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20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified)

20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified)

Life hacks bring the promise of making life easier, faster, and cheaper. It’s a great idea that has been widely adopted. Like any movement, some ideas are more promising and useful than others. In this post, I’ll walk you through 20 popular life hacks from around the Internet. You’ll learn which ones are worth your effort and which to ignore.

Popular Life Hacks to Save Money

Saving money and stretching your dollar is the objective of many popular life hacks. It’s an admirable impulse in many respects—cutting expenses frees up money for investing and debt repayment. Unfortunately, some money-saving life hacks aren’t worth the effort (unless you have more free time than you know what to do with).

1. The Cufflinks Hack

The Emergency Cufflinks Lifehack

    Wearing a French-cuffs dress shirt is a great experience. For novices, selecting the right cuff links can be an expensive affair—cuff links available through Brooks Brothers range from $10 to over $500 for packages. What if you lose your cuff links or can’t find them? The life hack community suggests that paper clips can be used as “emergency cuff links”.

    In my view, the “paper clip as cuff links” life hack has two problems. First, many people will silently wonder at your confused approach to dress: you have the style to wear a good dress shirt and then undermine the effect with improvised cuff links. Second, improvised cuff links undermine one of the chief benefits of putting on formal clothes—to feel like your best. If you cannot find your cuff links at home, it is best to switch to a different shirt.

    Verdict: Debunked!

    2. Vodka As Sticker Remover

    Vodka as Cleaner

      Removing stickers and other unwanted materials from your glasses and other items is a pain. I have certainly gone through the process of trying to remove these by hand. It’s an exercise in frustration!

      This vodka life hack is simple. Pour vodka over a sticker you want to remove and then hope the alcohol makes it easier to remove the sticker. Unfortunately, this life hack fails for two reasons. First, vodka is much more expensive than actual household cleaning products. Second, items cleaned with alcohol may have an unwelcome smell.

      Verdict: Debunked!

      3. Plastic Bottle With Holes Watering Life Hack

      Plastic Bottle For Watering Plants

        Have you ever been assigned the task of watering someone’s plants? If you’re taking care of a friend’s house, this can be a challenging task. After all, they may not have explained where they keep all their plant-care-related equipment. Yes, there is a life hack to address this challenge.

        Start with an empty water bottle. Next, poke a few holes in the lid. Then fill the bottle with water. Finally, turn the bottle upside down and watch the water pour out. While water will come out, it is very difficult to aim the water. In fact, you may get water all over yourself if you’re not careful. If you find yourself using the life hack more than a few times, then you owe it to yourself to get proper plant-watering equipment.

        Verdict: Conditional Pass (works best with outside or balcony plants)

        4. More Ketchup Life Hack

        Ketchup Life Hack

          Going out for burgers and fries? From time to time, that’s a fun meal. Especially if you try one of the gourmet burger places that are becoming more common. Once you sit down, you quickly use all the ketchup you could carry in your paper container.

          This simple life hack increases the capacity of those paper ketchup containers. Gently stretch out the rim so that the top of the container is wider. This life hack means fewer trips back to the condiments area. So you’ve saved time. (And time is money!)

          Verdict: Verified

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          5. Eliminate In-Apartment Laundry Life Hack

          The Laundry Machine Life Hack Saves You Money

            To attract tenants, some apartment buildings offer laundry machines directly in the apartment. No doubt, this is a great convenience.Cleaning is a lot easier when you don’t have to carry everything down to a laundry room. According to Forbes, this life hack can add $50-$100 per month to your monthly rent. That’s an expensive amenity.

            By asking a few questions and shopping around for apartments with a close eye on amenities, you can save several hundred dollars per year. This extra money can make the difference in getting you out of debt faster (or finally putting some cash in your investment accounts).

            Verdict: Verified

            6. Automate Contributions to Investment Accounts

            Automate Your Investments and Get On With Your Life

              Automating key aspects of your finances is one of the most important lessons of Ramit Sethi’s book and his website, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. For example, your employer may offer retirement benefits but will only do so if you take action to start an account and fill in a few forms. Yes, this is a bureaucratic hassle and may involve a few phone calls and forms. Taking these actions will dramatically improve your financial situation over the years.

              The best part? Once a month, you can check your accounts and watch the balances increase over time.

              Verdict: Verified

              Popular Life Hacks For House and Home

              The quality of our home life is a major contributor to our happiness. The better you maintain your home, the easier daily life is to manage. Consider the following household life hacks. You can learn something from each one, even the debunked ones.

              7. Cold Brew on A Budget: Cooling Beer With Household Air Conditioning

              Cold Beer Life Hack

                Enjoying a cold beverage on a hot summer day is one of the great pleasures of life. In an ideal world, you may keep a few beers (or your beverage of choice) stocked in your refrigerator. If you run out of space in your fridge, you may be want to try the “cold brew on a budget” life hack.

                This technique requires holding a beer next to an air conditioning unit, using hangers or tape to keep the beer in place. While this approach may work, it is deeply flawed. Let’s consider this doomed to fail life hack. The likelihood of the beer falling off and smashing on the floor is simply too high for my liking. Instead, putting your beer in the freezer for 15 minutes is a better solution. If you have no freezer or ice available, going out for ice or a drink at a bar is a better option.

                Verdict: Debunked!

                8. Cable Management Hack

                Computer Cable Life Hack

                  Over the years, many of us gradually accumulate more electronics. Once you have a computer, a printer, and mobile devices in place, you will start to feel overwhelmed with cables. Even worse, you might lose a critical cable behind your desk—a huge pain if that means you can’t charge your favorite device.

                  Fortunately, there is a low-cost life hack to the rescue—binder clips as cable catchers. By using binder clips, you can easily keep your cables organized. Of course, you may have problems finding paper clips the right size for your desk. A search on Amazon found over 25,000 binder clips for sale available: you ought to be able to find something that meets your needs.

                  Verdict: Verified.

                  9. Binder Clips for Toothpaste

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                  Toothpaste Life Hack With Binder Clip

                    Gettign that last bit of toothpaste out is a pain. Before you toss those out, try this simple and successful life hack. Use binder clips to force the remaining toothpaste out of the tube. For the best results, use a new and strong binder clip.

                    Verdict: Verified

                    10. Find Your Cellphone At Your Apartment With This Website

                    where is my cell phone

                      Losing your cellphone—especially if it is a smartphone!—is a distressing experience. After a few moments of searching, you may start to mentally calculate how much it will cost to replace and whether you have all your data backed up. Before you throw in the towel and give up, try a website like Where’s My Cell Phone. Simply enter your phone number, click “Make It Ring” and then listen carefully.

                      Tip: If you left your phone set to vibrate mode, you may need to attempt this life hack a few times. For best results, carry your laptop with you and make several calls. It is possible to hear a phone “rings” on vibration mode though it does take more work.

                      Verdict: Verified

                      Life Hacks For Work

                      Ever since the Pareto Principle became popular, more and more people are looking for ways to make their work life easier. That’s one of the reasons there are so many life hacks designed for cubicle life. Some of these ideas look more like hobbies to pass the time on a quiet Friday afternoon. It all depends on your perspective and your organization’s culture.

                      11. Kill The Snooze Button Habit With Alarm Clock Hacks, Gentle & Harsh Editions

                      Alarm Clock With Pins Life Hack

                        Sleeping in can kill your career. For many of us, sleep habits make or break our success (leadership expert Karin Hurt points out the value of getting there early for your career). When you get up early, you have time to get in some reading or exercise. In contrast, when you sleep in, you tend to feel rushed and almost feel like a victim. Consider the following life hacks for the alarm clock if you’re having trouble getting up in time:

                        The Gentle Alarm Clock Life Hack: Put the alarm at least ten feet away so you have to get out of bed when it goes off. The act of getting up on your feet can make the difference.

                        The Harsh Alarm Clock Life Hack: Tape a row of thumb tacks, pins facing up, on to the alarm clock. This scary solution might help – though you might want to keep some bandages near by, just in case.

                        Verdict: Verified

                        12. Clip Based Coffee Cup Holder

                        Desk Side Coffee Holder Life Hack

                          Keeping your coffee supply in good order is important to many in their working lives. Just ask anyone who has spilled coffee on important notes (or even worse – a signed contract!). This life hack suggests that you can use a large clip as a portable coffee cup holder. It can be a great way to save space. Of course, details matter a great deal here. For this life hack to work, you need to find a robust cup holder and carefully choose the right location.

                          Verdict: Conditional Pass (depends on location and cup holder quality)

                          13. Organize Pens and Pencils with Corkboard

                          Pen and Pencil Organizer Life Hack

                            Like it or not, most offices are still years away from eliminating paper documents. Until that day arrives, you need systems and tools to keep pens and pencils on hand. In addition to reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen (you HAVE read it, haven’t you?), the right office equipment helps.

                            For this life hack, you start with a half dozen circle shaped cork board. Then you drill small pen size holes in the top. At first, you may think that this life hack may not hold that many pens. But how many do you really need on hand? We’re not trying to increase clutter after all.

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                            Verdict: Verified

                            14. Create A Laptop Stand With A Binder

                            Laptop Stand With Binder Life Hack

                              Do you work on a computer all day? Is that computer a laptop? If so, you are probably looking down all day. That means a great deal of strain on your neck. Fortunately, you can solve that problem easily. Look around your desk for an old three ring binder. Voilà! Your laptop is now at eye level and your neck strain problems will rapidly decrease.

                              Verdict: Verified

                              15. Post-It Keyboard Cleaner Life Hack

                              Clean Laptop With Post It Note Life Hack

                                Post-It Notes have all kinds of uses. You can use them as a simple bookmark (fold the sticky side in). You can also use them to write down reminders (“File that TPS report!”). My favorite life hack for Post-It Notes is to use the sticky side to clean up your keyboard. If your office is filled with Post-It Notes, this could be a good solution. Think before you use this life hack – you don’t want to become known as the eccentric who wastes wasting office supplies in strange ways.

                                Verdict: Pass

                                Technology Life Hacks

                                There are thousands of technology life hacks available on the Internet. Many of them require experience and knowledge using power tools or the careful dissembly of electronics. What if you lack those specialized skills? I’ve got you covered with these five life hacks.

                                16. Freezing Batteries To Keep In Good Condition

                                Batteries In Freezer Life Hack

                                  Batteries are a key technology in keeping our mobile lifestyle fully operational. Many LifeHack.org readers likely have several battery powered devices they use every time. It’s frustrating when those electronics run out of power – especially if you’re depending on a battery powered GPS device! What about that old idea of putting batteries in the freezer?

                                  Bad idea! Stop doing that!

                                  To quote Duracell, one of the world’s leading battery companies:

                                  We recommend storing batteries at room temperature in a dry environment. Extreme heat or cold reduces battery performance. You’ll want to avoid putting battery-powered devices in very warm places. In addition, refrigeration is not necessary or recommended.

                                  Verdict: Debunked

                                  17. Use A Password Manager

                                  Use This Life Hack To Improve Your Security

                                    Internet security is serious business. According to a 2014 US News report, hacking and computer crime costs the U.S. economy over $400 billion dollars a year. In addition, many individuals suffer hours of lost time (or worse) in recovering after their accounts are hacked. So, how do you protect uyourself? A full explanation of online security is beyond the scope of this article. However, one life hack you can use is a password manager so you can use employ hard to hack passwords.

                                    Examples of Password Managers:

                                    Verdict: Verified

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                                    18. Hack Your Commuting Boredom With Podcasts

                                    Podcast While Commuting Life Hack

                                      Do you like commuting to the office? For years, it was a tiresome task. If you drive a car, then reading a book or doing work is out of the question. If you take a train or mass transit, then you might be able to get a seat now and then. These are incomplete solutions to making use of commuting boredom. What you really need are podcasts – Internet audio and video programs on thousands of topics. You can learn about many different topics with podcasts including economics, history, marketing, sales, comedy and more.

                                      What You Need:

                                      • A MP3 Player: most smartphones can play MP3 sound files. That includes the iPhone and Android phones. You can also use a plain iPod or similar device.
                                      • Podcasts to listen to: the world’s largest and best directory of podcasts are listed in the iTunes Store, a free program you download to your computer. If you don’t have iTunes or don’t plan to use it, here are a few ideas to get you started.

                                      BBC Radio Great Lives: Produced by the BBC, I recently discoverd this series and it is excellent. You’ll learn about many different historical figures. If you enjoy biography and history, this is a great podcast.

                                      Entrepreneur on Fire: Do you want to be an entrepreneur? I have a great news for you. Seven days a week, Entrepreneur On Fire has interviews with successful entrepreneurs. You’ll find inspiration and plenty of practical ideas you use in your business.

                                      EconTalk: During the financial crisis of 2007-2009, I became fascinated with economics. The EconTalk podcast hosted by economics professor Russ Roberts contains in depth interviews on many topics of economics. If you’re tired of those 60 second soundbites about economics matters on TV, EconTalk has got you covered. (P.S. I was a history major in university and I find the podcast accessible – no math required!)

                                      19. Speed Up iPhone Recharge Time with Airplane Mode

                                      Charge-Your-Phone-While-In-Airplane-Mode

                                        Is your iPhone dead out of battery again? I’ve had this frustrating experience more than once. If often happens when I’m about to read an email or read something interesting. In an ideal world, your iPhone would only lose battery at the end of the day – then you could let recharge while you sleep.

                                        What if you need to recharge your iPhone fast? According to the Unofficial Apple Weblog, you can go from 1% to 50% charge in “Airplane Mode” in 45 minutes.

                                        Use this simple hack: turn on “Airplane Mode” (i.e. which disables ALL data functions – no email, no Internet, no phone and no messages), plug in your iPhone to a charger and charge from there.

                                        Verdict: Verified

                                        20. Limit Screen Time Before Bed

                                        A Life Hack To Improve Your Sleep By Reading A Print Book Before Bed

                                          Did you know that too much technology can be a bad for your health? Specifically, the light from computer monitors (and other devices) tells your body to stay awake. If you use your computer or TV immediately before going to bed, you will have a hard time sleeping. So, what should you do instead?

                                          Let’s see what Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and best selling author of “The 4 Hour Work Week” recommends in his article Relax Like A Pro: 5 Steps to Hacking Your Sleep:

                                          Do not read non-fiction prior to bed, which encourages projection into the future and preoccupation/planning. Read fiction that engages the imagination and demands present-state attention.

                                          Verdict: Verified

                                          Question for the comments:

                                          What life hack have you tried and had success with?

                                          Featured photo credit: Mark Thumbs Up/Nemo via pixabay.com

                                          More by this author

                                          Bruce Harpham

                                          Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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                                          Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                                          Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                                          Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                                          Do you like making mistakes?

                                          I certainly don’t.

                                          Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

                                          Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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                                          Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

                                          Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

                                          • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
                                          • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
                                          • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
                                          • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

                                          We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

                                          If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

                                          Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

                                          Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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                                          When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

                                          Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

                                          We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

                                          It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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                                          Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

                                          Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

                                          Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

                                          1. Point us to something we did not know.
                                          2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
                                          3. Deepen our knowledge.
                                          4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
                                          5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
                                          6. Inform us more about our values.
                                          7. Teach us more about others.
                                          8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
                                          9. Show us when someone else has changed.
                                          10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
                                          11. Remind us of our humanity.
                                          12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
                                          13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
                                          14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
                                          15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
                                          16. Invite us to better choices.
                                          17. Can teach us how to experiment.
                                          18. Can reveal a new insight.
                                          19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
                                          20. Can serve as a warning.
                                          21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
                                          22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
                                          23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
                                          24. Remind us how we are like others.
                                          25. Make us more humble.
                                          26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
                                          27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
                                          28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
                                          29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
                                          30. Expose our true feelings.
                                          31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
                                          32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
                                          33. Point us in a more creative direction.
                                          34. Show us when we are not listening.
                                          35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
                                          36. Can create distance with someone else.
                                          37. Slow us down when we need to.
                                          38. Can hasten change.
                                          39. Reveal our blind spots.
                                          40. Are the invisible made visible.

                                          Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

                                          The secret to handling mistakes is to:

                                          • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
                                          • Have an experimental mindset.
                                          • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

                                          When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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                                          When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

                                          It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

                                          When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

                                          Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

                                          Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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