Advertising

The 80 Best Lifehacks of 2008

Advertising
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

    10 Best Tips for Traveling Internationally The Tao of Travel Get D.U.M.B.! The Value of Unattainable Goals Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed 11 Ways to Think Outside the Box

    Trending in Featured

    1 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 2 The Art of Humble Confidence 3 How to Learn Something New Every Day and Stay Smart 4 15 Healthy Eating Tips from a Professional Health Coach 5 Back to Basics: Capture Your Ideas

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    Advertising
    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

    Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

    When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

    Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

    What Makes People Poor Listeners?

    Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

    1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

    Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

    Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

    It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

    2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

    This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

    Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

    3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

    It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

    Advertising

    I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

    If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

    4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

    While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

    To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

    My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

    Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

    Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

    How To Be a Better Listener

    For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

    1. Pay Attention

    A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

    According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

    As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

    Advertising

    I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

    2. Use Positive Body Language

    You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

    A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

    People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

    But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

    According to Alan Gurney,[2]

    “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

    Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

    3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

    I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

    Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

    Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

    Advertising

    Be polite and wait your turn!

    4. Ask Questions

    Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

    5. Just Listen

    This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

    I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

    I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

    6. Remember and Follow Up

    Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

    For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

    According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

    It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

    7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

    If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

    Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

    Advertising

    Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

    Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

    NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

    1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
    2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

    8. Maintain Eye Contact

    When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

    Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

    By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

    Final Thoughts

    Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

    You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

    And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

    More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
    [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
    [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
    [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

    Read Next