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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 September 28, 2020

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

Here are some study tips to help get you started:

1. Use Flashcards

Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

As Tony Robbins says,

“Repetition is the mother of skill”.

2. Create the Right Environment

Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

4. Listen to Music

Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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5. Rewrite Your Notes

This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

6. Engage Your Emotions

Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

7. Make Associations

One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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