24 March 2015

The Gentle Art of Sandbagging

Working is hard, and the best workers have figured out ways to make it easier.

Carpenters saw their production increase tenfold with the advent of the hammer. Prior to this invention, nails were driven by into wood by sheer force of will.

Hammers, and other tools, make work easier by allowing one to accomplish the same amount of work with less effort, or in less time.

Another proven strategy for making working easier is to do less of it, in the same amount of time. Or to do the same amount of work over a longer period of time. This is sandbagging. By following the tips below you should see your productivity plummet, while experiencing zero increase in workload or accountability.

The Tactic:

Bury The Lede

The Execution:

Do you have an important deliverable you need to check on? Have you owed someone an e-mail for several days? Do it when no one's looking. Sending e-mails out right before the end of the workday or -- even better -- before the weekend, ensure that the ball will stay in their court for a very long time before they can dig out and give you the answer you were technically waiting for.

The Tactic:

Knights & Knaves

The Execution:

One of your statements is a lie. One of your statement is true. One of your statements can either be a lie or truth. Use all three in a conversation to confuse and dishearten your co-workers. Their broken spirits will lead to a slowdown in work all around. Offer to help in any way you can, while also questioning whether your help is even necessary in this situation. Expect frustration levels to rise and productivity to plummet.

The Tactic:

"Workin' on it, boss!"

The Execution:

How's your task coming along? You're working on it! Even if you worked on it a week ago, you're still kind of working on it, right? And that's much nicer to hear than "I'm not doing anything with that right now because IDGAF."

Because you're (allegedly) actively working on something, very few eyebrows will be raised and the inevitable missed deadline will be chalked up to The Fates.

The Tactic:

The Grail Knight

The Execution:

This is related to Bury The Lede (see above) and the two can be used in conjunction for a potent, sandy combo.

Simply put, wait as long as physically possible before reaching out to anyone for status updates, help, or contact of any kind. The key is to make sure you have the action item waiting for deployment at a moment's notice. Like, right after your boss asks you for a status update.

By waiting as long as possible and then obtaining an update seemingly on demand, people will quickly notice your ability to Get Things Done.

The Tactic:

Lowest Expectations

The Execution:

This is more of a long con and it takes dedication to do correctly.

By simply doing the bare minimum to avoid detection while still technically fulfilling the requirements of your job, you can lower your co-workers' expectations of your work output to barely measurable levels. You then have two options:

Continue working at this glacial pace. You'll never get anything done but, because you set that expectation right out of the gates, no one will even know. Or care. They'll pick up the significant amount of extra work that your shitty pace generates.

If you need a quick reputation boost, simply work one or two days at a regular pace. While this seems to be antithetical to sandbagging, it actually buys you so much goodwill and so many accolades that you may be able to return to an even lower work output afterwards. 

The Tactic:

The Social Butterfly

The Execution:

Use the following formula, where x is time you spend doing work and y is time you spend reading blogs:

x +.5y = T

T is the time you now need to spend socializing. Park it in a co-workers cube and dish. Be seen at lunch with different groups. Pop into offices to chat.

This may constitute slightly more work (notice you'll have to sacrifice some blog-reading time) but the net effect is that someone who's so friendly and so visible can't possible be a bad worker. Although it may appear that you never get anything done (you don't) you're so well-liked that people will assume it's someone else's fault. Or, ideally, another department. You may want to select a department that's not well liked and work in anecdotes about how bad they suck while you're being a social butterfly. This will let people come to their own conclusions based on your lies and exaggerations.

The Tactic:

The Machine

The Execution:

I'll state right up front that this requires more time at work. Don't confuse this with getting more work done.

Get in to the office early. It just has to be early enough that you're already there when most people are getting in. They'll think, "Boy, he or she is sure here early!" Appear to be working when they come in.

Stay late. Again, you don't have to stay super late; just late enough that people will see you in the office as they leave. They'll think, "Boy, he or she sure is here late!" As always, appear to be working.

Adding five minutes to your morning and five minutes to your afternoon could net you an apparent increase of a full hour or more spent at the office.

Combine this with an odd-hour lunch. If you're hunched over your computer when people are leaving for lunch, then no one knows when you really left. Take a two hour lunch; people will assume you worked through the lunch hour and either grabbed something quick or immediately got roped into a meeting.

Consequently, you'll gain a reputation for working very hard and being willing to put in the hours. People will be less likely to ask you to do things because you're so very, very busy all the time. You can also increase the amount of slack in your day significantly, since people assume you're putting in a very long day.


This list is by no means comprehensive and should serve only as a jumping off point for a fruitful life of dragging everyone around you down like an anchor. Sleep easily knowing your co-workers depressed moods will only serve to slow down the general pace of work even further. 

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