We shared an article recently on the phenomenon and history of life hacking. That article started me thinking about the need for life hacks. Which life hacks am I employing to simplify my life or make it more efficient?
As the article explores, life hacking as a term goes back to the mid-2000s but the concept dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century and beyond, as we sought ways to wring out every last ounce of inefficiency, especially in the work place. The wisdom says that if we can find five minutes here and ten minutes there, pretty soon it all starts to add up to real time savings that we can use in other parts of our lives. Perhaps we can gain a few minutes to actually relax, for example. I would argue, however, that we are human beings and not systems or machines. I am not convinced that it is a good idea to measure and systemize everything just to realize a few minutes of time savings.
Fifty Life Hacks to Simplify Your World
The official website of life hacking (you knew there had to be one) is lifehack.org. On this site, they list fifty life hacks to simplify your world. A lot of them are common sense but they are all designed to save you seconds or even minutes in your busy life. Some are designed to help you find things that you misplace, such as keys. Personally, that would give me back quite a bit of time. Others are everyday tips to simplify and unclutter your life, ostensibly so that you can have a few more minutes to actually live and enjoy life.
Life Hack Apps
The modern version of automating tasks is to create an app. I entered “life hacking” in Google Play and there are several apps that share tips or work to organize your life. They help you set alarms, keep lists and schedules, or remind you of appointments and life events. Some scrape data from the Internet, some just help you access tools that are already on your smartphone to make you more efficient. There are apps and devices that help you track and maximize the value that you get from your sleep each night. Now we have sleep hacking! Everything is designed to make your life ultraefficient, but I worry that it is also taking some of the fun and uncertainty out of life.
I understand the need for life hacking tools. We are all crazy busy and our work lives and personal lives often have melded into one continuous stream. It is sometimes hard to tell where one stops and the other begins. I would like to suggest that instead of hacking every aspect of our being, we put on the brakes once in a while and just be. Sit in a chair in the sunshine and do nothing. Reflect on the wonders of nature or the success that you have attained in life as opposed to worrying about the next minute, the next meeting, and the next assignment. I think that will do as much to recharge your system as any life hack. The world will still be there when you come back and most likely will not have missed you as much as you think. We thrive on being busy and accomplishing incredible tasks, but when was the last time you really relaxed? There is real power and real health benefits in shutting down occasionally, even for just a few minutes.
When was the last time you stopped your world for some time out? Do you have one favorite life hack that affords you those few moments to do just that?
Let me know your thoughts.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.