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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 escape the exce...

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.