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Saturday, July 19, 2014

5 Thoughts (how ironic) on Life Hack Mania

Whenever I happen to be using my laptop, my smart-phone or even my Kindle Fire I come across some variation of a Life Hack list.  I've actually become rather fond of Life Hack lists, and I wanted a bit of background.

Naturally I went to my browser and entered the words "what is a Life Hack", and clicked on the enter key.  You might know one of the first things to pop up was the Wikipedia explanation:

1.  "Life hacking
refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. It is arguably a modern appropriation of a gordian knot - in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner.
Coined in the 1980s in hacker culture, the term became popularized in the blogosphere and is primarily used by computer experts who suffer from information overload or those with a playful curiosity in the ways they can accelerate their workflow in ways other than programming.
The terms hackhacking, and hacker have a long history of ambiguity in the computing and geek communities, particularly within the free and open source software crowds."

2.  About 49,300,000 results

Wow. Interesting.  Just for grins, I typed in "what is a hack" and had "about" 182,000,000 results returned.  I could have played this game all day.  If you want the answer to a specific question that you post in your browser bar, you had better be really specific with the words you use.

Getting back to the term "Life Hacking", I was surprised by the timing of the phrase. Oh, I've been quite aware of the use of the word "hack" in combination with the word "computer" for many years.  But I wondered why I only became aware of the term "Life Hack" within the past year or two. Perhaps it is due the fact that every single day an invitation to view a Life Hacking list appears in my e-mail box.  I honestly don't recall receiving these invitations in the past.  The terminology alone was enough to pique my interest.  

I also admit that because I had the opportunity to read these various lists, I have read some very good advice.  For instance, this morning I read the "12 Quiet Rituals of Enormously Successful Humans", found in the Marc and Angel Hack Life Blog.  They put together quite a collection of interesting and useful lifehacks. (

3.  Thinking outside the box

I wonder if the term Life Hacking is replacing the often over-used term "thinking outside the box"?  The whole purpose of a lifehack is to use a novel approach to reaching a goal, and people are encouraged to find novel solutions to common problems. Well, let's face it, it is faster to use two words instead of four, right?  And the use of the word "Hack" to indicate a shortcut, skill, trick or novel method to increase one's productivity and efficiency is very effective when used with an accompanying number.

It has been proven that more people will read an article with a number in the title.  For example, an article titled "17 Ways to Maximize Your Work Space" will probably garner more readers than if that article were titled "How to Make Your Work Space More Productive".  The information contained therein may be the same, but today's readers want their information in list format, and they want productive ideas without the research that went into finding the idea or the explanation behind the idea.

4.  Information overload on the information highway

There is such a vast volume of information available on the Internet, and so many articles, blogs, videos, vlogs, ezines, and newsletters that in order to capture a reader's attention, the creators of these sources of information had to design a unique way to grab that attention. 

Someone, at some point in time, determined that a really clever title to a piece would entice readers. And because such a volume exists, it became easier for people to absorb information presented in list form.  All the proof you need is contained in any lifehack list you find of interest

When someone creates a lifehack list on any topic, some type of research must precede the writing.  If people wanted to know all the research details, they'd do the research on their own; but people don't want to work too hard to glean the shortcuts they want, so the author condenses the research into more easily digestible bits of information.

The best lists do include enough research for each item to be compelling to the reader.  After all, we do like a concise reason why the particular shortcut will work along with instructions for the best way to implement the shortcut.

5.  I'd rather read a list than write a to-do list

America may have missed out on loving the metric system, and there are many individuals who are math-challenged, but we nevertheless love numbers. It's fun to read lists of shortcuts!  Although each of us has the same 24 hours in every day, we want to get the most out of the time we have.  (Even if we spend a lot of that precious time reading lists of shortcuts to maximize our lives!) 

If you are looking for ideas, or shortcuts, to make your life easier, read a Life Hack list!  They are easier to find than dust, and like dust, there is always more to be found tomorrow.

I could read lists of shortcuts for days on end.  I literally could read lists of shortcuts for days; I wonder how many days it would take to read all 49-million plus results?