learn from the most was from my leadership experience and not from my courses. I’ll admit that there were times where I wanted to drop all of my coursework altogether, to focus on student government, but I wouldn’t be able to maintain or run for future positions without at least maintaining a 2.5 GPA. I already had a 3.2 and calculated that if I just had one A and one B, each semester, I could focus on what mattered to me. And that’s what I did.

Using selective slacking now.

Now that I’m a college graduate, I can see how selective slacking can be applied to almost every aspect of my life. My two top priorities right now are focusing on growing my non-profit, Futures For Students, as well as excelling in my current part-time consultancy job for a startup in New York City. There are only 168 hours in a week, and I can’t possibly manage to grow an organization, fundraise money, be excellent at my part time job, and juggle all my other responsibilities. So I’ve set up a system (I use my calendar as a Gantt chart) to let me manage my time to excel in the things I care about. And most importantly, I’ve learned to say no to almost everything that takes away from the time I need to invest in myself. Putting the bare minimum amount of effort into things that don’t matter to me (like doing household chores) but still need to get down is the focus of how I’ve used selective slacking.

It’s a technique I suggest you at least experiment with. What do you want to do more of? There is always one hobby that you can allocate more time to but, you can’t because of the other one thousand responsibilities that you have. Learn to cut those you activities that you don’t care about to save yourself time! Selective slacking is a technique that allows you design your lifestyle based on your core values and priorities. Trying this out for a month will certainly show you the benefits of prioritizing your time and energy this way.

If you want to learn more about other techniques top paying innovators use to focus on their vision and work, definitely check out Smartcuts. I finished this book in a week.