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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 February 18, 2019

                                          How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                                          How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                                          These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

                                          58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

                                          Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

                                          “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                                          So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

                                          Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

                                          1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

                                          The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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                                          Encourage Your Employees

                                          When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

                                          Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

                                          Offer Rewards

                                          Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

                                          The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

                                          Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

                                          Give Autonomy

                                          Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

                                          Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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                                          Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

                                          2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

                                          I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

                                          Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

                                          For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

                                          We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

                                          Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

                                          A To Do Scheduling System

                                          Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

                                          The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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                                          I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

                                          With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

                                          Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

                                          3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

                                          The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

                                          “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

                                          An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

                                          What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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                                          Ask If They like What They’re Doing

                                          If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

                                          There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

                                          “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

                                          Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

                                          For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

                                          Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

                                          More Resources About Team Management

                                          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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