Advertising
Advertising

The 80 Best Lifehacks of 2008

The 80 Best Lifehacks of 2008

The 80 Best Lifehacks of 2008

    And so we arrive yet again at the end of another year. 2008 was at best a mixed bag – while the world was electrified by the US election and it’s promise of change, the global economy was shaken to its core as a decade of financial mismanagement and willful blindness finally caught up with us. Gas prices spiked, leading us all to ask some difficult questions about sustainability, efficiency, and consumption – and then plummeted, leaving us feeling somewhat relieved, but baffled by the unpredictability of it all.

    Advertising

    As we roll into 2009, there is an atmosphere of suspenseful anticipation, of hope mixed with not a little uncertainty. Companies are streamlining to prepare for the worst, even as entrepreneurs look ahead to new opportunities. Overall, it seems that now is a time for shaking off the dust, clearing away the debris of the past, and looking towards the future.

    Here at Lifehack, we’ve always followed a path of cautious optimism. Plan for the worst, but work for the best! 2008 has seen the arrival of a host of new contributors, as well as two new contributing editors, Thursday Bram and Joel Falconer. Together, we’ve continued to bring you the best tips, advice, and recommendations across the field of productivity, helping with everything from managing your todo list to managing your career.

    Advertising

    Here, then, are the best posts of 2008, selected according to their popularity and the amount of discussion they generated both here on the site and across the blogosphere. Contained in these posts is a healthy dose of the wisdom, direction, and skill you need to move forward into a successful 2009!

    Communication

    1. How to Build Credibility on the Web
      14 ways to make sure that your voice is the one people pay attention to among the anonymous masses on the Web. (Dustin M. Wax)
    2. 7 Little Tricks To Speak In Public With No Fear
      Most people are terrified of speaking in public. With these tips, you don’t have to be. (Mohamad Zaki)
    3. How to win Arguments – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics
      Helpful tips to come out on top when it matters. (Paul Sloane)
    4. The Value of Writing Well
      Improve your writing skills to make yourself a better thinker, a more compelling speaker, and all-around better person. (Dustin M. Wax)
    5. Be Heard. Speak Plainly.
      Tips on making yourself clear — and persuasive. (Dustin M. Wax)
    6. How to Write in 140 Characters or Less
      The future of writing is Twitter. Here’s how to make yourself understood in today’s micro-media. (Dustin M. Wax)
    7. How to Write (in a thousand words or less)
      17 tips to help make you a better writer. (Dustin M. Wax)
    8. The Ultimate Writing Productivity Resource
      Software, web apps, websites, and other essential resources every writer should know about. (Dustin M. Wax)
    9. How to Write a Business Letter That Gets Results
      Writing a business letter is more than just following the right format — though that helps, too. Here’s some advice on how to nail your business correspondence. (Dustin M. Wax)
    10. 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
      Everyone hates PowerPoint presentations, but they won’t hate yours if you follow these tips. (Dustin M. Wax)

    Fitness/Health

    1. Are You Following the Wrong Exercise Program?
      Your exercise program might not be right for you and your goals. Here’s how to tune your exercise regimen to make it right for you. (Craig Harper)
    2. Making Meals Easier: A Few Healthy Eating Ideas
      Easy ideas for healthier eating from three nutritionists. (Thursday Bram)
    3. How to Lose Weight Watching TV
      Exercise ideas you can squeeze into the commercial breaks of your favorite shows. (Craig Harper)
    4. Five Ways to Pick up the Exercise Habit Again
      Get back in shape after falling off the wagon with these tips. (Aaron M. Potts)
    5. 20 Foods To Snack On For Enhanced Productivity
      If you’re going to have a snack, why not have one that gives you more energy, helps you think better, or eases stress? (Kavit Haria)
    6. 15 Reasons Why You’re not Losing Weight
      You’re eating healthy and still not dropping the pounds? Maybe you’re over-indulging on one of these supposedly healthy but really fattening foods. (Craig Harper)
    7. How To Lose Belly Fat
      Helpful tips on working towards a slimmer stomach. (Mark McManus)

    Lifestyle

    1. 50 Ways to Make Your Home More Organized, More Attractive, and More Efficient
      Tips from Lifehack readers about home organization. (Dustin M. Wax)
    2. 10 Keys to Work/Life Balance
      Approaches to maintaining a healthy relationship between your work and the rest of your life. (Dustin M. Wax)
    3. T.H.U.M.P. – 5 Ways to Deal with Irresponsible People
      How to get irresponsible people out of your life — or at least make them less dangerous. (Aaron M. Potts)
    4. 5 Simple Steps To Be Happy — Finally
      FIgure out what makes you happy and start doing it! (Alex Shalman)
    5. Punctuality Counts
      Being on time might not seem that important, but it portrays confidence, respect, and command. Check out the follow-up, How to Be On Time Every Time, for tips on breaking  the late habit. (Dustin M. Wax)
    6. 34 Tips for Your Younger Self
      Lessons Lifehack readers wish they had known when they were younger. Required reading for young people of every age. (Joel Falconer)
    7. 10 Morning Rituals For The Healthy EntrepreneurHow you start your day can make the difference between success and failure. Start it right with these productive habits. (Kavit Haria)
    8. 11 Tips to Carve Out More Time to Think
      When it feels like you don’t have time to form a complete thought, follow these tips to get things back under control. (Scott H. Young)
    9. What’s It Going to Take to Make You Happy?
      All that stands between you and happiness might well be your failure to figure out what would make you happy. (Dustin M. Wax)
    10. 80 How-To Sites Worth Bookmarking
      A smorgasbord of sites to help you do just about anything. (Thursday Bram)

    Productivity

    1. 50+ Personal Productivity Blogs You’ve Never Heard of Before (and about a dozen you probably have)
      A bird’s-eye view of the productivity blogosphere’s lesser-known reaches. Don’t miss the follow-up, Readers Recommend: 15 More Productivity Blogs You Probably Never Heard Of, drawn from reader’s comments. (Dustin M. Wax)
    2. 6 Signs Your Lifehacks Aren’t Working
      Just because something seems like a good idea doesn’t mean it’s helping. Here’s how to tell when your productivity tricks are causing you more trouble than good. (Thursday Bram)
    3. Read This Now! Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff Done — or Else!
      Tips on breaking the hold of procrastination. Took forever to get around to writing this! (Dustin M. Wax)
    4. How to Ruthlessly Reclaim Work Day Time
      Sometimes lifehacks just aren’t enough to take control of your time. Here’s what to do when more drastic measures are called for. (Joel Falconer)
    5. 10 Hacks to Improve Your Home Office Productivity
      Working at home offers plenty of conveniences, but also distractions. Here are some tips on taking charge of your home office to get more done. (Joel Falconer)
    6. 5 Ways to get out of faffing mode
      Stop futzing around and get moving, already! (Steven Aitchison)
    7. 10 Steps To Working On The Road
      Tips for today’s mobile professionals. (Thursday Bram)
    8. 10 Tips For Improving Your Appointment Setting Skills
      Great ideas for taking charge of your schedule. (Thursday Bram)
    9. 50 Tricks to Get Things Done Faster, Better, and More Easily
      Your one-stop shop for the best concepts and tricks for increasing productivity. (Dustin M. Wax)
    10. The Ultimate Student Resource List
      Free software, web apps, and websites, along with links to the best of Lifehack’s advice for students, make this post the ultimate guide to success for students. (Dustin M.Wax)
    11. 10 Productivity Myths That Hold You Back
      Misguided beliefs about productivity that sap our energy and lead us down the wrong path. (Dustin M. Wax)
    12. 30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity
      Great ways to recharge your creative batteries and get the ideas flowing again. (Joel Falconer)
    13. 8 Good Reasons to Be a Lousy Musician
      Who says you need to be perfect at everything? Here’s some good reasons to give yourself permission to suck at something you love. (Dustin M. Wax)
    14. The Science of Setting Goals
      What goes on in our brain when we set, achieve, and fail to achieve our goals. (Dustin M. Wax)
    15. 5 Effective Ways to Improve Your Sleep
      Tips and tricks to help you get a fuller, more restful nights sleep. (Joel Falconer)

    Success/Achievement

    1. 8 Essential Skills They Didn’t Teach You In School
      Important life skills like how to network, set goals, and negotiate. FIgure these out and you’re miles ahead the rest! (Brian Armstrong)
    2. 10 Skills You Need to Succeed at Almost Anything
      No matter what field you’re in, these skills are essential to achieving success. (Dustin M. Wax)
    3. 29 Worn Out Perspectives in Need of the “Oh Really?” Factor
      We all have excuses for why we don’t achieve our goals. But are they really to blame, or are we just avoiding the hard work of succeeding? (Lisa Gates)
    4. 10 HARD Ways to Make Your Life Better
      In today’s quick-fix culture, there are still great rewards to be gained for people willing to work hard and pay dome dues. (Dustin M. Wax)
    5. I Won Science Fair with A Failed Project: The Skill of Presenting Failures
      Turn failure into success with these tips. (Thursday Bram)
    6. Three Basic Steps to Get Your Desire with the Least Effort
      Know what you want, how to get it, and the tools you’ll need on the way. (Donald Latumahina)
    7. Build Your Platform: How to Show You’re the Right Person for Any Job
      Convince your world you can handle anything by building a strong platform to build your case on. (Dustin M. Wax)
    8. The George Costanza Lifehack for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety
      Important life lessons from everyone’s favorite schlub, George Costanza. (Derek Ralston)

    Technology

    1. 11 Free Mind Mapping Applications & Web Services
      Review of 11 free applications for creating, storing, and exploring your thoughts. (Joel Falconer)
    2. 7 Email Myths That Plague the Workplace
      Replace these bad email practices with more efficient habits and achieve email mastery. (Joel Falconer)
    3. 8 Web Databases for Tracking, Collecting and Recording Data
      Reviews of eight powerful tools to help you manage your data. (Joel Falconer)
    4. 7 iPhone Apps to Boost Your Productivity
      Your iPhone is more than just a toy. Try these apps to increase your productivity on the go. (Joel Falconer)
    5. The Quick & Dirty Guide to Personal Wikis
      Get started with wikis for note-taking, brainstorming, and online collaboration. (Joel Falconer)
    6. 14 Web Apps for Your Portable Office
      Suggestions to build an always-on, access-anywhere web office for the mobile worker. (Joel Falconer)
    7. Aggregate Your Social Networks with EventBox
      Instructions on using EventBox as a universal interface for your online life. (Joel Falconer)
    8. How Bloggers Can Use FriendFeed Effectively
      Use feed aggregator FriendFeed to improve your blogging. (Joel Falconer)
    9. Guy Kawasaki’s Thoughts on Online Life
      An interview with web entrepreneur and author Guy Kawasaki about the present and future of the Web. (Rowan Manahan)
    10. How To Use Your Blog To Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!
      Blogging isn’t just an outlet for stories about your cat — it can make you a better, happier, and more productive person! (Alex Shalman)

    Work/Finance

    1. 7 Portfolio Tricks That Will Land You A Job
      With the economy staggering about like a drunken baby, creative professionals need all the edge they can muster. These tips will help you organize your portfolio to impress clients and win you work. (Thursday Bram)
    2. 16 Great Personal Finance Resources & Blogs
      With the economy shaking like a Jello shot at a sorority party, these sites are crucial for people who’d rather stay not-broke. (Joel Falconer)
    3. 10 Improvements You Can Make to Your Resume Right Now
      With the economy dodgier than a Washington Square pot dealer, here are ten ways to put your resume in tip-top shape. (Thursday Bram)
    4. 32 Hacks for Sticking to Your Budget
      With the economy looking scarier than a weekend getaway at the Bates Motel, these tips for making your budget work are essential reading! (Joel Falconer)
    5. 50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time
      With the economy wobbling like a thirsty Weeble at a wine tasting, a few extra bucks sure couldn’t hurt. Here are 50 ways to build an income on the side — maybe one of them is right for you? (Thursday Bram)

    Back to Basics: Revisiting Productivity’s Fundamentals

    An occasional series exploring the fundamentals of productivity, with helpful tips to bring your  own system together. (Dustin M. Wax)

    Advertising

    1. Back to Basics: Projects
    2. Back to Basics: Waiting For Someday/Maybe
    3. Back to Basics: Your Task List
    4. Back to Basics: Procrastination – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    5. Back to Basics: The Big Picture
    6. Back to Basics: The Tickler File
    7. Back to Basics: Reminders
    8. Back to Basics: Your Calendar
    9. Back to Basics: Processing
    10. Back to Basics: Your Inbox
    11. Back to Basics: Your Weekly Review
    12. Back to Basics: Setting Priorities
    13. Back to Basics: Your Inbox
    14. Back to Basics: Reference Filing
    15. Back to Basics: Capture Your Ideas

    One more thing…

    Don’t miss our new apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch:

    Happy 2009!

    Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and editors for making 2008 a great year. We wish you all a happy, healthy, and productive 2009!

    Advertising

    More by this author

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively How To Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff Done Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) The Science of Setting Goals (And Its Effect on Your Brain) Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Trending in Featured

    1 3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively 2 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 3 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

    Advertising

    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

    Advertising

    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

    Advertising

    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

      Advertising

      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

      Read Next