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The Lifehack.org Guide to Green Living: 20 Green Ideas from Our Archives

The Lifehack.org Guide to Green Living: 20 Green Ideas from Our Archives
The Lifehack.org Guide to Green Living

This month’s theme at Lifehack.org is all things Green, but Green issues have been on Lifehack’s radar for a long time. Part of working efficiently and being productive is minimizing wastefulness, whether of our labor or our resources, and Lifehack.org is all about working efficiently. Here, then, are some of the best posts from our archives on how to reduce your environmental impact — while furthering your own goals and bettering your own life.

Consume less

You the Consumer: Written for Blog ACtion Day 2007, this post looks at the history of consumption in the West and the ways it has come to provide meaning (and in some cases, replace it) in our lives. (Dustin M. Wax)

How to Avoid Being Enslaved by Consumerism: If money can’t buy happiness, why do we spend so much energy chasing after it? More importantly, how can we stop?! (Scott H. Young)

Leaving the McMansion for the Small Life: Big homes demand big resources! Think about what your actual needs are, once you strip away the need to keep up with the Joneses with ever-bigger houses to show off and hold your ever-bigger collection of useless junk. (Mike St. Pierre)

Managing your magazine subscriptions: Magazine subscriptions seem to pile up, long after we’ve stopped reading the magazines. Take a few minutes to pare your subscriptions down to the ones you actually get value from. (Leon Ho)

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50 Frugal Blogs: Living frugally is a great way to save both resources and money; this post links to a list of 50 blogs (!) with a regular stream of tips on doing more living with less money. (Craig Childs)

11 Ways to Use Less to Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever: Living with less doesn’t mean living less. Here’s 11 ways to maximize your life while minimizing what you use. (Scott H. Young)

The Cost of Convenience: Getting it quick and easy might be great in the short-term, but favoring value means you’ll get more use out of the things you buy and do — and that’s better for you and the environment. (Rosa Say)

Go paperless

How to Go Paperless: Bury the Paper Before it Buries You: Tips and strategies for creating a paperless "mindset" (Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa)

Recycle

10 Ways to Recycle that Old Computer: With the Next Big Thing in the computer world always just around the corner, old gear piles up quick. Figure out what to do with it with these 10 tips. (Craig Childs)

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10 uses for plastic grocery bags: Put all those plastic bags around you to work with these suggestions. (Kyle Pott)

A Basic Guide to Thrift Store Shopping: One person’s waste may well be your treasure. Shopping at thrift stores is cheap and good for the environment, keeping perfectly usable goods out of landfills and incinerators. (Dustin M. Wax)

Get creative

How to Promote Resourcefulness in Yourself and Others: Be like MacGyver and figure out creative ways to reuse the waste that accumulates around you. (Lorie Marrero)

254 Uses for Vinegar: What is it about vinegar that makes it so useful? You can clean windows with it, sparkle up your dishes with it, help a cough with it — and even put it on salads! (Craig Childs)

Save $988/year by bringing your lunch: Bringing your own lunch to work saves money, but it can also saves resources. Restaurants — especially fast food joints with their paper and styrofoam packaging, plastic cutlery (often wrapped in plastic), and throw-it-out mentality — use a tremendous amount of resources to provide your meal. Save eating out for special occasions. (Kyle Pott)

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Blog Action Day Revisited: Blog Action Day was itself a creative response to environmental degradation — get thousands of bloggers talking up the issues to their readers. Here, the best posts from around the web are collected for easy reference. (Craig Childs)

The 10 Greatest Tools of All Time: Tips on using (and reusing) the tools you have — from WD-40 to empty margarine tubs — for all manner of household tasks. Why buy more stuff if the stuff you have is perfectly suited to the task at hand? (Reg Adkins; this post is a round-up of Reg’s 10-part series)

Eco-Friendly Bedroom: A Lifehack.org Howto Wiki entry on creating a bedroom that puts the environment and your comfort on equal footing.

Other sources

Lifehack.org writers have mentioned a few outside services to help you find more information on living Green. Here are a few:

Playgreen: Playgreen is a green living wiki, with community-contributed information for environmentally conscious lives.

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Green Maven: Kyle Pott recommended Greener, a green search engine, last year. Greener seems to be down now; Green Maven offers the same service, helping websurfers to find information, products, and services for a greener life.

25 cheap ways to keep your home cooler: With summer on its way and energy costs rising steadily, here are some tips to keep your air conditioning usage to an absolute minimum. That means less energy, and lower electricity bills, and there’s nothing wrong with either!

Let us know your own Green tips in the comments — or better yet, drop a link to posts about Green living on your own blog!

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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