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My Life Hack Philosophy

My Life Hack Philosophy

I saw a trackback to my post, Bank Robbery, which talks about ways in which time gets frittered away, never to be recovered. The response was kind of interesting, especially when you take into account the tags of “pathologies” and “ocd.” It’s caused me to give some consideration to what the whole life hacking thing means to me (so thanks, Soda Water!), and as such, I thought I’d share. The goal, as with everything, is to get discussion going and see what people think, and how they relate as well.

Disclaimer: This is Chris Brogan’s viewpoint, not founder and site owner Leon Ho. I’ll let Leon have his own swing at this.

Target Market

In my own case, I got involved with attempts to hack my life when I realized that I had too many things to do, and not enough hours to do them. (I believe that’s the target audience for life hacks, by the way: folks who have too much to do, and need ways to organize). There are two ways to approach that problem: find shortcuts for things that take too much time or effort, or find ways to reclaim time from activities that waste it. Lifehacks.org attempts to cover both angles, as well as some peripheral things.

Simply, I’m my own target market.

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The Meat

When I settle in to write a Life Hack post, I aim for things that help me use time better, improve my life, navigate tricky situations, or remind me to appreciate life. I have three methods for writing posts: one is to surf news feeds and other sites, which is how I find out about software that might prove helpful. The second is to receive tips from people (and you guys are great at sharing by sending mail to tips at lifehack.org). Finally, I write about things that either bit my ass, bug me so bad that I have to write about them, or that I’ve experienced and think you might find helpful for your own life.

Those third ones, where it comes from my gut, are the ones I love the most, because I can at least claim that I’ve had positive results from that.

The meat of life hacking, to me, is any tip or thought that I take away from this site and find ways to apply to my life repeatably.

A La Carte (or as the French say, “Just take something and move on!”)

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If someone is actively using all the advice on this site, I feel for you. You are either the most advanced life form in the world, or you’ve got plenty of extra cycles in your head to determine how this stuff should all fit together. I imagine folks are more like me: you get the RSS feed, stream along, find something that whets your mental whistle, and you try it out. You read it, think about it, write about it, and then decide if you can really make it fit into your day. Maybe we’re hitting 1 for 7 with you. Maybe better or worse, depending on your needs.

Who Reads Lifehack.org?

From trackbacks, I’m always surprised who references stuff from Lifehack.org. You probably can guess that geeks and techies like us. Well, sure! Project managers and productivity experts read our stuff. But we’re also getting plenty of trackback love from religious groups (of lots of variety), from parents spilling over from the Parent Hacks crowd (podcast tonight or tomorrow features Asha Dornfest, founder of Parent Hacks, by the way).

Who are you? Why do you read it?

Value Chain Disaggregation

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Thomas Friedman talks about “value chain disaggregation” in THE WORLD IS FLAT. (I’ve written about it based on his book, too.) The premise is that one must distill the core essence of the value he or she brings to a situation (or role, or product, or family) and then find ways to “farm out” the parts that aren’t the most important. In a way, it’s like Covey’s “What Matters Most” philosophy. Habit 2. To me, life hacking is a lot about finding ways to get the bull—- out of my life so I have more time to enjoy the best parts.

If I’m fierce with my time management, it means I’ll have more time to enjoy other aspects of my life. Time not wasted means I can then have more time to spend with my kids, my wife, or my personal projects (most of which eat lots of time to stay upright). So, on one side being picky and anal means having more time to do what matters most to me. Make sense?

Make it Easy

Finally, I prefer “easy” to difficult. I like WriteBoard over MS Word. I like Macs over Windows. Why? Because I just like things to work and then I want to do my own thing over them. I just read a hack at Lifehacker for adding tennis balls to sharp corners in one’s house when one has toddlers around. That’s so easy and yet, it would save me the issues my son will soon be facing. See? Easy.

Another easy thing I somehow never learned: on Windows, on a 3-button mouse, clicking the scroll wheel (which makes web browsing so easy, by the way), I can open links in new tabs under Firefox. Click the tab with the same wheel? I can close the tab. Easy. But I never knew until I read it as part of a post on a life hacking site. Saving the planet? Hardly. But it sure makes surfing nicer.

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Lots of what we cover here at Lifehack.org hopefully makes it easier to live your life in one way or another. It might just be a software application we think will get your stuff in order. It might be a post about giving presentations, or how to negotiate a raise, or how to better pack the car for a vacation. Whatever the case, we’re trying to make it easier to live your life.

Your Platform

I participated in July4US yesterday. It was a celebration of the new media versus older mainstream media. Blogs, podcasts, videocasts, that kind of thing. Lifehack.org qualifies. What I found through my experience in the event was this: what I love most about participating in the new media is that it’s a conversation instead of a bullhorn. The audience is every bit as welcome to participate as the publishers. It’s the kind of thing where people can contribute and FEEL their contributions come back to them, closing the loop.

Leon has a wiki. He has comments turned on. He has a message board. You couldn’t be in much more contact than that. He’s built Lifehack.org with the audience (that’s YOU) to be first and foremost in everything he does. Believe me. When I approached him with wanting to do a podcast, the first thing he asked about (and the only thing he ever questions) is how the audience will participate, how it will blend with the reader experience, etc.

Sure, I’m flag waiving here. But I think this is every bit as much my life hack philosophy, because I use YOUR tips and ideas in my day as well. Most of you who comment have found out (sometimes to your surprise) that if you leave a valid email address in your comment, I’ll usually reply with a personal note. I’m not doing this to drum up business. I’m doing this often to thank people for their participation in Lifehack.org. Without you, there is no reason to do this.

I think I’ll hop off the soapbox now, and give you a chance to weigh in. Talk, if you would in the comments section, about YOUR experience and your philosophy. I’d like to listen.

–Chris Brogan pontificates equally often at [chrisbrogan.com]. His July4US project is at Grasshopper Factory.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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