If Life, that inescapable bungler, is giving you a rough go of it, it may just be that you need to hack it. Or at least, this is an idea that is being promoted by various websites. To hack your life, you don't necessarily need to do anything major, or make any big changes in your life (and as a matter of fact, as you will see below, it is essential to the nature of the life hack that it does not involve any major change in your life); any little tip or trick that can help you out with work, your social life, money, being more productive, your relationships, insecurities, even just your morning routine: any little trick that could help you with these things can be considered as a "life hack".
What is a Life Hack?
According to the Urban Dictionary, a life hack is "a tool or technique that makes any aspect of one's life easier or more efficient."
Some of these life hack examples are very funny; socks as pants lubricant is hilarious, as is pooing at work. In general, the sites writing about life hacks have a certain kind of humorous personality. It occurs to me, however, that while the presentation of life hacks on these sites are glossed over with an attitude of coolness and humor, actually what they are promoting is extremely dull and conservative.
The context within which the life hack seems to take place in, is one of dreary everydayness: we find it painful to get out of bed, we are rushed to prepare for work and make our commute on time, we find work to be a pain in the neck, but we have certain requirements or deadlines which are demanded of us which we would like be better at getting done. In each of these cases, we want tricks to make all of these alienating tasks easier, like putting your alarm at the other end of the room to help you get up, or packing a portable breakfast the night before to take on the road, or doing such-and-such an exercise to make your typing faster, or pooing at work for spite.
Ultimate Life Hack Collection
1.) Using your hand, foot, or finger joint as a measuring tool.
2.) For students: if you have a large paper to right (requiring you to find multiple sources) find a book that's close to your topic and use its bibliography.
3.) Students: If you can't get an assignment done on time, send you professor an mp3 or jpg file, and rename it as (the name of your paper).doc. When your professor tries to open the file, it will say it is corrupt. The idea is that this will buy you a day or two to finish your paper.
4.) If you need to remember to bring something with you the next day when you leave home, put your car or house keys on top of it, or, just put the thing you need to remember in or on top of your shoes.
5.) Socks are pant lubricants: putting your socks on first makes it easier to slide your pants on.
6.) Make your lunch for the next day the night before, so you don't have to rush to get it done in the morning (or realistically, so you don't not bother with it in the morning and just get takeout).
7.) Make extra dinner at suppertime to take as lunch the next day. If you get bored of eating the same thing twice in a row you can set up some system of freezing your supper leftovers so you have more variety to take as lunches.
8.) Poo at work: you save money on toilet paper, plus you can enjoy the idea that you're getting paid to poo.
Reading these brings to mind an example of my own:
9.) Remember in school when you had to write lines, and you figured out that it was quicker (or at least it seemed quicker) to write the first word down the page however many times, then the second word however many times, then the third et-cetera. This one may not be helpful for anyone reading this post, but I think it's a good example of a life hack.
Even activities that are supposed to be fun can be life hacked, or made easier and less unpleasant by way of tricks:
10.) Pack a bag of clean clothing, a toothbrush, et-cetera, and keep it in the trunk of your car. Then, if you find yourself invited on a weekend trip at the last minute, or if you are out drinking and suddenly it's 2 AM and you'd rather crash at a friend's place than get a taxi home, you are all ready to go.
11.) The same example as above, only at work: a software company couldn't meet its deadline, so they sent an unformatted floppy disc (this must be an old story) to the other company labelled with the name of the software that was supposed to be on it. When the company called them back a few days later, they said that the disc was blank or wouldn't open or whatever, so the first company (the tricky one) said the disc must have been X-rayed at the airport, and that they would send another one right away marked "please do no X-ray". Meanwhile, they had been working on the software in those extra few days to get it finished by the time the other company got back to them.
12.) Students: If you're having trouble reaching the minimum page numbers for an essay, do a find/replace on all the periods, replacing them with 14-pt periods.
My Thoughts About Life Hacks
We see here that, even with activities that are meant for our enjoyment, during our time away from work, we see these as annoying chores that require tricks to make them easier and less annoying.
That life is something to be hacked, suggests that life is an annoying barrier (a barrier to what?) which must be broken through by using a hack; or in other words, that life is an annoyance that we would like to bypass by way of some trick or freebie. I think the ultimate annoyance, or unpleasantness then, should be this feeling about life in general. In this case, this would make the ultimate life hack something like this:
Change your life, so that you don't need to rely on little tricks to make it easier or less unpleasant, or more importantly, so that you don't think of your life as something that needs to overcome by way of a trick.