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Ask HN: What are some of the best life hacks you use?
68 points by DesHacker on Aug 27, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 51 comments
Life Hacks is for using best practices in life.

I love this one from Reddit:

Staying at a hotel? Ask the Front Desk to borrow one of the hundreds of phone chargers left behind by guests, and leave yours in the car.

The other day my shirt got caught on something and my bottom button was ripped off also leaving a small hole where the button was. I noticed my shirt had a tag on the inside of it with extra buttons attached. I ripped off the tag and used the button while still attached to the tag by putting the button through the hole where the old button was. No needles, no thread... I held my shirt together by the power of life-hacking.

The best homemade pizza: Everytime I make this for someone they text me a picture a week later doing it for someone else.

Make a dough, 2 to 24hrs in advance. Take a dough ball and make a crust. Heat a pan on your stovetop as hot as you can get it. Turn the top broiler on in your oven on max as well. Crust in pan, add sauce mozza, parma, salt. quickly. As soon as the bottom begins to get some char, move the pan directly under (or slide the pizza off onto the oven rack) and position it as close as it will go under the blazing hot heating elements. Finish with some basil.

This is the key to a crust that is both charred but still soft and moist instead of that crunchy unevenly cooked abomination you get when you cook in a home oven.


related: when you have leftover pizza, reheat on the stove. medium heat for 7-8 minutes with a cold start (electric stove) is usually adequate for me, and it's almost better than when the pizza was fresh.

oh pan on the stovetop first is a good call

poor mans pizza oven?

when you need a phone number for the discount at CVS or Safeway, use your local area code followed by 867-5309.

(in case you've never heard the song, listen once, then remember...


there is always someone who has used this number for an account

You get your discount, they get your points, and the shopping analytics company gets noise.


Sometimes more than one person has used this number. If they ask you "which one" or "what's the name", just say "the first one" or "Jenny Song", which are popular options for the account.

The 5 min rule. If anything can be done in 5 min, don't schedule it, do it right away!

Ah yes, also a GTD rule, IIRC.

Longer = defer, delegate, don't.

Buy two of something in bulk so you always have a reserve on hand.

Use Reminder app on Iphone for stuff, but also use Things 3 app as I can organize things into projects and it will still pull in the reminders from the Reminder app.

Use the Clever Dripper to make really strong coffee. Once you have kids you come to appreciate strong coffee.

My local library lets me borrow audio books for free on an app, I use this for learning new things on my commute. If they do not have an audio book I want, I buy it outright on audible rather than paying for the subscription every month.

If you have a vegetable or flower garden, and deer eat everything, you can use something called bobbex deer repellent. Or you can also make a similar mix yourself using garlic, onion, and putrefied eggs

If you have any fobs on your key ring that have broken, you can get a steel clip and some 30 minute epoxy and repair them.

If your tools are scattered all over the place, you can buy relatively cheap durable toolboxes now that can keep everything together. It is far cheaper than having to buy a tool again because you can't find it.

Make it a habit to keep your keys in the same place, put up a set of hooks it you have to. This will save you much trouble.

Boil a lot of water on Sunday, put it in bags and freeze it for the whole week when you need to cook pasta, make a coffee or tea. It saves a lot of time!


Could be a sterilization thing, or he's full of crap :)

Well he has to boil it again, pretty sure it's a joke

No it's already boiled, you just have to unfreeze it

Not sure why the need to freeze it, just keep it at boiling temp until you need it


Lots of love,

Your friend,


Offload all the mundane aspects of life into TODO lists in iPhone Reminder app (that are also shared on iPad, and web via iCloud) so that they don't clutter my mind so much. Go through them and execute on tasks whenever you have some otherwise unoccupied time. Have separate lists for different categories of tasks. Mine are currently:

- regular reminders - thing to do soon/soon-ish

- things I need to do at a specific date, but no sooner, set with reminder for that date & time (ex. go pick up car from the mechanic on Friday afternoon)

- recurring reminders (ex. backup laptop weekly, send monthly invoice to client)

- list of stuff I'm waiting for (ex. stuff from amazon, reply to email from client)

- less important stuff to do/explore, whenever I have some free time (ex. try to find comfortable and not terribly-looking 100% waterproof pants so that I can take long walks in the rain)

I also keep a list of recommended media (books, movies, tv series) to consume next.

All in all not terribly original, but it took me a while to arrive at this system, so maybe it'll be helpful for someone.

I have arrived at nearly the same system. I also share certain lists with my spouse’s iPhone. And Siri works great for adding things to lists. e.g. “add milk to my groceries list”

This is very helpful!

A couple

Tape. I own 10 different types of tape. Duck tape, the rainbow colored one, is great for visual identification + slight adhesive. You can just take your keyring / keyfob/ roll a few inches of 1" wide tape, it has many uses.

1. Have an idea at night → dump a stickynote with tape on doorknob, remove it morning → logit in computer notetaking platform

2. Have an idea anywhere → take a stickynote, dump it in your wallet → logit in computer

3. Important reminder to do something? → place it in associated location. E.G. if you need to bring backpack to work tomorrow, clip your wallet onto it. E.G. Need to reminder yourself something tomorrow? Throw a stickynote inbetween keys on keyboard. E.G Need to call someone in the morning → stickynote a reminder on your phone in morning.

Done, I strongly don't believe in a todolist app, it adds no value. Discipline is life. Simple is better.

A big part of why tuna salad from restaurants and delis tastes so good is that they start with very dry tuna. When preparing canned/jarred tuna I mix in some dehydrated onions after draining, cover and allow the mix to sit in the refrigerator for 15min. Add mayonnaise and other ingredients when the onions have rehydrated. The onions act as a desicant and get the tuna bone dry while adding some onion flavor.

Using an ebike as an alternative to owning a car or calling an uber.

I save a ton of money, in many situations it's faster than a car and it's more enjoyable.

I'm not sure it's great advice -- unless it's a bike friendly city (mostly non US, and even then, selected cities) and/or you are an experienced rider, the increased risk you are taking is substantial[0].

0: https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2016/05/12/how-saf...

It's not really about the city, one just needs a short commute and have daily amenities within a reasonable biking distance, this is the hardest part.

For a daily bike commute, 10 minutes or less is ideal, 10-20 is doable, 20-30 is approaching the limit for me. Unlike a car, the longer you are outside on a bike, the longer you remain exposed to the elements.

With that said, a throttle controlled ebike should not really be compared to a regular bike.

Regular bikers need to think about incline, wind and their personal fitness. They are not just commuting, they're doing a workout and their probably in a world of pain.

The ebiker's mind is less clouded. They do not have to worry about any of those factors and this makes the experience more like driving a car/motorcycle.

I personally enjoy riding my ebike far more than taking an Uber.

Here in Belgium, every city is moslty bike friendly.

Your risk of sustaining catastrophic bodily injury skyrockets.

Compared to a car? Just because you don't have a metal cage around you does not mean you're putting yourself in danger.

A little bit of risk management can go a long way:

- Don't ride a bike that goes 2-3x over the legal ebike limit

- Always wear a helmet

- Avoid paths that require you to be close to motor vehicles

- Always assume that drivers cannot see you unless proven otherwise (ie eye contact) and never rely on the assumption that they will follow the rules

Which ebike did you buy? Link?

I bought the dj city bike.


If I had more time/space, I would have considered building my own.

Dr Bronner's soap for it's various uses. Laundry, cleaning, body wash, hand soap, etc.

I'll earn a hippie badge someday: rubber tramp in a VW to save rent and 32 oz. bottles of the OCD miracle. A few drops on a microfibre towel first since it acts as a surfactant, otherwise water goes everywhere. Able to get sniff-test and actual clean using around 240 ml of water; with hair-washing, around 720 ml. Works great for shaving. It seems strongly concentrated as it can irritate the skin (or I'm a wimp). Suggest 10:1 - 50:1 dilution for hygiene. If someone is extra funky, also add 10:1 hand-sanitizer... there's a tiny risk of using EtOH but it would seem less than legacy EtOH mouthwashes.

I tried using this stuff as general purpose shampoo and it destroyed my hair. I was only washing my hair once every two weeks (natural oils, you know) and I thought it'd be good to clear up the scalp of extra oils but instead it sucked me dry.

How much did you use? I've used it as a shampoo almost every day for months on end with great results, although I only use a dime-sized amount and I add water with it.

Do you mean that you put it in a spray bottle with water?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I think I used it like normal shampoo. To be fair, my hair would be decently oily by that point.

No, just making sure that the hair is wet enough to distribute the smallest possible amount of soap. The trick is to figure out the minimum amount of soap you need to get all of your hair and scalp sudsy. I've used a shampoo-sized dose of Bronner's and had basically the same bad experience you described.

Oh okay, yeah I definitely didn't find the minimum. Maybe I'll give it a try another time-- the stuff is cheap and natural and whatnot.

What does your first sentence mean? English is not my first language.

It means he lives very frugally.

"Earn a badge" comes from a kids club called scouts where you earn a badge that you sow on your shirt for mastering a skill or doing certain things:


So he's joking about earning a badge of being a hippy. Rubber tramp means live in a van (presumably a VW camper van).

I love Dr Bronner's, but I haven't been able to turn it into a decent shampoo. Even after mixing it with different things. It's a bit too drying and my scalp develops a thick sebum layer.

It's a great handwash and all-purpose cleaner. It's good as a bodywash, but too drying. I'm trying to find some good probiotic soap as a replacement.

For Dr Bronner's to work effectively and cheaply, I think it's key to dilute and to use a foaming pump.

Sorry to be that guy, but I have to mention https://www.xkcd.com/1715/ & https://www.xkcd.com/1567/

You are not SORRY, you are proud of yourself!

s/sorry/pretty-please-dont-downvote-me/ :-)

I do not pour the boiling hot pasta water to the sieve, but cover the pot with the sieve and turn it over. That way I have 1 free hand.

Yeah, that's fairly standard. Another trick is to boil it in the sieve and just lift the pasta out of the water.

Even simpler: don't boil water or bother with a sieve for a single serving. Just place pasta in a cup, add hot water to just barely cover it and place the serving plate over it. After 15 minutes, invert the cup and serving plate as a "sieve." It's possible to get FrenchGuyCooking-approved consistency without wasting energy boiling gallons of water that will be washed down the drain.

I'm having trouble visualizing this. One hand is on the pasta handle. Where is the other? What is your secret to no spilled spaghetti?

You align the pot handle with sieve handle and hold the sieve-covered-pot with one hand. The other hand is free. (ie. to turn on cold water to cool down the sink when you pour boiling water there)

I assume you cook for one, max two. Unless you have a pretty strong hand.

When I need to apply moisturiser for my hands, I squeeze a bit on the back of my palm (knuckle side) and then rub the other hand over without ever touching the moisturiser with fingers.

I keep empty bread bags for my pack lunches. It saves having to buy sandwich bags. Even better if the bag is greaseproof paper

Keep butter wrappers in the fridge and use them to grease oven trays for baking.

WD40 to clean audio jacks with a Q-tip

works with umbrellas as well

Advice other people as i feel more inspire and blame my friends for their work as a get more inspire -thousand.careers

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