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How to Develop a Lifehack

How to Develop a Lifehack

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    Image by Ennor

    We benefit from the experiences of many on this site who have provided us with their hacks. It’s easy, fun, and makes my life a little better. Sometimes I get caught in a receiving mode, waiting for the next hack to come and enhance my life. I sit, waiting for an elegant solution.

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    Thinking about the word “lifehack” makes me think I shouldn’t be perpetually stuck in this receiving mode (which is why I’m excited about this opportunity to give back). A hack, by definition, is not an elegant solution that efficiently solves my problems. A hack is something quick and dirty to get the job done.

    Excuses Not to Develop a Hack

    Sometimes I get stuck waiting for an elegant solution before I try anything. The problem is that I don’t know the most efficient method until I actually try something. For example, some say the best way to sleep is for 20 minutes at a time spread throughout the day (polyphasic). Some say it’s best to sleep 8 hours. Some say drink a cup of coffee and take a nap (caffeine nap). With so many conflicting opinions, how do I tell which is best for me?

    For all the research I can do, there is no way to tell the best way for me until I actually try something. I fear that if I try and fail, I will have wasted all that time for nothing. What if I gain weight, instead of lose weight? What if I have less energy than before? What if I hurt myself? There are a million excuses not to do something and many are perfectly reasonable, yet I am still stuck doing nothing.

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    Seeking efficiency and reliability is not the spirit of a hack. A hack is quick and dirty. A hack is a venture into the unknown. It’s learning to do something in a way unintended by the design. It’s far from ideal because it’s engaging reality. Developing a hack is not the most efficient way, but we may discover that it is a better way.

    So how do we develop a hack?

    Step 1: Be Filled with Wonder

    Life is filled with routines that help us efficiently get through the day. We run our own personal programs on autopilot and often ignore everything else. It takes an intention to find something new to break free from our normal cycle.

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    If you ever watch people on hikes or even just walking by on the street, they are often so focused on their destination that they don’t notice their surroundings. Although, if you are along their path and stop to watch a bird or something interesting, they can break free to see what’s out there.

    To develop a hack you must be on the look out for something beyond what you normally see. Question the design. Could it be made better? Can you make it better? Curiosity will naturally lead you down a journey as you seek the answer. It will require effort, but you will be willing to pay the price to see what happens.

    Step 2: Be Adventurous

    An adventure is about the experience. There is danger and you may fail. Although you may not end up without the desired outcome, you will always have new experiences. If you do not explore, you cannot find your own path. Do you really want to follow someone else’s rules, intentions, life?

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    Be challenged by the problem. The creation of the hack is just as much about pushing your own boundaries and abilities as it is about the creation for others to enjoy. If you don’t find yourself being engaged by the problem, then it probably isn’t worth your time. The reward of a hack is knowing that you have engaged the unknown and emerged triumphantly.

    Explore. Discover your own paths. It may not be the most efficient path, but it will be yours. When you learn to develop your own hacks, you become the designer. You determine your own intentions, rather than following the intentions of others.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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