“Work smarter, not harder” is a fantastic motto. Anything that will help you save time and energy will make your life a little easier (or even a lot easier). Whether that’s finding a shortcut in your day-to-day routine or solving a problem in a way you’d never thought of, it’s always a joy finding a hidden productivity secret like this.
Humans have always shared their smart solutions with each other, but nowadays, these have been rebranded as “life hacks”. Not everything filed under this moniker is useful, however. But thankfully, Bored Panda is here to help.
We’ve picked out some of the best life hacks that will help you out today. Check them out below and vote for your favorites—it’ll help others find them too! We've shared our favorite life hacks before (here, here and here) but there’s always something new to learn. Bored Panda also spoke with Graham Allcott from Think Productive and he's given us some fantastic advice on how to do exactly that. If you're interested in beating procrastination and getting things done, read on for our full interview!
I used to do this when my daughter was little, "just in case." When going on a crowded outing with your kid, snap a photo of them on your cell phone camera when you arrive. That way, if something happens and you get separated, you have a photo of them that is recent, in the clothes they're wearing that day. Also, stick one of your business cards in your kid's pockets.
Although the term ‘life hacks’ is relatively new, the idea behind it is anything but. People have shared knowledge and better ways to do things since the start of recorded history. You can see an example of vintage life hacks in another article that we’ve posted.
So, where did this modern take on the term come from? It was originally coined in 2004 by Danny O'Brien, a technology journalist. O’Brien talks about this with Gina Trapani of LifeHacker.com, the website founded under the same expression of his.
O’Brien said, “Life hacks popped out of an ongoing discussion I'd been having with people about ‘secret software’—the scripts that geeks write for themselves to get them through the day. Hacks are often a way of cutting through an apparently complex system with a really simple, non-obvious fix.”
Do the dishes whilst cooking instead of waiting around. Leaves the majority of the dishes done by the time your food is cooked.
“So, the idea of life hacks is just really appealing to geeks,” O’Brien continues, “because it's an expression of this huge hope that you can actually hack life in this way, that you might make it a bit more bearable without having to swallow or understand the whole thing.”
O’Brien explains how these newly dubbed ‘life hacks’ expand to the meta: “The hacks that work for geeks end up being useful for a lot of other people who aren't in that subculture at all.”
Measure your hand from your fingertips to palm and memorize it. Now you can judge the size of anything without a ruler. I've used this my whole life to estimate distances of all kinds of things. Also pick a finger that is pretty close to 1cm or a joint close to 1 inch and remember which is which. You will never need a ruler to estimate again.
Although it started its early years as perhaps a geeky term, it’s expanded to become commonplace online and has now been included in the dictionary too. It’s a fun expression that makes sense for the internet generation and it sounds better than “general life productivity tips”.
In essence, that’s what they are: productivity tips for life. So, they can help you get better at pretty much anything. For example, building confidence in social situations, learning how to save money, or just general life skills.
Back when I was 18-26, I always had one full bag packed in my car. It generally had clean underwear, a t-shirt or two, jeans, shorts, flops, and toothbrush/deodorant. I can't tell you how many times I'd just meet up with some friends and next thing you know it was 2AM and I needed a place to sleep. Having everything with me was awesome.
Always be ten minutes early to everything, no matter what; once it's a habit, you'll never stress about being late again. If something unexpected happens in transit, you're on time. Bam!
And learning such life skills will last a lifetime. Staying organized is just one way of thinking about it. In fact, a paper was published on the benefits of being organized for students, and how it reflects on their grades.
In short, those students who learned how to organize themselves and their work, ended up with better grades and a more positive outcome overall. Respectively, those who were less organized had results that were quite the opposite.
Putting my clothes in my closet with the hangers reversed once a year. As I pull clothes out, I reverse the hanger. Every year I give away any clothes that I never took out.
Here is a lifehack for all of the students out there. If you are charged with writing a lengthy research paper, find one very solid source that directly pertains to your thesis, and then you can use that source's bibliography to back into locating new sources.
When you need to remember to bring something with you, put your car keys on it the night before.
Preventing procrastination is also one of the top themes that we see in our list of life hacks. According to one study, approximately 80% of college students consider themselves procrastinators. At least the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one.
So, take heed students, there’s plenty of life hacks here to help you get started on that paper you've been putting off. Or maybe it’s some cleaning tips that are needed—we all know how bad student dorms can get when you’re sharing with half-a-dozen other people.
Make lunch for work the night before.
Groceries are way cheaper than eating out every day - f**k anyone who thinks you're lame because you don't have a Timmyho bagel or BK for lunch everyday. I'm saving 4-5$ per meal.
Not making lunch the morning makes the morning that much smoother.
Invest in a good bed, you use the thing a third of your life! All the good stuff happens there. Sleep after a long day's work, snu-snu with the missus, and if you're like me, 90% of Sunday.
Never go to bed with a messy kitchen/dirty dishes. Waking up to a clean kitchen feels good and it makes making breakfast a lot easier in the morning when you're 1/2 asleep.
Bored Panda spoke to Graham Allcott, founder of Think Productive. Graham is an author, speaker and podcaster, who encourages everyone to do their best work. I asked Graham what makes people procrastinate so often. He explains it brilliantly: "I use an acronym to diagnose where procrastination comes from: D.U.S.T. – so is the thing difficult, undefined, scary or tedious."
"Usually procrastination occurs because the survival part of our brain, the amygdalla, or ‘lizard brain’, is very good at steering us towards avoiding stuff that we’re scared of or don’t want to do. So it’s important to try and understand what the root cause is."
He continues with how we can avoid each of the points on his D.U.S.T. metaphor. David said, "If something is difficult, it’s about replacing that item on our to-do list with the training or advice we need to overcome the difficulty."
"If it’s undefined, we need to break the task or project down into tangible next steps and endpoints so that it’s clearer. If it’s scary, we need to look at how we can use things like deadlines or accountability, and if it’s tedious, we need to find a way to make it more enjoyable (like allowing yourself to watch some Netflix while you file your expense receipts)."
Take notes during meetings, even if it seems like something simple you will remember later. After 10 more simple things get mentioned, you start forgetting them.
Cut negative people out of your life.
Cut people out of your life who only contact you when they want you to do something for them.
To talk to people all you have to do is just ask questions. just let them talk.
Learning new habits such as these life hacks can take some brain reprogramming, of sorts. Once you get into them, though, they’re hugely beneficial. I remembered James Clear’s advice from his book Atomic Habits.
In the book, James calls habits: “the compound interest of self-improvement”. He explains by saying, “They don't seem like much on any given day, but over the months and years their effects can accumulate to an incredible degree.”
Graham Allcott also explained further about our habits. I asked him why we get stuck in our routines, even if there's better way to complete them. Graham answered, "Habits, by their nature, are ‘effortless’, meaning we don’t have to think too much and act mostly on a kind of autopilot, which is a convenient and sometimes essential way of dealing with the pace and complexity of work."
"It takes time and effort to think about the processes of work at the same time as the content of our work," Graham continued, "so either if we’re feeling lazy or we’re just dealing with a fast paced environment, we tend to avoid thinking about the processes of work and just focus on getting through the day with the least effort."
I used to have my computer set up to start playing a specific iTunes playlist on the stereo at a certain time. The playlist was exactly as long as I had in the morning and went from chill songs to more energetic. Throughout my morning routine, I could always tell how I was doing on time by the currently playing song.
Putting socks on before pants. Socks are like pant lubricants. Believe it.
If I spend time looking for something, as soon as I find it and finish using it I put it back the FIRST place I looked for it.
Graham gives us more insights into productivity and asks us to rethink what we know about it. Graham said, "The main thing when it comes to productivity is to abandon the idea of time management altogether." He believes that: "What really matters is ‘attention management’—this is about recognizing the times in your day and in your week where your mind is at its most focussed and applying those hours of attention to the hardest thing on your list. Conversely, you can save up the easy tasks for when your brain is fried at the end of a day or week."
Graham continues, "The best way to approach this is to keep a diary for a week or so and really understand your own peaks and troughs in terms of energy, and then keep tasks on your to-do list based on the varying levels of energy needed to complete them. So, for example, my to-do list has three separate categories: ‘normal’ tasks, ‘deep-thinking/high attention’ tasks, and ‘mindless’ tasks."
If there's something I need to do but am procrastinating, I find something else I also need to do that's even more of a chore. I can then put off doing the second thing by doing the first.
I use my refrigerator as a giant dry erase board. Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove permanent marker if you use the wrong pen.
When you park at a huge parking lot, take a photo of the nearest parking location sign with your cellphone camera. That way, you won't forget that you parked at H43 near the East exit and waste 30 minutes trying to find your car.
If there's something big I want to get done, I tell all my friends I'm going to do it. The fear of looking like an ass helps keep me motivated.
Try to put yourself in as many socially awkward situations as possible. You will be desensitized to it which makes you more outgoing.
Place alarm clock across the room, so you have to get up to turn it off. Especially if you know you're going to have trouble getting up in the morning.
I'm naturally lazy, so I work out first thing in the morning. It wakes me up and then it's over and done with and I don't have to care about it for the rest of the day. I can be lazy during/after work and not feel guilty.
When you wake up in the middle of the night to do something, cover one eye with your hand and leave it there until you return to darkness. The eye that was covered will have retained its ability to see well in the dark so you will not run into the dresser on your way back to bed.
While pre-gaming or preparing for a night out, ensure that there is at least a pint of fresh water next your bed. You are unlikely to think of this when you get in and it will help you immensely in the night/morning
Here's a little trick that helped me learn 10-finger-typing really well:
When you read an article in your browser, activate the search function (ctrl+f) and just start typing the text you are reading. With firefox or chrome, the text you are typing will simultaneously get highlighted.
Just read the highlighted text. You'll want to know what comes next so you'll type as fast as possible. You want to read the text fluently, so you'll type blindly and so on. Worked 100 times better than all these boring training programs.
Don't use the dryer on anything you don't want worn out prematurely, use a clothes rack.