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80 How-To Sites Worth Bookmarking

80 How-To Sites Worth Bookmarking

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    Sitting on my dining room table, I currently have half a dozen projects in various states of doneness. Some involve vivisected computer parts, others will eventually be wearable and a few are just cool things I’ve ran across on the internet. I like doing things myself — I think the DIY bug is one of the best communicable diseases in the lifehack community.

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    These eighty sites are the places I turn to when I’m trying to figure out how to accomplish any particular goal. Any time I’m facing a new project, I start searching for how-tos that will help me figure out how other people did similar things and how likely I am to finish the project with all ten fingers still intact. I’ve broken them up into a few different categories, just to help you narrow down what you might be looking for. Some are simply archives full of tutorials. Some are blogs that publish how-tos fairly regularly. Some are just great resource sites. But they all have provided me with the information necessary to carry through on a project.

    Every How-To They Can Get Their Hands On

    These ten sites are more than happy to host any how-to around. I’ve seen everything from computer hardware hacks to instructions for brewing beer on these sites. This is the place to start — you can narrow down your search as you get a better idea of your project.

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    1. Make Magazine’s Blog
    2. Instructables
    3. How Stuff Works
    4. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
    5. wikiHow
    6. flickr
    7. Lifehacker
    8. DIY Happy
    9. Expert Village

    Become a Technophile in Ten Easy Steps

    Each of these sites focuses primarily on providing the hacks you need to make sure that you have the best hardware and software around. One word of warning: you might run across some obsolete answers to your questions in the archives. Software how-tos don’t age as well as tips on building new furniture

    1. Hack A Day
    2. Hack This Site
    3. I Hacked
    4. Hacked Gadgets
    5. Make Use Of
    6. HacksZine
    7. LifeClever
    8. Web Worker Daily
    9. Tipstrs

    Habitat Hacks You Can Live With

    If you’re ready to make your home a little more customized, these sites will walk you through projects ranging from building furniture to home theaters for beginners. Remember, when it comes to your landlord, begging forgiveness is probably easier than asking for permission.

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    1. Ikea Hacker
    2. DIY Ideas
    3. Home Doctor
    4. Acme How To
    5. Hints N Tips
    6. Ready Made
    7. FlyLady
    8. This Old House
    9. Home Tips

    Dining on a DIY Diet

    Frugality gurus and health nuts alike advocate making your own food. Very few of us have access to either Grandma or a professional chef willing to walk us through the steps of homemade food, though. It’s time to turn to a few how-tos and recipes that can help us out.

    1. Cooking for Engineers
    2. Bakers Banter
    3. The Pioneer Woman Cooks
    4. Epicurious
    5. The Amateur Gourmet
    6. Culinary Media Network
    7. 101 Cookbooks
    8. Gourmet Magazine
    9. Simply Recipes
    10. Open Source Food

    Sewing and Other ‘Feminine Arts’

    It seems like most crafters are have two X chromosomes, but there’s no reason to count out knitting just because you have a Y chromosome. Heck, even Rosey Grier, defensive linebacker for the LA Rams, knitted some nice scarves.

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    1. TipNut
    2. Craft Magazine’s Blog
    3. Craft Stylish
    4. Craftster
    5. Craftform
    6. WiseNeedle
    7. GetCrafty
    8. Crafttown
    9. Design Your Life
    10. Geek Crafts

    Doing Business Your Way

    Looking for some instructions on getting your business going a little faster? These sites have all sorts of tips, how-tos and ideas for getting your business up to speed. Keep in mind, though, that not every business is the same. Different businesses have different needs when if comes to growing.

    1. Productivity101
    2. 43Folders
    3. LifeDev
    4. Biz Plan Hacks
    5. Freelance Switch
    6. Anywired
    7. Young Entrepreneur
    8. Bootstrapping
    9. Copyblogger

    Hack Your Wallet and What’s In It

    No matter how you earn your money, keeping those dollars in your hands can be a struggle. Plenty of sites offer tips, tricks and tutorials to help you do just that — beyond improving your earning power, these sites can help you keep what you already have.

    1. Frugal Hacks
    2. WiseBread
    3. Get Rich Slowly
    4. The Simple Dollar
    5. The Motley Fool
    6. Five Cent Nickel
    7. Mighty Bargain Hunter
    8. Money Hacks
    9. Dividend Money

    Get Your Brain to the Optimal Level

    Not all projects have a clear end result. There are plenty of opportunities to improve how you approach new tasks, study for tests and generally use your brain. Personally, these projects are often my favorites: I don’t need lots of tools to carry them out and I can often use them to help my approach to other projects entirely.

    1. Dumb Little Man
    2. Zen Habits
    3. Mind Hacks
    4. Hack College
    5. Study Hacks
    6. The Growing Life
    7. Life Optimizer
    8. Lesson in Life
    9. GTD Times

    There are millions of sites out on the web with tutorials, instructions and tips for just about every project you dream up — not necessarily a site that can tell you how to do what you have planned, but definitely one that can give you a starting point. These eighty sites are just that — a starting point. These are places worth looking when you have a specific project in mind, sites that can get you started on your plans. Oh, and there’s one more that’s worth checking: LifeHack. I’d be horribly remiss if I didn’t mention this site: it’s an amazing resource when you’re trying to decide how to tackle a new project.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

    More About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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