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The Cult of Life Hacking and the End of the Dream of Ultimate Productivity

Life hacking is limited

It is possible to spend so much time organizing your work that you never actually do any of it.

  • Many of the early champions of life hacking never got to actually do the work and finally abandoned the tech world's preoccupation with productivity.
  • Others became proponents of minimalism - where you get rid of most of your stuff and then focus more on the few things you keep.
  • Life hacking developed into other forms too. One blogger wanted to write a book in three months while simultaneously attempting seventeen other missions.

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The Cult of Life Hacking and the End of the Dream of Ultimate Productivity

The Cult of Life Hacking and the End of the Dream of Ultimate Productivity

https://slate.com/culture/2019/06/life-hacking-productivity-tech-silicon-valley-hacking-life-book-review.html

slate.com

5

Key Ideas

Life hacking

Life hacking is defined as an approach to getting things done arising from “a systematizing mindset, willingness to experiment, and fondness for tech."

The idea of hacking life arose during a period when technology was achieving one small marvel after another. Smartphones seemed almost magical in their ability to assist with everyday niggles, like giving people directions to your house, or paging through a newspaper to find out where the latest movie is showing.

The tech company believed it could do productivity, as well as everything else, so much better.

Life hacking mentality

A series of trends are grouped under the rubric of life hacking, labeled "the Californian Ideology." It is a mix of cybernetics, free-market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism. It is very individualistic and distrustful of institutions.

Later on, the life hacking mentality showed up in seemingly unrelated phenomena as the pickup-artist scene. PUAs are a product of a subculture believing that all human activities can be "optimized" by applying systematic processes and formulae like workflows and algorithms. Life hackers started out analyzing and streamlining their to-do lists as well as their intimate relationships.

Life hacking is like self-help

Life hacking is a kind of American self-help. It was practical and evidence-based.

Getting Things Done or GTD, promoted the idea of breaking tasks down into pieces and sorting them by how much time they'll take to accomplish, then allocating reminders. The goal is to free you from a mental to-do list running in the back of your thoughts, making it possible to focus all your energy on a task.

Life hacking is limited

It is possible to spend so much time organizing your work that you never actually do any of it.

  • Many of the early champions of life hacking never got to actually do the work and finally abandoned the tech world's preoccupation with productivity.
  • Others became proponents of minimalism - where you get rid of most of your stuff and then focus more on the few things you keep.
  • Life hacking developed into other forms too. One blogger wanted to write a book in three months while simultaneously attempting seventeen other missions.

The aim defeats the purpose

Life hacking is a pursuit of the “creative class,” an exercise in box-ticking.

The ingenuity behind so many life hacking schemes could make one a more effective promoter for social improvement. The focus of hacking life is on hacking the self, but the focus is on a rather bland and limited part of the self in the process.

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Developing mastery

Fun is the experience of developing mastery. When we acquire new skills and recognize valuable patterns, our brains reward us with a shot of pleasurable sensations. 

Games and learning

Games are optimal learning environments:

  • Feedback loops are short, fast and adapted to your skill level.
  • Challenges grow as you develop new skills.
  • Failures are learning opportunities because every time you make a mistake, you get a hint about how you can do better next time.
Boredom and learning

Boredom is what we feel when our brain decides that there's nothing worth learning. It's the brain searching for new information.

And even games become boring at some point because they eventually run out of things to teach you. That's when you stop playing.

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GTD (Getting Things Done)

GTD is a productivity method for organizing your to-dos, priorities, and schedule in a way that makes them all manageable.

Its 5 principles are:

  • Capture
  • Clarify
  • Org...

"GTD is an organizational system. It doesn't put rules around how you actually do your work. Instead, it focuses on how you capture the work you need to do, organize it, and choose what needs your attention"

"GTD is an organizational system. It doesn't put rules around how you actually do your work. Instead, it focuses on how you capture the work you need to do, organize it, and choose what needs your attention"

GTD: Capture
Capture everything. Your to-dos, your ideas, your recurring tasks, everything. Put it in a pen-and-paper notebook, a to-do app, a planner, whatever you prefer to use to get organized.

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Why be a minimalist

Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.

It’s a way to esc...

Minimalist living

It’s about getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life.

It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.

The benefits of minimalism
  • It’s more sustainable.
  • It’s easier to organize.
  • It’s lower in stress.
  • It’s less expensive and less debt.
  • It’s less cleaning and maintaining.
  • There’s more room for creating, for loved ones, for peace, for doing the things that give you joy.
  • There’s more time for getting healthy.
Personal Management Systems

They are frameworks that ensure everything fulfills the tasks required.

For example: using a shopping list, so you won’t forget what to pick at the supermarket. Some use apps design...

Setting Up A Productivity System

Your system must mimic how your brain searches rather than setting up a new task that you must learn. This way, it will be easy to adopt, adapt and you will continue to use it in the long run. 

You don’t want to spend time thinking about a system and setting it up only to stop using it. Or – even worse – make you do additional steps every time.

Golden Rules For A Great System

At its very core a productivity system must check 3 main points:

  • Searchable: find anything in 5 seconds or less
  • Easy to set up: the simpler the system the easier it will be to set it up; aim for less than one hour
  • Easy to maintain: don’t add complexity as you go, instead try to remove layers.

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Cluttered digital lives
Cluttered digital lives

If people's physical lives were anywhere near as cluttered as their digital lives, their kitchen sinks would be full of dishes, their closets would be jammed, and their houses would be in chaos.

Become a Digital Minimalist

We can reclaim our time and our attention. Unlike a physical space, we can wipe the slate clean in our digital environment.

If you clear apps from your phone, nothing will happen. You can always reinstall the ones you use.

Digital Declutter
  • Clear your browser history.
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters, podcasts, blogs, and anything else you consume.
  • Delete all the apps that are currently on your phone and desktop or laptop (as long as you don’t have to buy a new version of anything).

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Create a To-Do List
  • Sync your to-do list with your mobile phone.
  • Write down the three most important tasks.
  • Keep to an easy and workable task list.
  • Do one thing at a time.

Simplify

Organizing unnecessary items is wasting energy. 

  • Have less stuff.
  • Eliminate outdated articles to read “someday." 
  • Find an appropriate place for everything and make sure it is easily accessible. 
  • Choose one tool and stick with it.
  • Pack tools immediately after use.
Embrace Change

It eliminates methods and ideas that no longer work and promotes the more important things. 

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The Perfect Day

Life is always more out of our control than we would prefer it to be. Even with the most meticulous planning, the perfect day only shows up now and then.

If we were to have a perfect day ever...

The Quest for Uniformity

Similar to the desire for the perfect day, an ideal life can mean enforcing a rigid uniformity that does more harm than good.

Chasing utopian dreams never takes us exactly where we want to go, because ideas change, people change, and new technologies develop.

Chasing A Perfect Paradise

Dictators from history had an ideal world in mind that would last. But their dreams were never realized, and instead left catastrophic destruction behind.

We are unable to plan a perfect life without also fully understanding the complexity of life. Things we think we want now might be different from what we want in the near future.

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Clean up your workspaces

End the workday by taking a minute to tidy your desk, save everything you’re working on, and close of all your tabs and windows. Make sure your work app notifications are automatically snoozed outs...

Review your "to-done’s"

Boost your mood and motivation by taking the time to review your completed tasks at the end of each day.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay motivated and build momentum at work is to celebrate your progress.

The procrastination “doom loop”

Confront the things you’ve been putting off. If you keep putting things off, you'll feel guilty and that makes you want to avoid them even more. You will get stuck in the “doom loop” of anxiety and avoidance.
Break this loop by identifying the tasks that you’ve been avoiding, break them down into smaller tasks and schedule the next step for the following day.

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Digital minimalism
Digital minimalism

It means using technology with more intention and purpose.

It's a “philosophy of technology use” rooted in reclaiming control and intention back from the devices and platforms that hav...

Techno-maximalism

It promtes the basic idea that technological innovations can bring value and convenience into your life.

It just looks at the positives. And it's view is more is better than less, because more things that bring you benefits means more total benefits. 

Putting FOMO into perspective

If you want to maximize the amount of value you feel in your life, you want to put as much of your time and effort as possible into the small number of things to give you huge rewards. 

When you think about it that way, fear of missing out looks like, just mathematically speaking, a really bad strategy.

Tips For Efficient Email Management
  • Unsubscribe from or filter away the stuff you never read.
  • Disable email push notifications on your phone.
  • Check emails twice ...
Quote the sender's email in chunks
  • Only use enough quotations to establish the context.
  • Your reply should come below it.
  • When possible, cut and reformat the quoted text.
  • Get tasks out of your email and into a task manager.
Determine What The Sender Needs From You Asap

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the meaning and the value of the message?
  • What action does this message require of me?

3 more ideas