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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Take it easy - spend more time at the office
With blazing hot weather, cricket on the telly, pubs open all day and a Bank holiday weekend ahead, today is an inspired choice for National Slacker Day, writes BBC News Online's Chris Horrie.

The Slacking campaign - which is in fact a publicity stunt organised by a highly industrious record company - is urging the nation to "take time to sit back and relax" in general and "do absolutely nothing" today in particular.

ice lolly girls

We hardly need any encouragement.

But the reality for many is that modern laziness has become extremely hard work; while diligent work can often lead to increased leisure time.

Take the example of convenience food.

Nothing could be more slack, surely, than slobbing out - Wayne and Waynetta Slob-style - in front of the TV with a re-heated convenience meal.

Wrong. This is actually very hard work.

The cost of the microwave oven is at least 100 and the meal is probably about a fiver. The TV set, which forms such an important part of the activity, may cost 200 and the cable TV subscription another 200.

Hard work

Cost of slacking

The inevitable dishwasher is another 300 bringing the total cost to over 900.

To earn 900 you would have to work on a building site day and night for a week without sleeping or taking a break, carrying bricks around and mixing cement or, if working in an office, write and send out something like 2,000 letters.

The ultimate symbolic slacker-scrounger option of getting social benefits to pay for it all is an even greater false economy of effort. You would have to read a million books on social policy and get a law degree and PhD in form-filling to even get a sniff.

The lazy option would be to cook the food yourself. In fact you would still be saving on effort if you grew the food yourself and, probably, forged and welded your own rudimentary stove.

The same paradox applies to staying in bed as opposed to turning up at (so-called) work.

Surely this is the smart, do-easy lazy, thing to do?

Not so.

Staying in bed is actually one of the most fantastically expensive and demanding activities you can engage in.

Beds themselves don't come cheap and, like anything else, they wear out more quickly the more they are used.

Mooching around

Duvets are worse - and require expensive dry cleaning in direct proportion to the amount of time spent under them. In line with the slob slacker approach you might let the duvet get dirty.

But think - what takes less effort? Mooching about the office doing your so-called "job" or spending a day wrestling with a filthy, sweaty, matted mass of synthetic duck feathers.

Even harder work

But the real effort-cost comes in getting a bedroom. According to official figures the minimum you need to earn in order to get a house in the UK is 30,000 a year (i.e. work on a building site 24/7). In London that would only get you a noisy bed-sit with paper thin walls where sleep is impossible anyway.

False economy

It's much easier to spend the day in a nice clean air-conditioned office where, anyway, you can normally spend the day mentally asleep without anyone noticing.

In Japan there are, famously, "salary men" who spend 10 hours at the office and then sleep in modified lockers at the railway station - that's the way to do it.

But the real false effort economies come in the field of digital home entertainment.

There are now TV boxes which somehow choose TV programmes that you like, saving you the trouble. But in order to understand how they work you need to go to night school and learn computer science and, in all probability, Quantum mechanics.


But the great effort-illusion of all is the internet. On the face of it you've taken the lazy option by coming to this page - much easier and quicker than going down to the newsagent.

But think again. The computer you are using probably cost 1,000, and you've spend hours of valuable, billable time working out how to use it. Then there's the time you spend working to pay the taxes used to build the military satellites on which the system depends.

So let's all support National Slacker Day, getting in touch with our work-shy side by staying in the office until midnight.

And then turn a new leaf. Stop slacking your fingers to the bone and lazing yourself into a early grave.

Take it easy. Go to work.

Your comments:

While slacking in the office, rest your head in your hands with a document directly under your bowed head. When you are woken simply shout "Oh my God can't you see I'm trying to concentrate here !!". If it's the cleaner simply go home to bed again.
Richard Grosse, England

30,000 a year to own a house? Are you mad? I get 42 a week benefit and live in a huge Oxfordshire mansion. I think your figures are wrong somewhere. Of course, the owner's going to be really upset when he gets back from holiday...
Andrew, UK

Handy hint for techies - "work" in the server room at all times, keeping the door locked for security... Or alternately spend the day in pub.
Dave Jones, UK

I started reading this article but then got distracted by an ice lolly and a chat. For ultimate slacking listen to The Slackers - a great band.
Ed, UK

The best way to have a slack day at work is to work in Canada. At least that's what I have found.
Ben, Canada

Someone should have told the aussies!
Mike Kitt, England

Whenever you feel like walking around the office take a bunch of papers with you from your desk, that way no one will suspect you're slacking, but rather you look like you're going somewhere important.
James D. McIntosh, Canada

Slacker Day...Hmmmm...I was slacking until I found I have to write a comment....that's work....but still...I am back to slack...Ciao
Rahul, Michigan, USA

Before going to sleep, put a bendy straw in your bedside drink - This will save you having to sit up in the morning to drink it.
Micha, UK

I am very interested in the figures illustrating that it is more cost effective to go to work that stay in bed. These figures are normally backed up by case studies and so, in the interests of the nation, I would like to volunteer myself for a case study (on the staying in bed bit that is). All offers of finance gratefully received!!
Liz Brookfield, UK

The best way I've found to slack off is to visit the BBC News website and read fantastically pointless articles. Like this one. Keep up the good work!
Piers, UK

Just like to say, without knowing about Slacker Day, I've not lifted a finger all day!
Dot, UK

If you're a skinny computer scientist, place a cardboard cut-out in front of your PC. Glue one of the PC speakers onto the mouth of the cut-out and program the PC to randomly generate curse-words and insulting phrases aimed at certain computer industry bodies. No one will ever notice that you're never in work.
Shane O'Connor, Ireland

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