30 Times People Hacked Hard Tasks By Coming Up With Clever Shortcuts Shared By People On Reddit
"I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it," Bill Gates once said. I mean, he has to be onto something; after all, he's an American business magnate with a net worth of over $119 billion. But let's admit, it doesn't always work like this. Though in times when it does work, the solutions people manage to come up with are often absolutely genius.
There's a popular thread on Reddit started by the user Slimer425 where people share their best stories of folks coming up with the most clever shortcuts to avoid hard work. "There is a well-known saying that goes 'Always give the hardest job to the laziest person because they will find the easiest way to do it'—what is the best real-life example to this you have seen?" the user wrote in their post. This Reddit thread currently has almost 90k upvotes and over 13k people sharing their stories. With that being said, Bored Panda invites you to read through the most interesting stories of people working smarter, not harder.
There's a story that I've heard a few dozen times about a toothpaste company that had accidentally sent out cases of their product that had a few empty single boxes of toothpaste. The company had endeavored, not only to rectify their mistake, but to ensure they did not repeat it. They hired an engineering company that designed a scale, and alarm shutdown system. If an empty carton was passed down the production line, klaxons would be triggered, and a full stop would initiate until the offending box was recovered, and an all clear had been entered into the computer system, before production could resume. The company paid through the nose, but was ultimately pleased with their failsafe, and the engineers patted eachother on the back. A few months pass, and the engineers returned for quality control. The toothpaste company reported zero margin of error for weeks. Turns out, one of the minimum wage hairnet types on the assembly line didn't appreciate the sound of klaxons, or working with computers. So, he or she had aimed a large fan at the production line, before the scale, that blew the lighter, empty cartons off of the conveyor belt. Problem solved.
Got hired for the day to print 30 packets with 100 pages each. Why would it take a day? I asked ‘Our printer doesn’t collate the pages so it will take you the day to sort the pages into the 30 packets” they said. Right. It was a standard office Xerox printer. It took me all of 30 seconds to find and click the ‘collate’ button. Clicked the ‘staple’ button while at it. All got printed by itself into nice stapled packets and I got paid to browse internet for the day. They thought I was a genius for ‘fixing’ their printer and gave me glowing recommendations to the temp agency that led to more jobs.
Worked in a huge hotel by the airport*. We had layover with over 400 people, I think we were 3 employees. They had buffet for dinner and then left to go to bed since it was 1 or 2 am. Rule was, we should always go to the room and pick up as many plates as we could and then bring them to the cleaner. Took for ages and I wanted to go home.
I decided to roll out the cart and collect the plates and put them on the cart. Guest were seeing it and started putting their plates on the cart when they left. All of a sudden hundreds of people cleaned up their own stuff.
Duty manager saw it and I thought he would blast me, since the hotel was a 5 star place.
He just looked at me, smiled and said "that's why I like to hire lazy people, they think of ways to finish work faster"
Got hired into a plant that just got a big new job building stuff for the military. My job was "materials associate" which basically meant I drove a fork lift and staged parts that were built. The "Engineers" came up with a floor plan for all of the parts and where they needed to be staged. They used fancy lasers and measuring devices and built it all in CAD. After telling them it wouldn't work they said " well lets see you do a better job". I organized the entire 50,000 sq/ft warehouse so that each part was close to the machines that use them, it followed the first in first out method, and each department knew where their parts went when they were done making them (put up signs and what not). After that my job was basically pointless because the warehouse ran its self. I decided to teach myself how to use the welding robots in my downtime. Fast forward 3 years and now I'm an automation engineer at one of the largest parts supplier in the industry.
At my last job, a truck suspension shop, we did inventory every December and it was someone's job to count all the washers and screws of every size.
It was my first inventory and I casually mentioned that they should just weigh one screw or washer, then weigh them all and divide the weight to get the count. Everyone looked at me like I had given them the key to the universe.
Counting washers and screws went from a day or two, to just a few hours.
Boss hated Excel to the point where he didn't want us using formulas because "you can't trust them to be right" so we needed to "do all the calculations by hand or on a calculator" He would give me a spreadsheet once or twice a week that required lets say, 45 seconds to do, but maybe 7 hours by hand and he told me to "go to starbucks or something and crank it out" He thought that since I pasted as values and he couldn't see the formulas that I did it by hand when really I just did it in 45 seconds, sent an email on delay for 7 hours, and studied for the next semester. First day of internship he told me with a straight face he was a "work harder not smarter kinda guy"
The joys of being a parent. As the parent of 2 hyperactive boys, I invented a game called the steamroller game. I would lie down across one end of the bed and the kids would start jumping. At some random point I would make a motor noise and roll across the bed. If they didn't jump in time I would roll right over them. They loved that game.
I just invented it because I wanted to lie down for a few minutes.
I work in a semi-warehouse environment and we have to track where items are at all times. When we move X item from location A to location B we had to type out the to and from locations. We do this hundreds of times a shift.
I went online to a free barcode maker website and spent about 20 minutes making location barcodes.
I save hours a day by scanning barcodes.
I once was a temp at a tiny office on a construction site in around 2003. I was only there for one day while the regular person was on some training.
They sat me down and told me that I just needed to copy all these numbers from one program to another. So I selected them, hit ctrl c and ctrl v. They stared at me.
Turns out about 60% of this woman's time had been spent manually typing numbers from one place to another.
Worked as a cashier during the holiday season back when i was 16. The supermarket was selling drinks by the boxes and at that time, we only had barcode scanners that was at the front of the computer. No gun type scanners existed. I was lazy and didn’t want to carry boxes up to the scanner. So i politely asked my customers if i could carve out the barcode from their box to scan and keep. Some agreed some didn’t want to but eventually i managed to amass all the barcodes needed. Labelled them and kept them in a file for easy reference.
I used to deliver beer. I did not like delivering beer. I may have ended up with 30 stops in a day, including deliveries that the customer would call in to our office for. I used to bring extra beer and blank invoices with me on the truck, to prevent having to drive back to my warehouse to deliver one keg to a place that I was currently across the street from. 7 years later, the driver of that route is still doing that.
Automated 70% of my job in a large finance firm as an intern. Never disclosed it and got paid easy money for 6 months. I spent the time doing courses and applying for my grad school. Got my admission letter during the final 2 weeks of my internship and never looked back. Pro Tip: Python and Excel can be your best friend.
During my intern, my professor gave me line graphs made on paper and asked me to find the coordinates by drawing horizontal and vertical lines. It would have taken hours if not days.
I thought to myself - "I couldn't be the first one who is lazy af". So I googled it, found this cool free to use software "Web Digitizer".
Step 1 - Scan the graph. Step 2 - Mark the X and Y axes in the picture. Step 3 - Grab a beer cause you got the the nicest mf graph that you couldn't have drawn by yourself in a million years.
My professor was so happy she asked me to document the method and mail it across the entire department.
Eating cheetos with chopsticks so you don't have to wipe your fingers while playing videogames.
I worked in a CNC shop. There would be a pile of jobs that needed to be done for the month. Some took days to run while others were generally quick. The record for jobs done in 1 day was 8. What I did was looked through all the jobs and organized them by setup. Meaning... Every job has a setup time. Can take an hour to get all the tooling together, setting up the cutting table, and setting the part square to the table so the machine can "gauge" where the part is so when I insert the code into the machine it can run flawlessly and drill, mill, tap whatever within a literally hair measurement. For every single job. Majority of parts use standard tooling. And I have automatic tool changing with 20 pockets. Long story short I figured out how to line up the jobs so they all have the same setup. Blew the record out of the water with 30 jobs done in one day. Saving the company tens of thousands in work hours. All because I didnt feel like doing all the setups that day.
Co-worker of mine had to get rid of a smaller junk fiberglass boat with no trailer. Our other co-workers are all telling him how much time and money he's going to need to spend to get rid of it, and he's just saying "Oh, is that so?" He took off one day, and sat down on his lawn with a cooler of beer. That day was garbage day. Inevitably, the trash guys roll up. He hands each of them a cold beer, and says "Hey boys, got $50 for each of you if you help me out real quick." They fed the entire 12ft boat into the packer, crushing two feet at a time.
Worked construction right out of high school to save money for school. Once every other week, we'd get a shipment of 100's of door parts, and they made me match serial numbers to parts and orders and confirm we got everything, then organize it all. It literally took 16 hours AT LEAST. And time moved so slowly. So I got fed up with it and made a python app that would take a list of pictures, extract text from the pictures, compare it to a order receipt, then spit out a list of all missing parts and extra parts. So it knocked it down to an hour process of just throwing the door parts in the correct pile while waiting for the script to run.
The worst part is that I didn't even get a raise for doing it.
I'm in corporate accounting, and I'm the only one in my department with a CPA. Of course, I have to take continuing education for my license, and I usually take as many hours of Excel courses as I can each year.
By learning the keyboard shortcuts, advanced formulas, and a bunch of useful hidden features in Excel, I'm able to get most of my work done in less than 2 hours, then spend the rest of the day browsing Reddit and watching YouTube videos. Thank goodness our cubicle walls are high, or I'm sure they would've fired me by now for being on my phone 6+ hours each day.
I don't know that I have a specific example, but a buddy of mine and I used to spend our time working out the most efficient way to do our jobs.
We used to tell ourselves "I'm not being lazy, I'm just being efficient!" It became an almost daily thing..."why are we doing it this way? This is stupid. There must be an easier way." Then we'd find that and implement it.
Nine months ago, I'd made my job so easy it was eliminated. Be careful what you wish for.
Teacher here! We have a K-3rd grade classroom with mixed ages. This year, we decided to assign a big project in pairs. We have a 3rd grade boy who’s cynical, argumentative, and refuses to do work even though he’s extremely intelligent and capable. We decided in an effort to get work out of him, we’d pair him with a very energetic kindergarten boy that has underdeveloped, 5-year old, reading and writing skills. Anyway, the older boy typed sentences on the computer in big 20-point text and gave it to the kindergarten boy to trace on our light board, as well as pictures to color. Well played.
I worked a summer at a mortgage company as an assistant to the underwriters. My only job was printing documents and then hole-punching them to put in folders. They had a super fancy xerox printer that basically did my entire job for me, but the underwriters at this company didn’t know how to click through printer settings to make the machine hole-punch as it was being printed. I showed them how to do it, and they resisted it suuuuper hard (like they didn’t trust it? Idk). So I got to keep my job, but what was supposed to take me all day literally took me about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning. So they started assigning me real tasks, and even offered to keep me on to eventually become an underwriter, too. Because I was “so sharp” (i.e. I knew how to use the very expensive printer they already had).Tl;dr: they had a printer that already did my job for me but didn’t know how to use it. I showed them.
A programmer outsourced his own job overseas, paying Chinese programmers one fifth of his salary to write code for him, while he spent his days surfing Reddit and watching cat videos. His performance reviews praised him for clean, well-written code and called him "the best developer in the building."
I worked at a chain restaurant and in my last few months there we got those stupid table ziosks that customers could pay at. There was a survey at the end of every transaction and our managers added new performance metrics based on how many people paid using the ziosk and also how well our service was based on the surveys. One as*hole would just fill the surveys out himself after his customers left and gave himself five stars in everything. Dude was always ranked top of the servers. Fu*king genius
My parents were having a summer get-together a couple of years ago and my dad wanted my brother and me to dig a small pit for a bonfire. He handed us two shovels and left us to dig,
My brother went and started up our old tractor, drove it across the lawn, dropped the bucket into the earth and drove forward a few feet.
The pit ended up a little larger than what we had planned but once we lined it with stones it was actually a pretty nice pit.
*Edited "my brother and I" to "my brother and me."
In high school we had to do four book reports every year. A friend of mine did his on each Lord of the Rings books and the Hobbit freshman year and turned in the same four book reports for the rest of his time in high school. You switched english teachers every year so no one ever caught on. I was never brave enough to try the same thing.
In college, a professor always assigned 20 page papers.
No one could ever get 20 pages out of one topic. We were only undergraduates. I consistently turned in papers that were 14-15 pages long and suffered for it.
Then I learned about Kyle. He would write papers called something like The Origins of the Federal Reserve, it's Role in the Depression of 1920, the Great Depression, and the 2008 Recession.
Four 5 page papers = one 20 page paper!
My friend who’d take his baby’s clothes off when he fed him. Next level brilliant. Spray the kid off after.
I was working a kids’ chess summer camp with this guy who just horked down pot like you wouldn’t believe (still a far, far better chess player than me).
One day, the kids were being particularly rambunctious and I told him he had to take them outside to get their energy out.
He had them spend the next hour doing “American Ninja Warrior” on the jungle gym/playground. I hadn’t even heard of the show, but it was a group of young boys like 6-12, so they all adored it.
This coworker loved to get super stoned and watch it. Don’t know if he was high at the camp, but he just got to sit on a bench and tell kids their time was getting slower when they did “stunts” and they just scurried and jumped around faster.
Herding yak with a drone takes the cake for me. They run from it, and oddly fear it. Which is surprising considering they have literally zero aerial predators. We only did it a few times because it really makes them uneasy, and doesn't treat them well. But it is very effective and easy, and you can herd them from over 1/2 a mile a way from inside the house.
I read a comment on here a while back about a college kid who picked up an office job over one summer. He became friends with an older lady at the front desk who always needed help figuring out Excel.
He kept finding shortcuts for her, and eventually wrote scripts for her that took a load of work off her plate.
By the end of the summer he had made her job so easy that they decided they didn’t need her to do it anymore. They fired her.
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