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Confessions of a recovering lifehacker
May 23, 2012 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I used to be a lifehacking addict [...] But sometime over the last couple years (around the time I turned 30, not coincidentally), it has begun to dawn on me: Maybe all the time I spend looking for better ways to do things is keeping me from, well, doing things.
Confessions of a recovering lifehacker
posted by Foci for Analysis (64 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a great idea for a blog that helps people take control of their lives by identifying possible efficiencies that end up complicating things more than they help. I'm going to call it Lifehackinghacker. Don't steal it.
posted by ardgedee at 1:29 PM on May 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


You see this all over Android forums. Someone wants to jack with their phone or tablet just because it's possible, and there may be some small potential gain in some area. Meanwhile, they hardly ever do anything with the device other than continually flash someone's modded ROM.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on May 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.

-- Knuth
posted by pwnguin at 1:31 PM on May 23, 2012 [24 favorites]


Fascinating because I'm pretty much the opposite. If there's a way around the latest learning curve, I tend to seek it out, and only give up once it way over-complicates things. Speaking of which, I now have roughly 40,000 mp3 files that need to be properly tagged.
posted by philip-random at 1:31 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, they hardly ever do anything with the device other than continually flash someone's modded ROM.

Dude, have you seen Android? That's the only way to keep one step ahead of insanity.
posted by zippy at 1:32 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


sometimes when I start hearing about all these better ways to do things and how you could improve your improvement, etc. I start feeling like I am drowning in guilt because there is shit that should be hacked, and the hacking must also be hacked and so on.

It may just be me and my weird propensity to feel guilty about everything, but I have never been as happy as I was the day I decided to be a mediocre moron.
posted by Tarumba at 1:32 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's like the halting problem for people.
posted by phrontist at 1:35 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


God, there was this great, big New Yorker article about the efficiency fads during the first half of the 20th century and how miniscule improvements to efficiency don't help and I cannot for the life of me find it.
posted by griphus at 1:36 PM on May 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Technically, the opposite of lifehacker is lifeslacker.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:36 PM on May 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


My SO is an optomizer, if it can be done better, it will be done better, even if it takes six hours of extra work that could be spent doing something, anything else.

I'm on the other end, I make things as fun as possible cause otherwise I will stop doing them cause I have the self-discipline of a kitten on whippets. I can perfectly happy with a sloppy system if it means I don't have to enter spreadsheets or chart things or god I'm getting bored just typing it.

It wasn't until I groked that over-engineering and optomizing IS him having fun that I started to be a better partner about it.

We compromise in making detailed walking maps so we never retrace our steps on any errand.
posted by The Whelk at 1:38 PM on May 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


Shouldn't this post be titled, "Over-optimizing? Here are 30 great alternatives to lifehacking"?
posted by Cash4Lead at 1:40 PM on May 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Unexpected DFW mention there. Nice. Our attention spans are the holy grail of work, of advertising, of relationships--what we give our attentions to matters deeply. The saddest part to me is that these archaic cubicle jobs exist, these jobs that require our attention to be focused on Microsoft Outlook or Excel or some other demonic thing. Hack my life indeed.
posted by mattbucher at 1:41 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I used to be a bit of a lifehacking blog addict. I'd spend hours reading the various GTD, lifehacking, improve-your-life-through-optimization blogs. Rarely would I actually Get Things DoneTM. I realize that I wasn't optimizing my life and stopped reading the damn things. That was the biggest productivity boost of all.
posted by asnider at 1:42 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


God, there was this great, big New Yorker article about the efficiency fads during the first half of the 20th century and how miniscule improvements to efficiency don't help and I cannot for the life of me find it.

I'm almost sure you're thinking of this Jill Lepore piece from 2009.
posted by theodolite at 1:42 PM on May 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm with him; designing a reminder system with arbitrary rules and categories seems a lot more complicated than writing everything down and remembering it as best I can.

However, he loses me a little on point #3 (The least possible [practical] amount of organization is best.) He cites a silverware drawer in which nothing is organized, which saves him time from over-organizing. My counterpoint is that disorder and unpredictability can be a mental strain (an unpredictable environment is one of the best ways to stress out a human.) His silverware chaos would drive me nuts; if I'm cooking and need a fork to check something, I want to know where that fork is, because an additional 30 seconds of heat could screw up my food. So, if I have to wash a fork, my entire recipe could go to hell because something is burnt or overcooked.

I think he goes too far there, but overall it's a good article against over-maximizing.

(Maybe the moral of the story is I need more forks.)
posted by Turkey Glue at 1:44 PM on May 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm almost sure you're thinking of this Jill Lepore piece from 2009.

Yes, that's it, thank you! Also, it's from 2009? I think I may have become unstuck in time, again.
posted by griphus at 1:44 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


A young programmer came to the Master brow furrowed.

"Master," he said, "I am troubled. There are many text editors, each with different commands and features. It is impossible to decide which to use."

The Master, sitting crosslegged, did not look up from his keyboard.

"And how would you solve this problem, young programmer?"

The disciple's face lit up.

"Master, I would invent a new text editor, powerful and easy to use, and with all the featu-"

The young programmer got no further for, in one smooth motion, the Master rose and broke his keyboard over his disciple's head.

"I do not wish to learn to use another text editor" he said.

And in that instant the young programmer was enlightened.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:45 PM on May 23, 2012 [100 favorites]


I'm almost sure you're thinking of this Jill Lepore piece from 2009.
------------
Yes, that's it, thank you! Also, it's from 2009? I think I may have become unstuck in time, again.


You obviously need to optimize the tagging system for your Found Articles bookmarks.
posted by The Deej at 1:46 PM on May 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


A friend suggested that all of the time I spent making plans and logging data in myFitnessPal and Health Month was just busywork keeping my brain occupied and distracted from things that really matter. I thought maybe they were right so I freed myself from that distraction and and have gained 7 pounds.

Around the time I turned 40 I realized that life was short and responsibilities were big and complex enough that there was a need for variety attenuation -- maybe at 30 the tools can be pretty distracting (I'll admit to that), but at this point if they were the things keeping me from, well, doing things they would be out. And at 40 I am not forgetting things because they are "boring tedious or annoying," I am just flat out forgetting shit. This is my insight that brought clarity, and I will be back on Health Month next month -- the newly freed time is not worth the tighter shirts, summer is coming.
posted by cgk at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Lifehacker, n., Any individual who can use the terms "wipe my ass" and "best practices" in the same sentence without any sense of irony or humorous intent.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:48 PM on May 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Ahhh, this article was excellent! Thanks for posting :) I know that I try to "hack" too much (his comments about making all the devices sync really spoke to me). I really need to start focusing on the people who are really important.
posted by rebent at 1:48 PM on May 23, 2012


But what if on my death bed I realize that my habits have cost me precious minutes from my life, minutes I could have spent optimizing my habits?
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:49 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't read Lifehacker (etc.) because I want to find ways to "optimize" my life, whatever the bloody hell that means. I read it to discover tips and information that I didn't know about before, i.e., I read it to educate myself. I don't see anything particularly laughable (ironically or not) about that. But if it's mockable, so be it.
posted by blucevalo at 1:53 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your best practices aren't good enough to wipe my ass with, Thorzdad!
posted by jacalata at 1:53 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You obviously need to optimize the tagging system for your Found Articles bookmarks.

I was born with a magazine rack in the bathroom and I'll die with a magazine rack in the bathroom.
posted by griphus at 1:59 PM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Evernote taxonomy.

Two words that say I need to get out more.
posted by bright cold day at 2:00 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will confess to that browsing Lifehacker has become an increasingly nauseating experience over the last few years.

At first, it had utterly indispensable tips about little-known software shortcuts, better ways to cook common things, in-depth explanations of different services, and so on. Lately it is nothing but "Don't piss off your boss on a sick day by sending real-time vital health statistics to a synched dropbox account!" or something similar. This is the latest, saddest example of that....

I'll also 2nd the Android forums thing. I have a shitty phone and for a brief while I was running three overclocked, deoxed, streamlines ROMs off of various backups. After about a month I just got a new fucking phone.....
posted by lattiboy at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will confess to that browsing Lifehacker has become an increasingly nauseating experience over the last few years.

The best advice Lifehacker can offer - "shut off as many distractions as possible and concentrate on what is important to you" - is directly at odds with any business model that relies on advertisements. Like, say, their own.
posted by mhoye at 2:05 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Worksop (noun): A person who never actually gets round to doing anything because he spends all his time writing out lists headed 'Things to Do (Urgent)'.
 — The Meaning of Liff.
posted by scruss at 2:07 PM on May 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


I have the self-discipline of a kitten on whippets

Something like this?
posted by zippy at 2:08 PM on May 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


bright cold day: "Evernote taxonomy.

Two words that say I need to get out more.
"

Or that you don't use Evernote the way I do -- trusting their awesome search capability.

I used to try to separate everything into notebooks and properly tag them.

Now I've got one for work projects (which I do tag -- because somebody's paying me to do it), one for my personal writing projects, and one for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) else.

I'll never understand the need to keep on optimizing once you have a system that works for you, but I'll also never understand the impulse to tell others that they are doing it wrong. For example, I know that I don't have to track my spending to the cent in each category to be responsible -- but if I don't do it to that kooky level of detail, I'm irresponsible. It's not logical, but it's the thing that works for me. I wouldn't recommend it, and I can understand, like those who suggested cgk was wasting time, it that might seem pointless from the outside. But it's what I have to do to make things work.

Likewise, I'll probably die with a closet full of legal pads with To Do lists. But if I don't have them, nothing would have got done along the way.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:13 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: the self-discipline of a kitten on whippUPVOTEALLTHETHINGSOPENANOTERHTABGETTHELASERPOINTERDOT!!!!
posted by Reverend John at 2:14 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the latest, saddest example of that....

For me it was the article that essentially said: "If you freeze food, it will last longer!" Alas, I can't find the exact article. There are a few others related to freezing food, which aren't so blatantly obvious and lazy, but the specific one to which I'm referring is defeating my Google Fu.
posted by asnider at 2:14 PM on May 23, 2012


Wait, is Lifehacker the reason the awful phrase "best practices" migrated from bullshitmanagementspeak to common parlance? If so, it has a lot to answer for.
posted by neroli at 2:15 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Backlash against Google, backlash against Lifehacker. What has this world become.
posted by frenetic at 2:27 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]



But if [LifeHacker is] mockable, so be it.


I think he's a little overexcited with his epiphany, and wants to distance himself from his old habits. He is projecting them onto the Lifehacker site. Or blaming Lifehacker for them. In doing so, he seems to be equating "lifehacking" (and therefore hacking) to over-optimization, which is wrong.
posted by yath at 2:27 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


McMikeNamara: "... you don't use Evernote the way I do -- trusting their awesome search capability."

Oh, I tried the one-notebook-and-tags-plus-search system and it just. didn't. work. for me. (YMMV, and more power to you.) I'm not far off what you're doing - work, writing projects, household etc. - but it's the "everything else" bucket (~90% of the notes) that worries me.
posted by bright cold day at 2:33 PM on May 23, 2012


One of the biggest steps in my adult life was admitting to myself that I was not getting stuff done as efficiently as I should be. That's when I turned to the whole GTD/lifehack world and became obsessed with finding the perfect system to become an unstoppable efficiency machine.

The next major step came when I realized that there is no perfect system and I was wasting a lot of time rehashing the same few ideas and concepts that kept turning up over and over - each time presented with just a slight variation. It took a bit to convince myself that I already had the tools I needed, but once I broke that "I will find the magic efficiency cure-all" cycle things sort of took care of themselves. I still visit those sites a bit and pick up little helpful tips and get a reminder of a tweak I had forgotten or let slip, but I don't obsess over them anymore. For a while I think I was trying to be part of a club that doesn't really exist, that group of mythical perfectly organized, never procrastinating super beings.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:36 PM on May 23, 2012


Lifehacking is about figuring out more efficient paths to get places. It should not be (and in moderation it is not) the destination. You hack your way to something. Sometimes, when the destination matters less than what you see along the way, hacking is counterproductive, and the eventual success is empty; but other times, processes are legitimately shit that deserve to be hacked to pieces.

I loved Lifehacker in high school, because I had little idea of what I wanted to do in life, but I could still teach myself to do those things better! Then I figured shit out and suddenly the blog felt like a hyperactive stranger telling to do a bunch of things I no longer wanted to do. But I still prefer that to people like this or Merlin Mann, who take their own personal development and use them to slag the things that once helped them out. People outgrow things. No need for spite.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:37 PM on May 23, 2012


It seems to me the only true "lifehack" would be unlocking immortality.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:38 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who publicly and vocally quit lifehacking remind me a lot of people who have quit drinking. It's like, man, you weren't supposed to be doing it all day!
posted by entropicamericana at 2:43 PM on May 23, 2012 [44 favorites]


The perfect is the enemy of the good.
posted by bongo_x at 3:02 PM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


There are only 2 lifehacks I truly believe in:

1.) Shoplifting
2.) Food Stamps
posted by broadway bill at 3:09 PM on May 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Maybe all the time I spend looking for better ways to do things is keeping me from, well, doing things.

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” -- John Lennon.
posted by ericb at 3:18 PM on May 23, 2012


I've been mocking the GTD people for years. I recognized how they went astray because I used to have that same problem. I'd often spend an hour looking for a better way to do a 10 minute job. I finally came to the realization that this was pointless, and it would be better to consider time spent inefficiently or slacking off not as wasted time, but as high quality time.

I can summarize this article the same way I have been mocking the GTD people for years:

To Do List

1. Stop making damn To Do Lists and do something.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:13 PM on May 23, 2012


But I still prefer that to people like this or Merlin Mann, who take their own personal development and use them to slag the things that once helped them out. People outgrow things. No need for spite.

Seriously, is there a single guy who's more personable in interviews and conversation who could possibly be even MORE of a passive-aggressive whiner in every form of text? I LOVE Merlin when he's on podcasts but I'm not really sure why I put up with seeing his complaints about EVERY GOD DAMN THING IMAGINABLE every single time he posts on Twitter.

Guess I need to optimize him out of my life.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:14 PM on May 23, 2012


Consider a silverware drawer: I used to put knives, forks, spoons, etc. into their own separate compartments. But my wife just takes the clean silverware out of the dishwasher and dumps it into the drawer.

Although I, too, gave up on that lifehacking crap years ago, that's going a bit too far. In my house, that would be grounds for divorce. Silverware categories are the basis for a functioning civilization.
posted by perhapses at 4:40 PM on May 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I too, am a recovering life hacking addict. My supervisor went to a GTD seminar, bought a case of GTD books, and so it began.

It was not all bad though, because it led me to explore ways to streamline work and processes at a time the company was trying to justify everyone's position. Being able to say "Now instead of 11 steps, it takes 5" sounded good to PHBs. Plus I brushed up on my macro skills.

Another plus - it made me re-examine several parts of my life and allowed me to decide what was truly important and with what things I was wasting time and energy. And after all that self-examination, I realized the constant questions for productivity was one of them.

It was taking me down a crazy road of self -blame for poor decisions that were the best decision at the time. All things in moderation, including GTD!
posted by Calzephyr at 5:05 PM on May 23, 2012


Consider a silverware drawer: I used to put knives, forks, spoons, etc. into their own separate compartments. But my wife just takes the clean silverware out of the dishwasher and dumps it into the drawer.

We live in a SOCIETY!

There's something sadly poetic about people desperately optimizing their lives to remove any hint of downtime or wasted time. Desperately trying to be perfectly efficient robots is sort of denying what essentially makes us human.

But it kind of reminds me of family trips with that family member who always had a massive itinerary for every trip designed to MAXIMIXE ALL POTENTIAL FUN EXPERIENCES and ironically it was seldom much fun at all.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:59 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Backlash against Google, backlash against Lifehacker. What has this world become.

Ad-supported.
posted by mhoye at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Desperately trying to be perfectly efficient robots is sort of denying what essentially makes us human.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's on purpose. Not everyone takes pride in their species.

Dude, have you seen Android? That's the only way to keep one step ahead of insanity.

Implying that new apps don't work right if you don't constantly flash ROMs for them? That's not been my experience at all.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:45 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


One day it struck me out of the blue that the my continual frustration with my context-sorted lists of next actions on index cards held together with a binder clip, my pocket-sized Fisher space pen, and my 43 folders was coming from the fact that I thought that I once I had the Perfect System, I would skate through life without any stress. And yet when I looked around me, I didn't see a single person who skated through life with no stress. Everybody had stress: organized people, disorganized people, everybody.

So one semester I didn't keep any to-do list.

And it was okay.

I still keep a paper to-do list, just because it tends to seem longer in my head than it looks on paper, so psychologically paper works better for me. But it's interesting to know I can live without it.

And I still maintain my affection for Merlin Mann because we both seemed to have that "Holy fuck, what are we all doing???" revelation at about the same time.
posted by BrashTech at 8:19 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's something sadly poetic about people desperately optimizing their lives to remove any hint of downtime or wasted time. Desperately trying to be perfectly efficient robots is sort of denying what essentially makes us human.

This. It sucks to be a human trapped in someone else's productivity system. I once had to bill my time in 15 minute increments at one job and it drove me insane on a daily basis because my time never added up to 8 hours. Where did I lose 15 minutes? Oh noes!

Similarly, at another workplace, crazy goals were set for rates of work. We all knew it was some PHB thinking "If six people work 40 hours a week each at X amount of work, we will get Y amount of work done in a year." These goals were so unrealistic that they were often missed. The formula didn't account for sore elbows or wrists or waning enthusiasm.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:25 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe lifehacking wouldn't be so problematic if somebody developed an app to determine if a lifehack would ultimately save you net time/energy or produce more happiness.

I'm going to have to cancel my Memorial Day weekend marina hangout with the pals, but I have a gut feeling this is a really important thing to code.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2012


[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.
--Kurt Vonnegut
posted by MrBadExample at 8:44 PM on May 23, 2012 [30 favorites]


Metafilter: MAXIMIXE ALL POTENTIAL FUN EXPERIENCES
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:53 PM on May 23, 2012


BrashTech: "So one semester I didn't keep any to-do list."

You know what? I lived my entire undergraduate career like that and in retrospect it sucked. Every night you go to sleep and think "I hope I didn't forget any big project!" and mentally recount every source of obligations probing for oversights. "Did I forget to turn on my alarm?" My dentists tell me I've nearly ground my teeth to nubs in my sleep.

So now I record all the important tasks no matter how far out, and my cell phone has fully customizable alarm system, it comes with battery backup, and adjusts for daylight savings and timezone changes itself.
posted by pwnguin at 11:53 PM on May 23, 2012


1. Do what I can when I feel like it.

2. Stuff I don't get done by the end of the week becomes the new First Stack in The Extra Wide Bottom Drawer.

3. The old First Stack becomes the new Second Stack. The old Second Stack becomes the new Third Stack.

4. The old Third Stack goes into The Big Red Secure Bin.

5. Stuff I get reminded about comes out of The Extra Wide Bottom Drawer.

5 almost never happens.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:58 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect it starts in school. Western education simply requires people these dogs jumping constantly through hoops, obeying command after command. This is bad enough but then people get it into their mind that this is how life is, or how life should be. I recently had this conversation and really struck me how so very far people have become machine-like, how there's sense now that nobody just takes pictures any more, they now take pictures, upload them, tag them, share them, and then compulsively check them for status updates. This is bullshit, it's completely unnecessary, and it's really just broken cultural conditioning. There are powerful forces at work and it's always a bit striking to me how most people's lives seem to revolve around completing totally unnecessary bullshit tasks. Combine this with the extraordinary income inequality and really do have a very sophisticated system for keeping people busy and poor and, yes, at that point, I think it's somewhat safe to say that there are a lot of people out there who are essentially slaves.

In retrospect it's clear now why the Greeks placed so much emphasis on virtue. It wasn't just an elaborate morality play, it was an attempt to prevent this, this very thing -- people becoming automatons executing items after item on a list which they have very little control over. Yes it's important to be responsible and pay your debts but in what strange dystopia does Getting Things Done become a thing? At this point perhaps it'd be best to drop the pretense and publish How to be a Better Slave.
posted by nixerman at 5:32 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is especially interesting to me, as one of the more insidious aspects of anxiety/depression, especially in beings who pride themselves on logic, is the ability of compulsion and distraction to disguise itself as "efficiency": it's a cruel trick: you take on several projects at once, make lists and sub-lists and sub-sub-lists, and at the end of the day, you are even more stressed because you got nothing done, and you "worked so hard all day"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:11 AM on May 24, 2012


Getting Things Done helps so far as setting up a Tickler File reminds you to renew your car insurance or when birthdays are coming up. There are bits in there about stopping to consider what you actually want to do with your life, but it gets lost in the countless chapters about returning phone calls and shuffling paperwork around. Like most self help books, it turned what could have been a pamphlet into hundreds of pages.

The original term life hack was about shell scripts. Small utilities to cut down routine computer tasks that people didn't normally bother sharing because they were so small.

It is a shame how the term got co-opted by a site so desperate to hit post quotas that they write about making your own dishwasher detergent or microwaving homemade slippers.
posted by Gary at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quite possibly my favorite Merlin Mann piece ever: 43 Simple Ways to Simplify your Life.
posted by mendel at 9:56 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say I'm really surprised at the reaction to Lifehacker here. Yes, there are a lot of different to-do systems and applications examined, and the "advice" ranges from simplistic and reductive to very complicated - but the impression that I always got was that it was coming from a lot of different people throwing out anything that came across their desk or that was suggested by others. Not everything is going to work for you or make sense. In the first year that I started reading Lifehacker I tried out a lot of the applications suggested on the site and my computer started to look a little like the backyard of some hobbyist who starts a dozen projects and never finishes any of them, and it made me (after uninstalling a lot of things) reassess what I really needed "help" on with my life and what was going to be OK the way it was. It just seemed like the adult thing to do: you follow the posts that you find relevant to your interests and skip the stuff that isn't. It's not some sort of bible, that you have to do everything it says.
posted by koucha at 7:00 AM on May 25, 2012


The original term life hack was about shell scripts. Small utilities to cut down routine computer tasks that people didn't normally bother sharing because they were so small.

Thanks for the reminder. And really, small scripts help my life immensely. I used to waste a lot of time in front of the performing more or less basic maintennance tasks, and have replaced much of that with scripts, probably saving me a total of a few hours each week, which is HUGE.

The summer before grade 11 where I taught myself Perl turned out to be one of the most important things I ever did.
posted by Theta States at 7:39 AM on May 25, 2012


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