The art of the life hack

August 6, 2007

I read about life hacks all the time, but it’s taken me awhile to understand their full potential. Life hacks, quite literally, will change your life.

Let’s talk a bit about what a life hack is. A life hack is anything that can remove clutter from your life, help you be more productive, enable you to save/make money, or any combination of the above. The trick here is that it should be simple. If it’s not easy to implement, the chances of it making a sustainable impact in your life are slim. The idea is that a series of small steps lead to a better life, wherein you’re more fulfilled, successful, focused, and self-aware. Life hacks may come in the following flavors: productivity, minimalism, uncluttering, frugality, economy of effort/motion, or plain ol’ efficiency.

A few examples (some I’ve mentioned previously and some I haven’t):

  • Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero system (productivity, economy of effort, uncluttering)
  • LifeHacker editor Adam Pash’s Texter (economy of effort, efficiency)
  • Keyword launcher Launchy(efficiency)
  • Keeping a detailed project and task list with actionable, verb-centric items (productivity, uncluttering, efficiency)
  • Using Google Calender to track, share, and receive configurable reminders about your schedule (and you can even manage it via text message- how cool is that?) (productivity, uncluttering)
  • Subscribing to RSS feeds from sites like DealHack and Bargainist to find free or dramatically discounted stuff (AT&T & Amazon paid me $10.02 to take a new BlackBerry 8300 Curve) (frugality)
  • Paying your bills online manually or automatically instead of via snail mail or phone

Some excellent places to find life hacks

As a side note, the ultimate life hack is a good partner. This could be friend, relative, co-worker, spouse or all of the above (eww). Seriously, though, my girlfriend is a motivator, organizer, and co-financial planner. Plus, we’re very much alike despite the fact that we aren’t related. (Hey, I’m from Tennessee. I have to be clear about these things).

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One Response to “The art of the life hack”

  1. A Says:

    Great blog. I think you have an excellent point. Keep it simple. Focus your life. Take out the trash so you can concentrate on what is important. Make your lists, set your goals, find ways to be productive beyond just trying to get things done. But, also, that one can realize that much time can be wasted by obsessing over bigger, better things…by trying to take leaps and bounds when baby steps are completely sufficient. When you focus on what is really important, what REALLY matters, it’s funny how the little things you thought less frequently about really start to take shape, and be noticed.

    Like take this for instance…
    …”the ultimate life hack is a good partner. This could be friend, relative, co-worker, spouse or all of the above (eww). Seriously, though, my girlfriend is a motivator, organizer, and co-financial planner.”

    I bet she respects, admires and embraces you for all that you are, all that you do and all that you would ever want to be. Aww…the woman of a true “tech-y”…she knows nothing about development, google readers or RSS feeds(?) but I bet her #1 blogger is MSvT, and well, this post…well, you probably already know, by now, what she thinks about this one…


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