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Year in Review: The 70 Best Lifehacks of 2007

Year in Review: The 70 Best Lifehacks of 2007
The 70 Best Lifehacks of 2007

2007 was a great year for personal productivity at lifehack.org! We’ve added more than a dozen new writers, who have brought new perspectives, new topics, and most importantly new hacks and tips to our virtual pages. 

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If you want to be more productive in the New Year, take a look at these 70 best lifehacks of 2007 now, and subscribe to our feed so you don’t miss any of the great advice and information to come in the year ahead. These were the most popular posts of the last year, based on their popularity, your comments, and links from other sites. As 2007 winds down, invest some of your time and read them all. Or bookmark this page and make reading them one of your New Year resolutions.

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Networking and Communication

  1. How Not To Suck At Socializing – Do’s & Don’ts
  2. How To Initiate Conversation
  3. Using Compliments To Control Communication
  4. How To Exit A Conversation
  5. How to Cut Crutch Words When Giving a Speech

Writing and Studying

  1. Advice for Students: 10 Steps Toward Better Research
  2. Advice for students: Beware of thesaurus
  3. Advice for Students: How to Write Research Papers that Rock!
  4. Advice for Students: Taking Notes that Work
  5. How To Study
  6. How to study with a full-time job
  7. How to Take Notes like Thomas Edison
  8. Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips
  9. Design Better with CRAP
  10. How to punctuate a sentence

Productivity, Creativity, and Motivation

  1. 11 Tips for Nuking Laziness Without Becoming a Workaholic
  2. 20 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time
  3. 50 Ways To Increase Your Productivity
  4. 6 Rules to Work Less and Get More Accomplished
  5. How to Become a Creative Genius
  6. How to Boost Your Creative Output
  7. How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
  8. Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials
  9. The Top 4 Misapplications of the 80/20 Rule
  10. Thirteen Tricks to Motivate Yourself

Leadership, Work, and Money

  1. Hack Your Boss
  2. Lead, Follow, and Get Out of the Way
  3. Bringing More Efficiency When You Work from Home
  4. Why One Partner Needs to Go Out and Work
  5. How to Live on a Tight Budget

Body and Mind

  1. 10 Unconventional Diet Tips: How to lose 50 pounds in three months
  2. 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)
  3. The Secret to a Healthy Body
  4. 13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising
  5. Power Napping: How To Fall Asleep Anywhere
  6. 7 Stupid Thinking Errors You Probably Make
  7. Your Brain is Not Your Friend
  8. Three More Reasons Why Your Brain is Not Your Friend
  9. Nine Brain Quirks You Didn’t Realize You Had
  10. Writing and Remembering: Why We Remember What We Write

Software and Technology

  1. 10 Free Ways to Track All Your Passwords
  2. 10 Smart Hacks for Google Reader
  3. 5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good
  4. Beginner’s Guide: Run Linux like any other program in Windows
  5. Beginner’s Guide: Start a blog, get 100,000 page views and make over $100 your first month
  6. How to Survive as the Family Tech Support Guy (or Gal)
  7. Top 10 Firefox Extensions to Improve your Productivity
  8. Top 10 Greasemonkey scripts to improve your productivity
  9. Top 10 Ways to Use del.icio.us
  10. 9 Ways to Get More Out of Windows Live Writer

Family, Home, and Life

  1. Things I wish I’d known when I was younger
  2. Getting Rid of Yesterday: How to Start Your Day Fresh
  3. Hacking Church: How to attend service 52 weeks in a row
  4. How to raise the odds that it’s going to be a fantastic day
  5. My 7 Year-Old Son’s Life List
  6. The 7 Energy Sinkholes (and How to Avoid Them)
  7. The Seven Essential “Stations” Every Home Should Have
  8. Throw a lifeline to your future.
  9. Why being yourself matters
  10. Why Your Free Time is Boring

Success

  1. Success Lessons Most People Know But Too Few Follow
  2. The Ten Videos to Change How You View the World
  3. 10 Reasons You Aren’t Achieving Success
  4. How to Find Your Passion
  5. To Be Motivated and Successful, First Forget How You Feel
  6. 10 MORE ways to create a breakthrough in your life.
  7. 10 simple ways to save yourself from messing up your life
  8. 10 virtually instant ways to improve your life
  9. 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick
  10. How to Set an Appointment With Yourself

Were there any other posts that you enjoyed which haven’t mentioned here? Was there anything you learned here that changed your approach to work, family, or life in general? Let us know in the comments!

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Finally, let’s take a moment to recognize all the contributors whose incredible work in 2007 made lifehack.org a must-read resource for personal development:

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  • Lifehack.org Staff: Leon Ho, Scott Young, Craig Childs, and Dustin Wax
  • Contributors: Reginald Adkins, Marco Adragna, Brian Armstrong, Leo Babauta, Chris Brogan, Lawrence Cheok, Tony Clark, Rob Crawford, Raj Dash, Jonathan Fields, Lisa Gates, Brett Kelly, Donald Latumahina, Michael Leddy, Shane Magee, Rowan Manahan, Rory Marinich, Lorie Marrero, Tatsuya Nakagawa, Tom O’Leary, Tejvan Pettinger, Kyle Pott, Vishal Rao, Gleb Reys, Kim Roach, Susan Sabo, Adrian Savage, Rosa Say, Nick Senzee, Alex Shalman, Pamela Skillings, Mike St. Pierre , K. Stone, George Tee, Bob Walsh, and Rob Witham

Thanks to all of them, and to all the lifehack.org readers who have made lifehack.org successful.  We wish you all a happy, healthy, and productive 2008!

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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