Home / Notes / Slack


Notes from a concept articulated on LessWrong



Definition: Slack. The absence of binding constraints on behavior.

Source: Slack - LessWrong

Key Takeaway(s)

  • Given any project, always aim no higher than the quality target, and always strive for minimum expenditure of effort.

What I am saying is, don't conflate the quality line with the preference curve. Don't get confused when the teacher labels one quality-point "pass" and another "fail," for these are just labels, and your deeper goals are likely only tangentially related to those labels. Remember what you're trying to achieve, identify your quality target, and aim for that: no higher, no lower.

Source: Half-assing it with everything you've got


  • Those who do not value Slack soon lose it. Slack matters. Fight to keep yours!
  • If you want to be highly effective, remember what you're fighting for.
  • Your preferences are not "move rightward on the quality line." Your preferences are to hit the quality target with minimum effort.
  • Remember that the planning fallacy exists! If you shoot for a D, you might get an F. Humans tend to be overconfident. When you pick your targets, be cautious, and leave yourself comfortable margins.
  • Make sure to run a diagnostic test every so often to make sure you’re not running dangerously low, and to engineer your situation to force yourself to have Slack.
  • When looking happy means you deal with everything unpleasant, no one looks happy for long.
  • If those with extra resources are asked to share the whole surplus, all are poor or hide their wealth. Wealth is a burden and makes you a target. Those visibly flush rush to spend their bounty.


  • Constantly making slack in my life is a very important aspect of managing my mood and productivity. I am always seeking to ensure I don’t overcommit to responsibilities so that I have enough energy to commit to my long-term goals and current priorities.
  • Quite often I’ll find myself investing far more time than required into trying to make things perfect (writing, personal projects, planning-type activities) and I need to remember that learning rapidly and making mistakes quickly are critical to long-term success.