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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 August 21, 2018

                                          8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                          8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                          You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                                          Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                                          When you train your brain, you will:

                                          • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                                          • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. Hello promotion, here I come!
                                          • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. No, thanks Alzheimer’s; you and I are just not a good fit.

                                          So how to train your brain to learn faster and remember more?

                                          1. Work your memory

                                          Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                                          When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                                          If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                                          The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                                          Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                                          Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                                          What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                                          For example, say you just met someone new.

                                          “Hi, my name is George”

                                          Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.” Got it? Good.

                                          2. Do something different repeatedly

                                          By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                                          Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                                          It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

                                          And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

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                                          But how does this apply to your life right now?

                                          Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                                          Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                                          Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                                          So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                                          You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                                          That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                                          3. Learn something new

                                          It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

                                          For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

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                                          Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                                          You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                                          4. Follow a brain training program

                                          The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                                          5. Work your body

                                          You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                                          Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                                          Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                                          Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                                          6. Spend time with your loved ones

                                          If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

                                          If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

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                                          I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                                          7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                                          Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                                          Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                                          Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                                          8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                                          Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                                          When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                                          So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                                          Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                                          Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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