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Ask HN: What are your best life hacks?
155 points by vail130 on Mar 13, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 183 comments
What are some of your best life hacks? Not just limited to tech, although it is pretty ripe for hacking. I'm interested in social interaction-based hacks, too.



1) Own a business suit. It hacks other people, because whatever problem you are trying to get resolved does not happen to the sort of people who wear business suits. It also hacks yourself - you'd be amazed how hard it is to sound like an absent-minded twenty-something when you look like the CEO of a multinational. (Trust me.)

2) Writing letters - on paper, physical letters - is the most underrated professional skill there is. Every bureaucracy in the world is a machine to turn letters into things you want. When possible, hand-deliver the letter while wearing a business suit. (Not joking.)

3) You will end up like the people you associate with. Choose friends carefully. (Want to lose weight? Make thin friends. etc, etc)

4) Crock pots: cooking without all the sucky, time consuming parts.


2) Writing letters - on paper, physical letters - is the most underrated professional skill there is. Every bureaucracy in the world is a machine to turn letters into things you want. When possible, hand-deliver the letter while wearing a business suit. (Not joking.)

As intriguing as I find this idea, I couldn't help picture it a bit creepy to write and hand deliver(I can do one or the other). Then again, that's probably why it works. What context have you done that for?

I very rarely write but do have a handwritten journal which incidentally everyone in my life wants to read though I mostly figured it's to find what I've written about them.


Immigration, taxes, landlord issues (the tpoic was "compelling reasons why, despite being a foreigner, I would be a poor option to steal from"), resumes (+), etc.

+ I think resumes are for suckers but if you're going to write one you might as well be a sucker in a business suit.


Really? What do you do instead of a resume? Just a cover letter?


Oh, you still need a resume but you don't start by delivering it. You start by talking to the person who is doing the hiring. the resume only comes out when they say "I'd like to hire you please send your resume to HR".


I can't emphasize this more. Do not hand out your resume like it's free. Value it. Don't give out more than what's needed. Create the "need to talk." Don't ever dump a resume into one of those corporate HR portals. It's a dead end. Make the HR guy work towards asking you for your resume. HR has to "earn" your resume -- 'cos it's tasty.


Bingo.


Agreed. Plus it's better to have some sort of public "surface area", presence, reputation, whatever, thats out there, and let people come to you. I'm very close to living a 0% resume life right now (not perfect, got a recruiter demanding one last week but they get off to a bad start with me when that happens, and I have lots of non-resume-needing opportunities on my plate to pick from). I think resumes are:

(1) retarded

(2) archaic relic of past age (like a horse & buggy in a world of interstate highways & helicopters)

(3) distorting

(4) low fidelity

(5) too confining

(6) too static/dead (not interactive, searchable and multimedia, like a web page)

(7) surpassed by the ability to have online presences and profiles

and (8) far far inferior to just showing your past work directly and relying on word-of-mouth recommendations and Internet findability, plus, having a personal conversation and telling someone what you can do for them, and doing it.

I once got a paying gig because when the client typed in a certain combination of keywords in Google, I came up as the #1 result, 1st page (!). You can't beat that. And that sort of recruiting/hiring/sales channel was just not possible even 20 years ago. Let's take advantage of it. Death to the past. Long live the present-becoming-the-future. :)


I agree completely on #2. Before college I has a lot of difficulty putting my thoughts on paper, and my writing style never earned me anything above a "C" in my writing classes. Because I wrote letters in college often (asking for funds, mostly), it is much easier for me to form thoughts and get them across when speaking to someone.


I've got a lot of mileage out of this Employment Hack:

Treat your job as an unimportant thing that's easily replaced, as opposed to your Career that's Important and Fragile and something that you should never ever mess with for worry of ruining your entire life.

If you're not sweating your Career, you're more likely to do silly things like take too much vacation, even long sabbaticals. You're more likely to stand up to silly policies in your Big Company and even find ways to work them to your advantage. If things start going downhill, you'll be more likely to simply bail and go find someplace better.

But if you get into this space where you worry that you're going to be laid off at the first little screwup, and that will mean you have to move into a cardboard box and ask for spare change at the offramp, you're only going to get deeper and deeper into that space until you're stuck. And you're going to cling to your crappy job as though life depended on it while they keep treating you worse and worse.

I have thoroughly employable friends in their 30s who live in constant fear of being laid off, and it's ruining their lives. And I have the example of myself, who didn't sweat it too much, spent the better part of his 30s on the beach with a laptop, and seemingly landed on his feet, more employable than ever.

It's just a job. Try not to give it too much importance.


Do you have kids or a mortgage?


Yes. At least, the kid part should happen in the next week or so.

I imagine you bring it up because losing your job is a much bigger deal when you have a family and expensive stuff. I'd counter that it's only a big deal if you're not certain that you can pick up a new job any time you want.

The best way to acquire that certainty is to spend the first several years of your career proving it to yourself.

  - don't sweat your career, make a name for yourself

  - find yourself on the market for whatever reason

  - immediately get snapped up

  - repeat
If you're provably good at what you do, jobs are plentiful. Enough so that losing one doesn't really do much aside from forcing you to grab a better one.


This rings true with me. Although yet to hit the heights that you have, I treat my job as just that. Not a matter of life and death. Its especially true when you realize how quickly you will be replaced when you go.


I left my job after 3.5 years back in December. Leading up to giving my notice was the most stressful time in my career. Then, after 15 minutes of a professional conversation (and then 3 hours of friendly chit chat about starting my own company) the stress was gone. It's not a big deal. Two weeks later, I was free. I'm still on great terms with them, and even get jokes from my old boss about coming back some day and ending my 'poverty strike.' :)

It's really not a big deal to anyone but that fearful little voice in your head.


Use the other door. The next time you're in a crowded place, like a mall, and lots of people are trying to enter or exit, take notice. Almost 100% of the time, most of the people will all be filing through one door that is open because other people are going through it. This is despite the fact that there is probably one or more perfectly good doors to the left or right of it.

Something similar for revolving doors. Most venues that have revolving doors also have normal doors for wheelchairs, deliveries, or whatever. Stick a large group of people together, and they start clumping up trying to go through the revolver, instead of just going through the other doors.

Being aware of this crowd behavior is a great way to bypass lines, avoid frustration, and beat the crowd.


I can generalize this tip a bit further: always understand your surroundings. Look for optimization.

The other morning I drove up to the bank's drive-thru. There are two lanes of teller+ATMs, but for some reason this morning the second lane had a red X over the lane, meaning there was not a teller manning the manual transaction tube.

But the ATM was still working, the green light was on. But guess what? The other 5 cars saw the X and decided to queue for the other ATM. I swooped right up to the free machine, got my cash, and left. I would have waited 20 minutes in the other line.


On the topic of doors. I have a hack that speeded up transit and benefited many many people daily.

There was a main entrance gate at my old high school. There was four sets of double door that opened out, that allowed students into the campus. These doors are damn heavy and one night I was cruising with my friend and I told him, I got an idea. I refused to answer any of his inquiries.

We arrived at the high school, I climbed up onto the top of the gate. On each door was the little hydraulic system to stop the doors from slamming shut ( know what I'm sayin?) These hydraulic arms were just little planks of metal. I pushed them down with my foot. This created tension when the door closed on the two arms. Instead of sliding freely(and the door closing), the arms rub and create enough friction to hold the door open.

Now instead of the doors swinging close, they remain open daily, until they are closed for the night. Every day I would walk through them, and see every other student walking through my simple little hack that got the doors to stay open all day.

tl;dr: Hacked some doors at my old high school so they would stay open instead of closing.

Edit: My logic is: I used the doors... four times a day average. Took three seconds to open and walk through vs one second to just walk through. So two seconds to open. About 180 days of school times four years.

180x4x2/60= 24 minutes

While not substantial, I just saved a person 24 minutes of their life.


Here is a hack for you: Doors that are hung slightly off center or with self closing hinges close mostly for convenience. Hydraulic or electrical closers like you encountered are more expensive, and only installed when they are required for some reason (security, child safety, fire doors, etc).

You mentioned four sets of double doors, which also indicates the designer knew the requirement for positive closure would be a flow issue and added extra doors. Had there not been a really good reason for having the doors be closed they probably wouldn't have planned for the extra doors.

I know you believe your "hack" was innocent enough, but essentially you vandalized a system someone carefully thought out to save yourself 24 minutes over 4 years.

I don't know the architecture of your high school or the reasoning behind the positive closure doors, but I hope to god they were not part of a firewall (walls and closed doors designed to prevent fire from spreading through a building faster than it can be safely evacuated).


Like. I do these type of time-saving calculations in my head whenever someone like the bus driver drives too slow and fails to make a light, thus costing everyone on the bus an extra minute of their lives.

You actually saved 24 minutes times, say, 3000 students, which is 24*3000/60/24 = 50 human days saved over the span of four years. Not to mention, this hack may well have lived on since you've graduated, so that's many more days of savings. Nice.


And then you starting calculating how much time you spent in the bathroom and hopefully you realise that time is not the essence of life.


1 small risk: the other door might be locked, which turns the situation slightly embarrassing.


Minimizing the effect of embarrassment on your psyche reduces a lot of friction in life.


This is especially true at airports, eg. queues at checkins, boarding pass counters etc.


I don't really keep a traditional to-do list anymore. I tried GTD several times over the last 5 years and it's just too cumbersome (and having a huge to-do list is pretty daunting). I keep high-level project to-dos organized in Basecamp, project ideas are organized in soywiki, and any critical reminders are in Google Calendar (with alerts).

The real hack that I do though is every morning I take a post-it note and write down 3 things that I will finish that day. Then I stick it to my monitor and do the things. After that, I relax and play Starcraft 2 or work on personal projects.

Before I started using the post-it note, I would have a day or two where I was really productive, followed by several days of lackluster productivity. Now, by committing to fewer items per day but actually accomplishing them all, I'm way more productive overall, my clients are happier, and I'm actually making progress on my personal projects.


I'm also using the post-it note. But thing I've noticed is that when I write my to-do list the day before, I'm more productive. Because: - I don't waste time figuring out what I need to do when I'm most productive (mornings) - I already know what my day will looks like the night before, which gives me some ease of mind


I also tried several GTD systems and ended up spending almost a whole day writing my own that for me replaces a piece of note paper. Really simple, but just what I wanted. (Freely hosted at http://my-foc.us/ and that page has a link to the code at github).


I use almost exactly the same system, and it works well.

The major problem I have with it is convincing myself it's OK to stop if I finish my three tasks early.


Sitting next to another person while writing increases my writing productivity by at least 400%. In retrospect it took me way too long to break down and try this.

My shot at immortality costs me $120/year for membership in the Cryonics Institute and $170/year for $250K of 10-year term life insurance of which $50K goes to CI.

I lost 20 pounds on Seth Roberts's fixed-point diet (aka the "Shangri-La diet") and gained 10 of them back after the diet stopped working, but it's ridiculously easy and works better for some people than others.

An awful lot of the rationalists I know have moved to open relationships.


Open relationships sounds good on paper but only works as long as you are not actually in love.


In support of your point, a logical analysis that is relevant to why open relationships really don't work if you are talking about serious intimacy and not just screwing around casually:

http://www.novemberwest.com/blog/?p=5

Disclaimer: I wrote it. Yes, it's my site. Whatever.


At the risk of sounding merely contrarian, I can offer a handful of counterexamples that I know personally.


Are you sure? I mean it's very easy to see when it goes wrong but seeing that it's all fine is a different thing.

There is a reason why the experimentation with that kind of relationships have been on a decline since it's peak in the sixties/seventies.

We are talking about being in love not just being fuck buddies.



So HN debate is now reduced to fallacy linking?

This is not just from one example this among other things a series of documentaries, friends and my now 37 years.

Of course there are some people who can deal with it but chances are that they are not in love. That is at least my experience feel free to counter with experiences or knowledge about successful open relationships where the people are


Hardly, but without some background or sources I'd say a majority of people wouldn't know where you're coming from.


I am not sure I follow. Do you know of anyone in an open relationship who is in love and happy about their spouse fooling around with other people?

I know of none and I know quite a few people who did it, saw a couple of documentaries about it.

I am more than happy to be proven wrong but as far as I am concerned my point still stands and is fairly rational.

If you are in love, open relationships ain't what it's all pumped up to be.


> An awful lot of the rationalists I know have moved to open relationships.

Why?


I don't know if anyone can give a definitive answer, but various hypotheses and experiences were brought up in a discussion of monogamy and polyamory at Less Wrong here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/2ee/unknown_knowns_why_did_you_choos...


As long as you can learn how to suppress or ignore or never have jealousy, multiple relationships seem strictly better (= more fun) to me than monogamy.


In addition to suppressing and ignoring jealousy, another option is to learn how to acknowledge and deal with it. Just as fear is quite a natural thing and hinders people in accomplishing their goals, so can jealousy be a hindrance to happy relationships. Both can be successfully managed however.

  Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. - Mark Twain
I believe the same can be said of jealousy. Also note that unchecked jealousy is not strictly a problem of polyamory; it wreaks havoc even in monogamous relationships.


Yes, I should have also said "accept jealousy" as a possibly superior option.


Did anyone else accidentally parse (= more fun) as a strange prefix notation way of saying "more relationships = fun?"

If not, I apologize in advance for my insanity. ;)


Yes, and I have never even worked regularly with a language that parses like that..



> I lost 20 pounds on Seth Roberts's fixed-point diet (aka the "Shangri-La diet") and gained 10 of them back after the diet stopped working, but it's ridiculously easy and works better for some people than others.

I've heard that said about every Capital D Diet Plan. I have a hypothesis about weight loss which is that it's actually simpler than many people make it out to be. Your body basically has inputs and outputs when it comes to food. If you want to lose weight and/or trim up, you need to either decrease how much food goes in, or increase how much your body burns as energy or turns into new/replaced body cells. That's pretty much it. The overwhelming number of people with weight problems (assuming exceptions are folks with genetic disorders) are just people who are eating too much for what they're body is doing, or, doing too little with their body given the amount of food going in. The type/mix of food matters too, but that's also a no brainer -- don't eat junk, but if you do, eat as little as you can and spread it out with healthy/efficient stuff -- and if you do eat more junk, then you better work it off more to compensate.


Use a vertical monitor for your code editing. Having twice as many lines of code in front of you at once makes a big difference. Most skeptics haven't really tried it.

Stop wasting time obsessing about the best coding setup and the best editor. I've seen very poor developers with incredibly advanced typing shortcuts that they spend hours perfecting. They still write shit code (maybe they do so faster...). I use the standard configuration for an editor I like, which is a text editor only, not an IDE. I think the extra seconds here and there I spend typing repetitive parts of code give me time to think about what I'm going to do next. If you've ever spent half a day writing macros that save you milliseconds, then you're fooling yourself into thinking that you're increasing your productivity. And as I've mentioned, "lost time" isn't lost if you're spending it thinking about the problem you're solving.

Limit your use of debugging tools. I'm self-taught and in my early years of programming (Pascal) as a teenager I just didn't know how to use a debugger. It's given me a 6th sense in figuring out where the problem is in the code when I encounter a problem. Developing that ability makes you work faster because most times you know immediately where the problem is, instead of hunting things down in the debugger in a systematic fashion. Next time you're tempted to immediately fire up the debugger, just don't and try to figure it out only by looking at the code.


  > Use a vertical monitor for your code editing
I used to use emacs's follow-mode for this, but it seems to have been broken for several years. EDIT: I just tried it again after a long hiatus, and it seems to be working, now.

  > Next time you're tempted to immediately fire up the 
  > debugger, just don't and try to figure it out only by
  > looking at the code.
That "sixth sense" develops even if you use the debugger. The debugger is basically useless unless you have a fair idea of where the bug is in the first place. Its main value is in verifying your understanding of what's going on.


The problem I have with a vertical monitor screen is that I end up craning my neck to see the text at the very bottom of the monitor.


That's why I use horizontal screens as well.

If you're looking at a screen or paper all day, you want narrow text to avoid a lot of unnecessary eye movement, and relatively short windows so you avoid unnecessary head movement.

Readability is still a good reason for keeping functions narrower than 80 columns and shorter than 24 lines.


Moving the monitor a bit further away from you and/or tilting it (which looks a bit unnatural, having your monitor "facing up" slightly) solves that problem for me.

I've only used 22" monitors vertically, maybe bigger ones are just too big for vertical use and worsen the issue you've experienced.


I've setup a web based IDE. Using a browser based terminal emulator (shellinabox) and Vim, I can cut code from anywhere I have an internet connection.

http://blog.servermonitoringhq.com/posts/the_ultimate_web_ba...


My monitor is a wide-format one and the viewing angle is quite bad when used vertically :-( (Dell S2409W). What's yours? In general, do you know the principle(s) to keep in mind when selecting a monitor for vertical use?


I had to spend a lot of time to find monitors that use technology with a decent vertical viewing angle.

Nowadays most LCDs use cheaper techs like TN panels that only give a good viewing angle when used horizontally. You have to look for monitors with IPS or S-PVA panels. The one you have has a TN panel, which is the worst kind for vertical use, I'm not surprised that you were disappointed.

Be careful and triple-check that the monitor you intend to buy uses the right panel technology, some manufacturers lie about it and others sell different techs for the same model number.

I have two Dell 2209WAB and one HP LP2275w (in different locations, I only use one monitor at a time + laptop). Both models provide excellent angles for vertical use and definitely use the panel technology advertised.


I used to be bad at names, but eventually I figured out if I repeat a name a few times within seconds of learning it, I generally remember it. "Hi Kevin, nice to meet you, I'm Pat. I was going over there to refresh my drink, you need anything Kevin?" It can sound a little weird, but it's made a huge difference for me, and people love it when you remember and use their name.

Quit drinking so much soda, and switch to diet when you do. (I lost a ton of weight like this. Seriously, a bottle of Coke is over 200 calories. If you drink multiple sodas a day, you can cut out the caloric equivalent of a Big Mac and fries without altering what you eat at all.)

Buy as many monitors as you can fit on your desk. Consider a bigger desk.


Ive tried the repeat someones name trick, but it's always felt forced and made me feel like a car salesman. Have you ever gotten a negative reaction?


Saying someones name doesn't actually help me. I have to write someones name down, either physically, type it into my phone, or write it in the air to remember it. And at that point I will most likely NEVER forget it again.

Friends I've had in high school I no longer have contact with that have strange names that are spelled a certain way I still remember how to spell them ...


I've worked in Marketing for a few years, and I can 100% confirm: the best trick to remembering someone's name is to say it.

Just figure out 2-3 ways to repeat the person's name in conversation and the name will stick to the face.


Remember: not everyone needs to lose weight and/or cut their calories.


Almost everyone should cut their sugar/artificial sugar intake at least. I'm quite skinny and am working on gaining muscle, I don't want to lose weight, but for the last two weeks I've abstained from soda, candy and white carbohydrates (wheat, pasta, spagetti). It has made a huge difference on my energy level, feeling of well being (every day is just "better") and skin quality.

Saturday is my cheat day where I'm allowed to eat everything I want. I ate a pizza and drank a bottle of soda. The pizza was great, but the soda was way too sweet for me. I literary had to force myself to drink the rest (I don't know why I felt I had to empty it). Today I woke up feeling tired the same way I used to feel before I started eating/drinking better and with a huge pimple in my forehead.


> Almost everyone should cut their sugar/artificial sugar intake at least.

Then we should be talking about that, not cutting calories and losing weight. I think I could use more energy, feeling of well being and skin quality. But I suspect that if I just throw away carbohydrates from my ration, I won't be able to get up in the morning ('cause there will be not much left and I'm not eating much as it is, anyway).

I'm not even pro-soda. I could understand if one says that soda can be bad for one's stomach or teeth (diet coke won't help here). I have a problem with the line of reasoning that soda contains calories and everyone needs less of them.

It just undermines the credibility of the dietary advice when the author assumes as a given that everybody should eat less.


So you enjoy the four hour body?


Socks tend to become lonely, loosing their other half, which makes you end up with lots of single socks in the drawer.

I ditched them all and purchased 20 pairs of the same socks. I never pair them up, but simply dump them in the drawer after washing.

This way I don't have to pair them up and I never have to quest for "the lost sock(tm)".


Amen to this one. I found a sock I like (Cole-Haan black pin-dot socks) and just load up once a year at the Nordstrom men's sale. The old ones get washed and donated (they fade slightly in a year, so don't mix-and-match).

Keep a reserve pair or two "fresh" (on the card stock) for those days when you forget to wash socks and you somehow run out.


Conversely, you can take my approach: give up wearing matching socks. :)


That's what I do. I just dump all my socks in my drawer and pick two every morning. Sometimes they match, most times they don't. This has been the subject of much amusement at the office and with my family for many years now. I can't count the number of times I've had to ask people why they assume socks "should" be the same colour.


Life is an experiment. Whatever you do, try, learn, iterate.

Remember, though, that time is your precious resource. You'll never, ever get it back. All life hacks must either extend your time, shorten tasks, or make your time more meaningful.

Here are a few things that came to mind:

Productivity:

* Make a check list. Once you start, you won't be able to believe that you lived life without one. Can't overstate this one.

* I wrote a script that takes screenshots every half minute and lets me see what I've been doing. Huge time-saver. Check-lists also help.

Mental/Spiritual/Creative Well-being:

* Read an actual book that's actually not on a screen. Don't do anything else concurrently.

* Keep short, creative side-projects/weekend projects that you can be excited about. It'll keep your creative juices flowing.

* If you're in a rut, start saying "yes" to things more. It's too easy to stay in.

Fitness:

* Cold shower in the morning, and/or swimming in cold water. A few minutes of this and you'll feel like you ran 10 miles.

* If you're going to enjoy soda or something bad for you, enjoy it in small sips.

* F.lux for your eyes.

* Eat when you're hungry or low on energy. Don't eat when you're not hungry or not low on energy.

Social interaction:

* "Flirt" with everybody. Men and women. Don't overdo it or be weird about it, but the qualities that are successful in flirting tend to be endearing.

* Pay attention to people. "Being there" mentally can be hard, especially when you're tired or your company is tiring, but you've got to try.

* Low self-confidence is a road to all bad things. You're better than that.

* "I like your shirt/watch/shoes/bag" and get ready to hear a story.

* If you can use someone's name, use it. If you can't (and I forget names _all the time_) see if you can introduce a nearby friend. ->* Need help remembering names? Apparently this is an old sales trick (I haven't tried it but it's brilliant): index names in your phone book by category, as you may know WHERE you know a person from but may not be able to remember their name. So for a guy you know from college and whose number you have but you can't remember his name, you can go through your "College" contacts to find "College Ted." Hopefully the name resonates when you see it; I haven't tried this yet.

Time for sleep, I think, but hope these are helpful to someone...


This is really a great list. I think the best of all is the "flirt with everybody" thing. So right. Nothing comes without training, and chances is it will influence people almost no matter how good you look like (except of course if you really smell or really appear unnatural, which you address anyway in the next bullet).


can u publish that script that takes a screen shot?


A simple one for OSX:

while true; do screencapture `date '+%Y-%m-%d-%H-%M-%I'`.png; sleep 30; done


http://www.rescuetime.com/ will give you analytics for free


I've used this before as an offline app http://www.manictime.com/ (win)


Very cool--thanks, guys!


- Persuasion: Mention an idea in passing then wait a week or two. Mention it again in terms of "you know that idea you had ...". This is a surprisingly effective hack on stubborn managers. If they think they'll get the credit for an idea, then they are much more likely to go along with it.

- Drink a glass of water when you first wake up. It will curb the temptation for high carb breakfast foods and reduce coffee intake.

- If you have annual reviews, write a list of your accomplishments for the past year and send it to your boss about a month before reviews are done.

- 10% rule: Allocate 10% of your work time to pet projects that make you happy. The projects should be for the company, and if you have to put in extra hours to find the time, do it. Don't tell anyone about them until they are completed/successful. Bury the failures. This tactic puts a little control and satisfaction back into your life if you have a job that sucks.

- Barter: You'd be surprised where it works. I got a $100 off a jacket at Nordstrom doing this and $50 off a TV.

- Pasta: If you're on a ramen budget, bulk pasta is just as cheap and more nutritious.


s /barter/bargain/


Great life hacks, but how do barter with a big retailer?


The funny thing is, I just asked. With the Nordstrom jacket, I had just graduated and didn't have much money. I told the salesman that I needed a nice blazer for a job interview (which I did), that I really liked one in particular, but it was over my budget. I asked if he would sell it to me for a discount. He pulled me off to the side - I don't think he wanted anyone to overhear - and told me OK. He didn't call a manager - he just did it. I've heard that Macy's gives their employees a lot of autonomy as well.

Flipping it around, I've had customers email asking for a discount. I've gotten to the point I don't even ask why. From my perspective, I'd rather just to give them one and secure the sale than try to haggle over price and possibly lose the sale.


The best life hack advice I ever got was  from my first internship. It was at an engineering firm and as I was sneaking out the back stairwell for a cigarette (yes, I was a smoker for a brief period, shame on me) I ran into an engineer and he asked what I was doing, so I made something up and said I was running an errand. I returned his question, "what are you up to?"

Engineer: "I'm carrying a clipboard"  Me looking confused. Engineer: "if you ever want to look busy, just carry a clipboard...."

Worked every time!   


When i was younger i used a clipboard as a prop to get though the back boor of concerts...check my clipboard while walking at a fast pace worked 90% of the time....


This is hilarious. I love it.


Your brain is a very elastic thing. I've found over the years that I can reprogram (for want of a better word) my head and my personality.

Case in point - Up until 5 years ago I was petrified of needles. My mum used to have to inject herself twice a day due to diabetes until she moved to a pen when I was a teenager, so you think I'd be happy with needles. Oh no. I was scared out of my wits by them. Petrified that they'd hurt more than anything going in. Of course, when I had to have an injection for anything I'd look at it, tense and terrified so the experience would be horrific. I reprogrammed my mind to avoid tensing up, not to look at it, to focus on something else and to accept that this is going to hurt, but not as much as my mind thinks it would, and after a few injections I'm now able to have them without freaking out. A couple of months ago I developed pericarditis and had to have a catheter - normally this would freak me out, but I knew that along with drawing blood samples it had to happen and I had to let it happen so I dealt with it.

I also used to get very stressed out very easily and had a quick temper. I realised that I needed to do something about it as I could flare up and it would upset those near to me. I in effect forced my mind to realise that when I got angry, upset etc. over something that I could not change, all I was doing was upsetting those around me and raising my blood pressure over something that I had no control over. Getting angry at this point has absolutely no chance of any form of positive outcome. Thus, if getting angry doesn't help solve the problem, but not getting angry at least makes you feel better about the issue and better prepared to address the problem, it's much better not to get angry. It took several months of working on it and I do occasionally get wound up easily by some things but I'm definitely a much calmer person as a result.

I've done heaps of other things to my mind and personality in the hopes of making me a better person - becoming more sociable, more comfortable speaking in public, no longer wanting 'stuff' in my life, all with pretty good success.


#1. What if a simple mental exercise could improve your memory and intelligence?

http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/

#2. Dual N-Back Community [ lot of tips: Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence ]

http://groups.google.com/group/brain-training

#3. Memory hack .. [ Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. ] http://ankisrs.net/

#4. Medication hacks:

ADHD: http://curetogether.com/blog/2011/02/22/what-patients-say-wo...

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: http://curetogether.com/blog/2011/02/03/surprising-new-data-...

#5. self-monitoring / Self Tracking

tips: http://quantifiedself.com/

#6. Lonelyness hacking:

http://www.meetup.com/


I wanted to listen to my music in a way that my iPod wouldn't allow. So that day, about a week ago, I wrote an app to play my music the way I wanted. It has a big button, when pressed once marks that position of the song, twice immediately loops from the first mark to the second.

I felt like I had just grabbed a wrench or something and fixed a part of my life, but the wrench was Xcode.


Can you elaborate?

Are you in effect creating a playlist with the "best" parts of songs.

Exactly what hardware are you using for this? "Classic" iPod with a custom firmware like Rockbox? Or iPhone/iPodTouch?


I just used some of the 'classic' built in features. Nothing too fancy, just loop over whatever part of the song you choose however many times you choose.

Screenshot http://cloudedbox.com/LoopTee.html


Two here.

1) Make the placebo effect work for you. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that says that the placebo effect works. Deep down, I know that the placebo effect works, and that simply thinking that I'm getting better makes me better. So, whenever I feel like I'm about to get sick, I tell myself that I can make myself feel better - and I get better. I got this working a few years ago and I haven't had a cold or allergies since.

2) Whenever you get a new program, hit every button. Every last one. Click on every menu option, check out every dropdown, explore the entire preferences and settings dialog. Eventually you'll start to develop an odd intuition for finding things, even in weird GUIS and ones that make no intuitive sense. It also means that you've seen that one button in the corner that does exactly what you want, which is very helpful.


  > Whenever you get a new program, hit every button
Or you could just read the manual...


This presumes there is a decent manual!


hitting the buttons programs your physical procedural memory which is different from declarative memory


If I am in a conversation with another developer because they asked for my help I will stop talking if it looks like they are 1. either ignoring my advice 2. or have understood enough and are busy doing what they need to do or 3. are busy doing something completely different.

This way I don't waste my time, and I can quickly get back to what I was doing. I tend to spend a lot of time explaining concepts even to people that may know what I am talking about so that I don't have to be interrupted again.

I work better while in an almost empty room with no movement around me and no noises other than the music I am playing.

I tend to spend too much time multitasking so I have disabled all of the notification features on most of the apps I use (such as Mail.app, Adium, Twitter, and others) now they can't interrupt me with an badge stating how many messages I still have unread in my Inbox. It has given me a cleaner experience.

Socially I have started cutting out those people that only demand my time but don't provide me with anything. There is no reason why I should be spending my time writing a long reply when I know you are not going to read it or provide some sort of adequate answer to the questions I posed in an attempt to help you. This is in real life as well, phone calls and the like.


I've been running iTerm and MacVim in fullscreen mode and that alone has done wonders for my productivity. I like the idea of closing Adium and the mail app, but I just don't know if I could do it! I feel paranoid when they're not open.


Don't close them, just remove any of the icons that show up. For Adium for example turn off the default jumping action, and sound action, and just leave up a small badge if you require it to feel safe, or turn that off as well. Now your chat client becomes more like email.


When pulled over by the police:

Surrender completely, be kind, considerate and honest. Haven't gotten a ticket in nine years. More, if you're curious about the step-by-step:

http://blog.danilocampos.com/2010/10/23/how-to-get-away-with...

Having a notebook:

A notebook large enough to comfortably dump your thoughts into but small enough to be always near your keyboard is awesome. The notebook helps with procrastination, especially when avoiding some gnarly bit of code you don't know how to write. I just start describing the problem and how I might solve it.

After awhile, I have:

- An idea of what I need to look up

- A basic list of tasks

- A clearer understanding of what I need to do


My favorite speeding ticket escape hatch goes something like this:

1. Get pulled over for speeding.

2. Have your windows rolled down when the officer walks up to your car, hands on the wheel, &c.

3. Preemptively, "Hi, officer. I know I was speeding. I'm sorry, but if I don't get home and go to the bathroom right now, I'm going to need a new pair of pants." Delivery matters, obviously, but it's not hard.

4. Get sent on my merry way.

100% success rate, for a far smaller sample size than I should have, given how I tend to drive.

That said, danilocampos' advice holds. In the one instance where I was caught speeding egregiously, playing the situation as described got my ticket reduced below the magic "10 MPH over" threshold, where the violation is typically also reported to your insurance carrier, leaving aside the reduction in ticket cost.

Moreover, that was after he had to chase me for almost half a mile. His car was an unmarked Mustang, with no siren and recessed flashers, so I simply didn't see him until he pulled in behind me and blocked me into my parking spot at the office.

He was obviously expecting a worst-case scenario after a chase like that (hand on his sidearm as he approached my car, &c). My courtesy and honesty helped defray would could've otherwise been a deep pile of suck.

(I also don't speed much on that road any more. Go figure.)


I have to say the "rules" are a great hack.

Thanks to them, I've never gotten a ticket while inside my own district.

While I have gotten tickets outside my district, I have had violations ignored or reduced drastically merely for coming across as a "good guy".

The police aren't there to mess up your day unless one of you is in a bad mood. You can't control his mood, but don't make your mood the problem.

----

That said, if you're looking at something worse than a traffic violation--invoke every possible right that you can.


> That said, if you're looking at something worse than a traffic violation--invoke every possible right that you can.

Definitely true – I'm assuming we're talking speeding tickets or missed road sign of some sort. If you're transporting drugs or weapons, or driving under the influence, that's a whole other deal.

Hack:

Don't transport anything illegal, including an inebriated driver.


If you do get a ticket, hire an attorney who just deals with tickets. $400 and it's almost guaranteed to go away, with no impact on your points, insurance, etc. The $400 easily outweighs the NPV of the recurring costs over the next few years.


iPhone + Moleskine + pen = win


Here is my financial "hack" if you can call it so. Helps to save some time and money when you really need it.

Plan all your meals and everything else during the weekend. Buy stuff on the weekend. Then, your commitment is not to pay for anything Monday to Friday. No coffees, icecreams, drinks or whatever else you might be tempted to buy. If you feel like you need something desperately, put in on the list and buy when the weekend comes. Rinse and repeat.


Focusing on actual productivity instead of all the apps, software, and techniques to get things done. It's taken a while to learn that, but a very valuable lesson in my opinion.


Do open mics, whether it's comedy, poetry, or music. Put yourself in front of a crowd. You might bomb and embarrass yourself. But afterwards, you'll still be alive. You'll walk back to your same life, but stronger.

I totally agree with the business suit. There's nothing like wearing a suit. (I wonder what it would be like for a woman to get fake tits? Is that the equivalent? I'm not being sexist just making a joke)

Keep track of what you eat. Before you eat something, remember everything you've eaten that day. Keep it up and you'll be surprised how much your eating habits will change.

Bike everywhere.

Go with your gut. I think a lot of us love analyzing things to death because we love flexing our brains. Use the gut.


Get your self tested for ADD,

I know this sounds weird but up 10% of people have it. And with treatment,I got tested and my coding started to become more in depth.

My concentration is more then i can ever imagine. Before I would work 30mins 30 mins(a life hack I got from HN previously) off like a previous. Now I can work 2 hours straight with even better results from what I would do in 4 30 min work sessions.


I also hope it's not medication. I once tried some of those pills from a friend of mine. I gotta tell you I really felt like this is the way one is supposed to feel. I was euphoric, motivated and concentrated like I've never been before. Also when I was younger I was told pretty often by teachers that I might be hyperactive so I wonder if this feeling I had is like other people feel all the time. If so, all the hyperactives have a HUGE disadvantage over all the normal people.


So what was the treatment that enable you to increase your concentration? Not medication I hope. I'm bad at focusing on one thing for more that 30 mins at a time, and just accept it as one of those things in life.


Yes it is medication,

I dont see any thing the matter with medication. Just like a diabetic person can not make insulin from their pancreas. An ADD person does not make enough dopamine in their brains to carry signals.

Medication of course needs to be prescribed my a medical Doctor and you should never take other peoples drugs.

There are a lot of variables, dosage, type of ADD, diet, lifestyle, history.

Medication is not the only treatment for ADD.

Here is an interesting clip http://wellnesshour.com/index.php?option=com_seyret&Item...


"Anecdotal evidence suggests that the dual n-back task also enhances focus and attention and may help improve the symptoms of ADHD/ADD."

http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/


Embrace the you that you are and don't assume your broken. Any differences you have can be turned into advantages.


I haven't come across any scientific basis for ADD, and I've looked. It seems to be a catch-all diagnosis for "responds positively to ritalin, etc."


If you're working on projects outside of your full-time job, do it BEFORE work. Go to sleep relatively early, wake up at 5 and put an hour towards your projects every day.

You can work in the evenings as well, but you've done your work, so there's nothing wrong with chillaxing with your other half/friends/beer/PS3/any combination of the above.


I can't do it before work, especially since I am not a morning person. I do all of my best work at night, which is when the company I am employed with doesn't get me ... so really doing projects late at night is a win-win situation for me.


I totally agree, that's when I am most focused. I get up at 5am every day now and work on a few projects to learn Django/Python, I can get in a good 3 hours of learning/creating before getting ready and heading to the office. In the evening I have time to get in a workout then head home and relax with the family.


Putting myself in positions where I have to pull through.

Like signing up to be a TA at the university -- now I know that I have to really master the course content.

Or telling people that I do/will do x and y.. so now I have to do x and y or else I'm a hypocrite and that sure would be bad. I tell my friends that I get out of bed by counting down out loud from 5..0, and that I ALWAYS get out of bed at 0. And I've convinced myself that I'm a hypocrite or fool of some sort if I don't follow through, just because i told people.

Also made a fun screen scraper last week for a course at the University that filled up with only Seniors and Juniors(has at least 100 students trying to get in). Crontabs to run my script which logs me into the course website and checks the spot availability of the class(and then alerts me if it's open). That's fun because only me and the other CS kids could possibly do this.


Can you expand on how one would get started writing such a script? I've been meaning to do something like this for a while (partially as a legit exercise, partially for fun).


I did just the same thing! I'm using BeautifulSoup for scraping.


As some of you might know, trains are very crowded here in India. I take a train to work. My simple hack is a marked position on the station where I stand when the train arrives in order to be the first one to grab the handle of one of the marked compartments that I always get in. After the people on the train alight, I can sneak in quickly. Using this hack, I am the first one to get inside the compartment 90% of time, no matter how large the crowd is.


Mumbaikar!! I do it too. :) Hey there.


When writing code, use Literate Programming. Not JavaDocs-style API documentation, but actually explain what your code is doing and why inside the code itself. When explaining stuff you will be able to catch bugs before even running the code.

And as bonus, you'll have documentation that isn't a burden to maintain.

Docco or Noweb are good tools for this. Here is one of my Docco examples: http://bergie.github.com/VIE/


My trick for remembering names: When I meet someone new, I try and think of someone else I know with the same name (a friend, famous person, etc.), and picture the two standing next to each-other.

With unique and foreign names I try and thing of an object or animal that sounds like that name. Sometimes I've had to get a bit more creative, like associating my Nepalese acquaintance Badu with Fred Flinstone (yabba dabba doo), but it always works.


> associating my Nepalese acquaintance Badu with Fred Flinstone (yabba dabba doo)

If I were to do that, I'd probably end up forever calling the guy Fred instead.

Or maybe I'd remember it wasn't Fred, but it started with a B, so it must be ... Barney.


Hey ! I am a Nepalese guy. Never heard the name "badu" in my life.


my strategy is after a person had mentioned his/her name, I'm gonna recite it 3 times. it works for me.


Okay, just life hacks, no tech:

Figuring out how to skip boring classes and phys ed in high school (mostly) without getting caught. Ah, good times.

Bypassing uncooperative assistants on the phone in order to schedule meetings with their superiors (OK, not my proudest moments actually).

Faking attractiveness and social intelligence in order to get girls with all kinds of tricks, including infamous wing man maneuvers.

Wow... I better stop right there. Those are all kind of terrible :-(


Now, this is the part where you elaborate and tell us how you did such things.

Honestly, your post is more suspenseful than a cliche horror movie.


I'm not trying to sound extra cool, if that's the reason why I'm being modded down. Those are just hacks I did when I was a lot more foolish than today. As with many things, the actual implementation is quite lame and dubious...

Escaping classes: we had these forms where we were supposed to enter our missed classes and then present them to the various teachers for signature at the end of the month. The weakness of this concept was that teachers had gotten so used to the forms that they didn't keep records of their own when people failed to show up. If you simply "forgot" to fill out and present the form 80% of the time, they would happily sign the other 20% without getting suspicious. Of course, after about a year of this, some of them were on to me, but since I always showed up for exams I guess we came to a silent agreement. One time, a teacher figured out what I was doing and asked me point blank; I admitted everything and to my surprise he said it was OK but I shouldn't tell anyone.

Skipping phys ed was harder. We had several sub-groups with different teachers. Turns out, when you left one sub-group for another, but failed to show up at the new one, nobody noticed because the new and the old teacher didn't ever speak to one another. This only worked because I didn't even show up once at the "new" teacher's lessons so she didn't know who I was. It sounds cool, but it almost got me expelled when school administration found out after two years. However, maybe I got lucky, they were simply incompetent, or they just decided to not care, because after the "formal investigation" was announced, I never heard from them again. Maybe they were ashamed that something like that could actually happen and since I never bragged about this exploit they just chose to ignore it.

Getting past assistants: this involves flat-out lying, which is why I don't do this shit anymore (nor do I need to at my current job, thank the gods). I believe assistants are in constant fear of screwing up. They're supposed to screen the calls and weed out people who just want to sell stuff to their boss, but at the same time they're terrified of false positives. So I basically implied that I knew their bosses. It worked almost every single time, the lies just had to be bold enough. Like, "oh, when we were playing Tennis the other week he said I should coordinate with you about getting an appointment in this month". Stuff like that.

Getting girls: leaving aside the classic wingman tactics at parties (most of which involve either distracting a girl's friends in order to isolate her and/or putting on a show to appear cooler), this one is actually more of a self-hack. It involves faking confidence and importance, and saying things that sound smart because they're prepared in advance.

Like I said, pretty stupid things, actually.


nice


I want to be this guy's friend.


All in the game, yo. All in the game.


* Pick an editor and stick with it. If it's EMACS, learn enough keybindings to be useful and learn elisp. Go through the phase where you run gnus for email and erc and all those silly add-ons. Get your .emacs up to 50-100k. Use that for a few years then throw it all away.

Look for force multipliers/secret weapons:

* Use an IDE. Yes, this contradicts the first point, but an IDE with intelligent context-based autocomplete (MSVC, IDEA, etc.), inline API references, and an inline debugger.

* Learn how to use a debugger. It's programming from the opposite direction: partition the problem space and drill down.

* Learn how to use a profiler.

* Learn your shell and those weird little commands like seq, find, awk, sed, perl -p -i -e, cut, tr, etc, and bash string manipulation.

* Scripting language!

Non-programming, work related hacks:

* Dress well. You'll be taken a lot more seriously if you have a well-tailored suit coat/sportcoat/etc. Even over jeans and without a tie. Watch what happens when you get on an airplane with a nice sportcoat. Make sure you understand accessories, too. Doc Martens don't go with "business casual," nor do white gym socks.

* Outline what you're writing. Whip up a quick outline then flesh it out. You'll save yourself revisions and write an organized email/document/paper first time through. I can write more in 30-90 minutes than most people can in two days.

* Master your grammar and spelling. Don't screw it up and you won't have to proofread. Learning two or three other languages (at least one romance language) will make this much easier.

* This has been said all over the place on HN, but be expensive. Their perception is your reality.

* Always have a point of view when walking into a discussion. If you need your outcome, keep feeding everyone until they come around to your way of thinking. Eventually you'll overcome everyone else's objections.

* Document presentation style is very powerful. Learn to use LaTeX with custom fonts (this ties nicely into outlining), or even Sweave to include R calculations, print it out on thick stock, and put it in a folder. I swear clay-coated 400dpi NeXTLaser output fom FrameMaker got me a +0.5 on every paper I wrote. Be consistent with this so people recognize your "brand". It makes it very difficult for people to sell your ideas as their own.

* Know a little about a lot. You never know when you'll have a chance to talk about Croatia when you're in the elevator with the CEO.

* Master Google-fu. It's amazing how many people don't know how to search effectively. If you can do it quickly enough, you'll appear to know everything. Email comes in at 10:04, you see it at 10:05, you reply with an answer by 10:10, and you're a wizard.

Home/life hacks:

* You can make whatever you want with wood, metal, acrylic, fabric, drywall with a jigsaw, dremel, table saw, heat gun, welder, cutting torch, sewing machine, etc. It's all hackable and doesn't require a lot of training. Your city probably has a coop with classes, or you can enroll at a community/junior college and get access to all kinds of crazy gear. Or you can tear something apart and see how it's made, then wing it.

* Buy clamps. C-clamps, vise grips, spring clamps, etc.

* Buy a globe and spend time just eyeballing it, spinning it around in your hands. Geography will imprint itself in your head.

* Always have something to read. Use any downtime to read it.

* Keep food stashed in your car, desk, etc. A Luna/Clif/Power Bar will get you through that low blood sugar phase, or more importantly, get your partner through it when they're cranky and they have no idea how close they are to being left in a ditch by the side of the road.

* Put your stuff away and keep your place clean. Hire a housekeeper to do this for extra points.

* Either have someone wash and iron your shirts (a couple bucks a shirt) or find a really good non-iron shirt (Brooks Brothers makes some that work really well). Ironing your own shirts is a waste of your life. Make sure they fit.

* Get exercise, especially cardio. Strength training isn't bad, either, but cardio will make you feel good all day.

* Learn to fight, or at least to defend yourself. Never be afraid of physical intimidation. The pain from just about any fight-related injury will go away in a day or two, and you'll heal not long after. Get that into your head and you'll come across as one of the people bullies should avoid.

* Always be creating something. I have two or three projects in some stage of completion. They can be pointless (a coat for your dog?) but it gives you something to focus on and get tangible progress.

* Compound interest. Friend AND enemy.

* Realize that everyone worthwhile has one or two peccadillos. Don't get hung up on them as long as the rest of the package is excellent.

* Daydream. With a piece of paper and pencil or pen nearby.

* Don't type too much on a frickin' community forum. You look like someone who has nothing better to do at 6am on a Sunday morning. (Oh yeah, DST...I wondered how it got so late.)


Keep food stashed in your car, desk, etc. A Luna/Clif/Power Bar will get you through that low blood sugar phase, or more importantly, get your partner through it when they're cranky and they have no idea how close they are to being left in a ditch by the side of the road.

Wait ... is it specifically for diabetics? Then I think you should specify it. I personally am trying to maximise time between meals and not to have any snacks in between. For those not having any disease, the human body is extremely efficient in maintaining blood sugar and homeostasis in general even during prolonged fasting. And intermittent fasting has significant health benefits.

Either have someone wash and iron your shirts (a couple bucks a shirt)

Well, I made a habit of ironing five shirts for the next week during the weekend. When you're used to it, it takes a minute or two per shirt. Maybe it's cheaper to hire someone for couple bucks per shirt, but my time is not that precious yet unfortunately.

I wholeheartedly agree to most of the other points.


Wait ... is it specifically for diabetics? Then I think you should specify it. I personally am trying to maximise time between meals and not to have any snacks in between. For those not having any disease, the human body is extremely efficient in maintaining blood sugar and homeostasis in general even during prolonged fasting. And intermittent fasting has significant health benefits.

Not just for diabetics, if you ask me. I'll occasionally have a "low blood sugar phase", where despite having eaten at my normal times that day, I'll just run into a complete wall and need to eat RIGHT NOW, and if I don't I start to feel miserable very quickly (faint/weak, etc.).


"Keep food"...relates mainly to my wife, who doesn't seem to get that there's a link between "not eating" and "being hungry." We'll leave on a four hour trip and she won't think that it might be a good idea to eat before leaving.

Let's just say that it took a while before I made the connection from "wow, we have most of our fights in the car" to two things: my getting annoyed with other drivers and misplacing my aggression, and her getting peckish.

As for shirts, it's the same sort of choice as hiring a housekeeper. The housekeeper time/value is a lot easier, though, as cleaning the house is certainly more onerous than ironing shirts. :-)


* Compound interest. Friend AND enemy.

What does this mean?


I meant that it's your friend when you are saving money. Go ahead and play with different numbers in one of those 401(k) calculators.[1] Basically, you deposit the interest from previous years' deposits with your current year. In just a few years, you're depositing quite a bit.

It's an enemy when you borrow money, say with a credit card. Just the opposite of saving, you borrow the previous interest every month. You're paying interest on interest. If you have trouble disciplining yourself, get and use a charge card (such as most traditional American Express cards) that forces you to pay off the balance each month.

[1] This is the first Google hit, no affiliation or endorsement: http://www.money-zine.com/Calculators/Retirement-Calculators...


This means, when you save money, save it as early as possible. Even days matter - plenty of banks calculate interest daily, and add it to the account monthly.

When you borrow money, borrow it as late as possible, and pay it off as quickly as possible. Every day you delay, you also pay the interest on the interest for that day. (and so on and so forth, actually!)

Above all, be prepared to do the math.


StrongLifts 5x5 - real strength and fitness for geeks like me.

Getting Things Done using Org mode (very simplified).

The Unschedule from The Now Habit.

Many tips from The Four Hour Work Week.

Make lists. Not too many. Mostly do.

I'm sure I'll think of more...


"do your time" working for the man in a developed country for 5-10 years, saving as much as you can as you go. Then move to a developing country to freely work on projects for pretty much as long as you like. In terms of lifestyle, there are pros and cons, but so far the pros are far outweighing the cons.


If you have to make an important proposal, get it on really nice paper. Go to the print shop and ask what they can do - it's amazing what $15 gets you in terms of wow factor.


Too lazy to create reviews for a final? Create a google doc with a chapter number on each row and email your class asking x people to signup to do y chapters each. When done have em paste it into a master doc. Boom! You have a crowdsourced study guide!


1) Job/Tech related: When starting a new project try to think of something new, something you wish to achieve. Like "I'll switch to VIM for this project in stead of TextMate" or "I'll use CoffeeScript here in stead of Javascript". This way you develop yourself further every project and it won't feel as much like you are doing the same thing all over again every time.

2) Start your own company / start as a freelancer. Come on, you can do it ;) It's not for everyone but ever since I've started doing this I haven't had any regret for doing it. You will have lots of extra time and freedom to try new stuff; And once you have the right clients you only need a couple of hours a week to get the same amount of money you now get working your ass off fulltime. Only do this if you know you are good at what you do. Make sure you've worked in the same field before so you know what to expect and be aware of.

3) Not going to work for yourself? Switch jobs once you get bored. I've seen people work at the same job for so long they go into auto pilot and they don't develop any further. In the last 5 years I've had 4 different full-time jobs, at every switch you will learn some new stuff, either tech or business related. No one ever questioned my loyalty and I've had I nice raise every time I started something new.

4) Some big buildings with lots of companies in it have a private parking lot with some guy in a booth checking out if you can park there (most of the time this is for suppliers or people with some kind of access card). Just approach the barrier, smile at the guy in the booth, and raise your hand. Most of the time they will just let you through. If they don't they will ask you why you are there. Just say you are delivering a package for Company X, they will let you through, no further questions asked.



Overdo things — especially breaks. At work I stopped drinking coffee from the machine and do it as labourous as possible; Grinding the beans, making preferably one cup at a time using an Aeropres. This makes me refocus on the coffee and thus have an actual effective break. Obviously the coffee itself gets hell-of-a-lot better!

I fullscreen every app I use to avoid multitasking. My terminal (vim user) has opacity so I can glimpse the browser behind it for visual cues on what I'm working on.

Turn off all notifications that goes beyond a tiny status light, or similar. Decide for yourself where to focus, dont let the email, IM refocus for you!

Weekly dinner plans. On sunday or monday, plan every dinner for the week. Shop once on monday. This saves you money and makes it a lot easier to eat what your body really needs.

Social life; Volunteer! Its the best and easiest way to make friends. Period Especially if you have trouble in this department.


Brush while in the shower.


> Brush while in the shower.

Not sure how that saves time, unless you're so coordinated that you can wash your body with one hand while you're brushing your teeth with the other.

Also, it would seem to waste a bit of water.


Most of the time when I shower I usually let the water run over me for some time. I use that time to brush.

Yes, it probably is using more water but I waste that water anyway.


Last time one of these threads came up, someone mentioned using the privileged security lines even without a first class ticket or whatever frequent-flyer status you need. I just flew out of Chicago and skipped a pretty decent sized line without any fuss from anyone.


Yeah those lines operate via the honor code. No one is actually going to stop you. That said I consider line jumping to be cheating, not a "life hack".


I've seen tickets checked in Melbourne (Australia) in the Qantas terminal.


Hrm. I don't think you have any information about how those things operate, no offense.. just an observation.

I highly doubt it would work 100% of the time; further, both lines are being manned by federal employees.


Do this enough, and then there's going to be a line to get into the security line.

"Tragedy of the commons."


What do you tell them when they ask you why you are in this line?


Act like you're meant to be there.


"To get to my gate?"


Never do anything to kill time.


"It's not about time, it's about choices. How are you spending your choices?" - Beverly Adamo

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." - Michael Althsuler

"The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves." - Steven Covey


You can't kill time anyway. But it will kill you.


I recently came across a quote that I really liked: "As if you can kill time without injuring eternity"


That's from Thoreau.


I never put a really big task on my todo list. Instead of having "Write 500 page report about XYZ" on your todo, break it down to smaller jobs, but not too small. So instead, write down "look on wikipedia about xyz for 60 minutes", "open up Word, come up with a first draft title, and write down the chapters needed". Makes it A LOT easier to get started on something! If the task is too big I, and many others I suspect, just procrastinate. You end up with half a day gone just thinking about how hard and big the project is, instead of just opening Word and writing down a title, which is better than nothing.


Whenever possible, pass off laziness as efficiency.

Don't be afraid to take your own path. When I decided to switch research topics during grad school, no one was actually doing what I wanted to do, but I was able to convince a couple profs to work with me, successfully have them apply for an NSF grant on my topic, and form a brand new research group of questionable officialness.

I think this has been mentioned before. When purchasing stuff in (US) stores, you can generally swipe your card and enter your PIN before they are done ringing your items up. Makes things go a little faster and you feel like you're in the know.


I would say listen to Baz Luhrmann - Wear sunscreen. The song is one big life hack and one of the best ones in my mind.


When a meeting goes off topic, stand up and walk out. It's a good wake up call for all involved. And if they suddenly decide that there's something important they were meant to ask you but forgot because they were too busy discussing the weather, they'll ask you before your hand hits the door knob.


and how does one do this without appearing rude?


Have a little chime that goes off every five minutes. If you're not doing something worthwhile when the chime goes off, then start doing something worthwhile (for me that's whatever's next on my to-do list.).

www.online-stopwatch.com/interval-timer/ works great.


Rejection Therapy. Seriously. You meet more people, get more stuff and lose the ego. I find I'm a lot friendlier and social because of it: http://www.rejectiontherapy.com


I agree


measuring the quality of a parking spot based on walking time rather than proximity. people spend so long circling for parking, if you just part 3x as far, you'll save way more time and won't burn fuel needlessly while circling.


work: - Do the hardest/ugliest/most boring things first. The rest of your day will get better and better

health: - Remove sugar. Not consuming sugar will make you feel less sleepy/lazy and healthier. If you can't live without it, try to replace it with fruits or dark chocolate

general: - Ride a bicycle. It will help you save money, be healthy, feel cool, and even save time

finance/money: - Put money aside for buying various stuff (I have "tech fund" and "travel fund" for example). When you want to buy something big, use money from the fund

- Never get into consumer debt


I bake chicken wings and drumettes for a slow, but low-fuss dinner. Cover with salt and spices, rub in three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, bake on aluminum foil for 50 minutes at 190 C.

In those 50 minutes, I can clean my apartment, go for a walk, start the laundry, or whatever. The prep time for dinner takes me all of five minutes. They taste delicious and it's very easy to scale up (provided you have oven space) for visitors.


Stopped eating lunch and lost 50 pounds in about 6 months.


Walk away from a tough problem

This one has served me well a number of times. I'll get stuck with a problem that I'm just banging my head against the wall trying to solve. Then as soon as I walk away (to go home for the night or to drive somewhere or something) I'll come up with a solution.

Since recognizing this pattern I'm pretty good at walking away from problems and letting my subconscious go to work. Can't tell you how many times it's worked.


Always take the stairs, and feel good about the fact that you're just a little bit less lazy than the people taking the escalator.


My doing list. I found whenever I made todo lists, I would never get around to doing them. More time went into planning the days, weeks and months ahead than actually getting stuff done.

Now I have a doing list. I write down what I am going to do and then I do it. When I finish what I have done, I cross the task off.


Ask your superiors for advice, even if you don't have any intention of following it. They'll love you for it.


Get good at every system (software or otherwise) you depend on, and stick with them. Don't take on new systems until it hurts too much not to.

For me, this means that I run the same GTD/Pomodoro routine day in and day out using Remember the Milk. And I won't evaluate alternatives until I can't help but.


Don't you worry about getting stuck at a local maximum of productivity?


Most of my life I have worked a maximum of 32 hours a week. Not only does this give me time for exercise and extra fun, but also time to promote my career, not a particular job, by offline learning of new skills and writing. The 20% "lost" revenue is a reasonable cost.


Only diet advice you'll ever need- cut out grains from your diet. Will never have to worry about weight again. Eat meat, fish, fruits and veggies. Have one cheat day during which you eat anything you want. Easy. Simple. No diets, no counting calories. Done.


Only one hack: get the f... out of your country, go to Africa, China, India. Don't bring any survival kit, live the life of these billions of humans, you'll never need fancy lifehacks anymore.


I have forced myself to stop checking mail, facebook, time, etc. on my mobile after I have decided to rest. I have slept better since then.


Setting goals and then pursuing those goals along any avenue, not just the obvious ones. Empiricism along the way.


When giving a high-five, watch the other person's elbow and not their hand.


who read this bottom up? Thats one tip from me

read the last page of a newspaper/mag first


Stop reading unless it can help you immediately - got this tip from 4hour week from Tim Ferris's book.

Books are first vetted for fit by analyzing the star3 comments in Amazon. Then I write what I will do once I read this book before I read actually it.

I read the book and then do the items. Then I analyze: did this book do what I needed it do. To help me become better at predicting.

I used to read about 10 books/week for the last 15 years. Now I only read 2 per week and many weeks none because I am too busy doing ... and WOW what a difference. I wish I started doing this earlier.


1. don't spend money on things you don't need, otherwise you won't have it for things you do need (food, shelter, fuel, healthcare, tools, retirement, training and "down time", etc.)

2. avoid ever having to be in a queue (of people, cars, callers, etc.) -- well, a blocking one, if it's asynch/callback, so you can do something else in the meantime, that's not so bad

3. avoid paying for things that are free (drinking water, the ability to exercise (I think gym memberships and "exercise machines" are pretty close to throwing money away))

4. don't commit to any deadline or scheduled time/places for things unless there's a strong personal benefit for you

5. take a nap/veg/slackoff whenever your body/brain seems to need it (you'll be healthy, happier and more productive) -- coupled with, whenever you do have the desire and energy to work, work, don't slack off -- this takes judgement but both types of things are needed to achieve balance, but your ups will be higher and your downs won't be as down -- this lifestyle is almost impossible to live if you have your own family and/or a salaried 9-to-6-cubicle-corporate-commute job, but much easier to do as indie contractor/consultant or entrepreneur




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