Ten Small and Powerful Life Hacks


This post is a more formal version of my HN comment here. "Life hack" is open to interpretation, but I take it as "a small and specific intervention that has huge impact on the rest of my life."

  1. Block distracting websites by default — I talked about how I do so here. They're all available if I ever need them, but getting to them takes a little more effort than normal, so it's easier to avoid the "quick" browse that ends up taking much longer.

    Over time, the hard block becomes less necessary, but it's still good to have the structure there.

  2. Hide the phone — Out of sight, out of mind. The less visible my phone is, the less often I reach for it and the less often I get distracted. When I'm working, it's usually about 10 feet away on my dresser.

  3. Write to friends and family every day — Especially in these times, I think it's always good to let the people important to us know that we care and are thinking about them. Even if I'm just sharing an update about my day. (Make a calendar event if you think you'll forget ๐Ÿ“….)

  4. Create something every day — Even if it's a blog post like this one. Simple and low-stakes is great because it helps build the habit, and making it habitual makes production and creation more and more a part of my identity. ๐Ÿ“…

  5. A bottle of water a day — I find when I drink more water, I feel better. I have a big water bottle that I fill up every day — mostly. I want to be more consistent about this.

  6. Electronics off before bed — Within reason, but I find I sleep better the more strictly I do this. And what do I do instead? Clean up, organize, write down notes for the next day, stretch, meditate, read novels and other light books, draw, spend time with family. ๐Ÿ“…

  7. Make your bed right after you wake up — I think the actions you take right after you wake up have huge impact on your day, and therefore on your whole life. Making your bed is something small you can do to make your life a little nicer. And it's not just me saying so!

  8. An hour of exercise a day — Preferably in the morning, since it sets the tone for the rest of the day. It doesn't have to be heavy or intense. Worst case, I find I'm always in the mood for a morning walk. And the relationship between exercise and health, mood, and overall productivity has been so well established that it's a no-brainer. ๐Ÿ“…

  9. Hug family and friends often — It's simple, but it's easy to forget.

  10. Find the joy in everything — How's that for a life hack? Let me explain.

    For most activities, I can find some aspect of it that's enjoyable and pleasant: the coolness of water when washing dishes, the fresh morning air when out for a walk, or the feeling of typing on this non-butterfly keyboard.

    You can try this right now: maybe you really like the typeface I'm using, or the way I put each hack in bold, or the oh-so-pleasing length of each em-dash.

    The more I practice this, the more I train my mind to attend to the daily pleasures of life, and the happier and lighter I feel. But it's a work in progress.

I'll write something deeper tomorrow. For now, go Niners!