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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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    A Workout for Geeks How to Develop a Lifehack

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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