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The lifehack.org User’s Guide

The lifehack.org User’s Guide
lifehack.org: Your Complete Productivity Guide

    With the rise of RSS, website content is increasingly found far afield from the websites where it originates. And there’s nothing wrong with that — RSS away! But for those of you who read lifehack.org’s post in your feed reader, as well as those of you new to lifehack.org or longtime readers who might not have had a chance to look around the site much, I thought I’d take a moment to point out all the features lifehack.org offers.

    It’s What’s Inside That Counts

    Of course, first and foremost here at lifehack.org are the half-dozen or so new posts that go up nearly every morning. Go ahead and subscribe to our RSS feed, if you haven’t already. Our posts are organized into six categories: Communication, Lifestyle, Management, Money, Productivity, and Technology.

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    lifehack.org is written by several permanent writers, including our founder Leon Ho, Craig Childs, Scott H. Young, and myself (Dustin M. Wax). In addition, a never-ending stream of guest authors post here, bringing to bear their wisdom and perspectives from a range of professional and personal perspectives. Guest posts are identified in the bio following their articles — be sure to check out their websites for more.

    And, of course, there’s you: our readers, commenters, and inspiration. Got a topic you’d like to see lifehack.org cover? Email our tips hotline at tips@lifehack.org. Or become a guest contributor yourself — see our contributor’s guidelines for more information. You’ll be writing for one of the most popular blogs on the Internet: no. 41 according to Technorati. There’s worse ways of getting your message out!

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    But Wait, There’s More!

    While the blog is the visible face of lifehack.org, it’s only part of what we do here. lifehack.org is about people helping other people to lead happier, more productive lives, and none of our writer have a monopoly on how to do that. At its heart, lifehack.org is not about the one-way flow of ideas and advice — it’s about the community of like-minded folks lending each other their own wisdom, advice, and the little hacks that make life a bit easier.

    In short, we encourage ever reader to take part, to share your own tricks and knowledge with the rest of us. One way to do that, of course, is to comment on our stories. We thrive on your feedback, of course, but that’s only one way among several for your voices to be heard here.

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    There’s also our howto section, an instruction manual for life. Built around the same software that powers WikiPedia, the lifehack.org How-To Manual has pages on writing, sleep habits, management skills, and other topics gleaned from lifehack.org, but it could and should be home to much more — any information you feel will help someone get a grasp on his or her life is welcome. Register for an account and start sharing!

    Or maybe you prefer something a bit more conversational? Then pay the lifehack.org community forum a visit and join the conversation. Any topic covered at lifehack.org is fair game, from your thoughts on a recent post to your grand philosophy of productivity to an inside look at your Moleskine.

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    But That’s not All!

    You don’t have to be at your computer to enjoy all the lifehacky goodness lifehack.org offers. Load up your iPod or other music player with the lifehack.org podcast (Subscribe). Currently hosted by lifehack.org contributor, entrepreneur, and cartoonist Tony D. Clark, the podcasts are titled “Trial By Fire Productivity”, with each monthly episode finding a different person in the hotseat to answer five questions about how they stay productive:

    1. Describe your current productivity process – the one you use day-to-day to stay on track and get your stuff done.
    2. What have you tried in the past that just didn’t work for you?
    3. How has your process evolved over the past year, and were there any major contributing factors to how it evolved?
    4. What 3 – 5 productivity tools to you find to be indispensable?
    5. What one thing do you do that has the biggest impact on your productivity — if you had to pick only one thing to do each day, what would it be?

    Finally, because no productivity website is complete without its own line of GTD downloads, we offer you as your free gift just for dropping by our templates. Designed to be printed out on sheets of letter- or A4-sized card stock, the GTD templates will look swell tucked into your Hipster PDA or the back pocket of your Moleskine. Also pretty cool is the graph paper generator: Enter your paper size and the size of grid lines you want and voila! A pdf file you can download and print out over and over and over.

    If you find your schedule getting a little too demanding for graph paper and index cards, you may want to try out Tony Clark’s Task Flow Worksheet and Risks Versus Rewards Worksheet on the same page. Tony’s written up full instructions for each of them, so enjoy.

    Closing Time

    So there you have it — a brief tour of the facilities, capped off with a free template or two to take home and show your friends. Since we’d naturally like to see lifehack.org be the best site it can possibly be, we’d love to see you using all the features outlines above. But maybe you need more, maybe there’s something that would make lifehack.org that much better or you? Let us know, either here or in the forums.

    More by this author

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works) Building Relationships: 11 Rules for Self-Promotion How to Become an Expert (And Spot out One Nearby)

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

    The hardest part of socializing, for many people, is how to start a conversation. However, it is a big mistake to go about life not making the first move and waiting for someone else to do it [in conversation or anything].

    This isn’t to say you must always be the first in everything or initiate a conversation with everyone you see. What should be said, though, is once you get good at starting conversations, a lot of other things will progress in the way you want; such as networking and your love life.

    Benefits of Initiating a Conversation

    First thing is you should acknowledge why it is a good thing to be able to initiate conversations with strangers or people who you don’t know well:

    • You’re not a loner with nothing to do.
    • You look more approachable if you are comfortable approaching others.
    • Meeting new people means developing a network of friends or peers which leads to more knowledge and experiences.

    You can only learn so much alone, and I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of learning from others. Being able to distinguish the ‘good from bad’ amongst a group of people will help in building a suitable network, or making a fun night.

    All people are good in their own way. Being able to have a good time with anybody is a worthy trait and something to discuss another time. However, if you have a specific purpose while in social situations, you may want to stick with people who are suitable.

    This means distinguishing between people who might suit you and your ‘purpose’ from those who probably won’t. This can require some people-judging, which I am generally very opposed to. However, this does make approaching people all the more easier.

    It helps to motivate the conversation if you really want to know this person. Also, you’ll find your circle of friends and peers grows to something you really like and enjoy.

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    The Rules

    I don’t have many rules in this life, for conversation or anything; but when it comes to approaching strangers, there are a few I’d like used.

    1. Be polite. Within context, don’t be a creepy, arrogant loudmouth or anything. Acknowledge that you are in the company of strangers and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. First impressions mean something.
    2. Keep it light. Don’t launch into a heartfelt rant or a story of tragedy. We’re out to have fun.
    3. Don’t be a prude. This just means relax. This isn’t a science and conversation isn’t a fine art. Talk to people like you’re already friends.
    4. Be honest. Be yourself. People can tell.

    Who To Talk To?

    I’m of the ilk that likes to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone has a story and good personalities. Some are harder to get to than others, but if you’re on a people-finding excursion, like I usually am, then everyone is pretty much fair game.

    That said, if you’re out at a function and you want to build a network of people in your niche, you will want to distinguish those people from the others. Find the ‘leaders’ in a group of people or ask around for what you’re looking for.

    In a more general environment, like at a bar, you will want to do the same sort of thing. Acknowledge what you actually want and try to distinguish suitable people. Once you find someone, or a group of people, that you want to meet and talk to, hop to it.

    Think of a few things you might have in common. What did you notice about their dress sense?

    Building Confidence

    The most important part of initiating conversation is, arguably, having confidence. It should be obvious that without any amount of self-esteem you will struggle. Having confidence in yourself and who you are makes this job very easy.

    If you find yourself doubting your worth, or how interesting you are, make a few mental notes of why you are interesting and worth talking to. There is no question you are. You just have to realize that.

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    What do I do? What is interesting about it? What are my strong points and what are my weak ones? Confident people succeed because they play on their strengths.

    Across the Room Rapport

    This is rapport building without talking. It’s as simple as reciprocated eye contact and smiles etc. Acknowledging someone else’s presence before approaching them goes a long way to making introductions easier. You are instantly no longer just a random person.

    In my other article How Not To Suck At Socializing, there are things you can do to make yourself appear approachable. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to flock to you. You’ll still probably need to initiate conversations.

    People notice other people who are having a blast. If you’re that person, someone will acknowledge it and will make the ‘across the room rapport’ building a breeze. If you’re that person that is getting along great with their present company, others will want to talk to you. This will make your approach more comfortable for both parties.

    The Approach

    When it comes to being social, the less analytical and formulaic you are the better. Try not to map out your every move and plan too much. Although we are talking about how to initiate conversation, these are really only tips. When it comes to the approach, though, there are some things you should keep in mind.

    Different situations call for different approaches. Formal situations call for something more formal and relaxed ones should be relaxed.

    At a work function, for instance, be a little formal and introduce yourself. People will want to know who you are and what you do right away. This isn’t to say you should only talk about work, but an introduction and handshake is appropriate.

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    If you’re at a bar, then things are very different and you should be much more open to unstructured introductions. Personally, I don’t like the idea of walking directly to someone to talk to them. It’s too direct. I like the sense of randomness that comes with meeting new people.

    However, if there is rapport already established, go for it. If not, take a wander, buy a drink and be aware of where people are. If there is someone you would like to talk to, make yourself available and not sit all night etc.

    When someone is alone and looks bored, do them a favor and approach them. No matter how bad the conversation might get, they should at least appreciate the company and friendliness.

    Briefly, Approaching Groups

    When integrating with an established group conversation, there is really one thing to know. That is to establish the ‘leader’ and introduce yourself to them. I mentioned that before, but here is how and why.

    The why is the leader of a group conversation is probably the more social and outgoing. They will more readily accept your introduction and then introduce you to the rest of the group. This hierarchy in a group conversation is much more prevalent in formal situations where one person is leading the conversation.

    A group of friends out for the night is much more difficult to crack. This may even be another topic for discussion, but one thing I know that works is initiating conversation with a ‘stray’. It sounds predatorial, but it works.

    More often than not, this occurs without intention. But if you do really want to get into a group of friends, your best bet is approaching one of them while they are away from the group and being invited into the group.

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    It is possible, like everything, to approach a group outright and join them. However, this is almost an art and requires another specific post.

    Topics Of Conversation

    Other than confidence, the next thing people who have trouble initiating conversations lack is conversation! So here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

    • Small talk sucks. It’s boring and a lot of people already begin to zone out when questions like, “What do you do?” or “What’s with this weather?” come up. Just skip it.
    • Everything is fair game. If you are in the company of someone and a thought strikes you, share it. “This drink is garbage! What are you drinking?” “Where did you get that outfit?”
    • Opinions matter. This is any easy way to hit the ground running in conversation. Everyone has one, and when you share yours, another will reveal itself. The great thing about this line of thought is that you are instantly learning about the other person and what they like, dislike etc.
    • Environment. The place you’re in is full of things to comment on. The DJ, band, fashions; start talking about what you see.
    • Current events. Unless it’s something accessible or light-hearted, forget it. Don’t launch into your opinion on the war or politics. If your town has recently hosted a festival, ask what they think about it.

    Exiting Conversation

    Although I’d like to write a full post on exiting strategies for conversations you don’t want to be in, here are some tips:

    • The first thing is don’t stay in a conversation you’re not interested in. It’ll show and will be no fun for anyone.
    • Be polite and excuse yourself. You’re probably out with friends, go back to them.  Or buy a drink. Most people will probably want to finish the conversation as much as you.

    Likewise, you could start another conversation.

    If you’d like to learn more tips about starting a conversation, this guide maybe useful for you: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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