Thursday, 6 August 2015

'Life Hacks' That I Actually Use!

You may well be familiar with a number of websites such as LifeHacker and Pinterest that churn out hundreds of "useful" lifehacks that are supposed to make your life easier, but barely any are actually useful to the vast majority of people, especially if you aren't a super neat freak with a severe lack of storage space. I also have a bit of an issue with the term 'life hack' but it's the most understandable way of describing a lot of these 'hacks' or tips(although some are just straight up advice). So I've compiled a simple list of 'life hacks' that I have actually used in a normal working life, covering a variety of areas, and hopefully some of this will be useful to you too. 


Cooking

1- Put tin foil over your George Foreman or toastie maker to avoid mess
2- If you don't want to waste tin foil, once you've finished using the grill, leave it on and put a wet paper towel on the grill and leave it for about a minute, then just wipe off the dirt no problem!
3- The loop in pan handles makes a great rest for cooking utensils.
4- Pre-chop your veg and freeze in sandwich bags to keep it fresh and cut down on prep time considerably.
5- To avoid oil spatter, put a few wooden toothpicks in your frying pan, the bubbles stick to the toothpicks and they don't affect the taste!


Productivity

1- If it takes less than 2 minutes to complete a task, do it right there and then. 
2- Be mindful of when your natural peaks in productivity are and plan your day to maximise those periods.
3- Clearing to neutral (clearing away) after a task makes it much more likely that you will start another task than if you leave out a cluttered space.
4- Working in an environment where other people are busy will make you work harder.
5- Taking a break is much more productive than trying to power through a lull.
6- Do not skip sleep to get more work done, you'll probably have to waste time going over it again anyway.
7-70-80% of your productivity is tied up in just 2 or 3 tasks, prioritise these tasks.
8- Put a time limit on the amount of time you spend responding to emails (try to spend less than 20% of your day looking at emails).
9- Try to put limits on the amount of time you spend on "springy" tasks, those that stretch to fill in the gaps between the tasks you actually have to do (looking at you, facebook!).
10- Remember, increasing your productivity is about getting things finished quicker so that you have more free time, not about doing the most work possible. 


Misc
1-Twilight and Flux are free apps that adjust your screen colour in line with the time of day to prevent eye strain and sleep disruptions due to blue light.
2- Turn your water to cold at the end of your shower to wake you up and make you feel invigorated.
3- Shampoo is a good emergency replacement for shaving cream if you've ran out.
4- dab a little bit of shampoo on a steamed up mirror before cleaning off to get it perfectly clean and prevent it from steaming up again (excellent for those who shave after showering!).
5- This is a bit of a dirty trick for presentations that I haven't had the nerve to try but I thought I'd put it in anyway; if you're worried about people not paying attention to your presentation then put in a black or white slide about half way through to make it look like there's a problem, people will soon come around and start focusing again, then carry on your presentation. 
6- Drink a glass of water about 30 minutes before you go to bed, you won't have any problem getting up early anymore!
7- If you're trying to break a bad habit or start a new one, you're much more likely to stick to something if you try to make steady progress over a long time rather than jumping straight in or going cold turkey. 
8- If you chew a certain flavour of gum while revising for a topic and then chew that same flavour gum in an exam you will actually remember more!
9- Music may be helpful for when you're working on a project, but it actually makes it harder to revise!
10- Always allow at least twice as much time as you think you will need.
11- The easiest and most efficient way to sort things is the "Noguchi" method, when you use something, put it back on the left hand side, soon the most used items will always be on the left, while the unused stuff will stay on the right, you can then store or throw away the unused stuff.
12- If you have way too many clothes try this, put all of your hangers facing one way in your wardrobe, then once you've worn it/washed it put it back in the wardrobe the other way round, after a year, throw everything away that is still facing the first way. This also helps you to maximise the range of clothes that you wear, as you realise that you haven't worn something for a while. 

2015 Update: 

I still use quite a number of these after a year! I've updated some and here's a few more I've picked up!

1- Many new TVs in hotels have USB ports so you can charge your devices using that! Excellent if you have a difficult to plug in power socket or charger. Or if you're on holiday abroad the USB can sometimes charge faster than the mains through an adapter (or if you are limited on adapters) 
2- If you're travelling by train, read a book or just watch the scenery go by. Don't bother trying to check your phone, as you probably won't have any signal for most of the trip anyway, and you're probably not missing out on anything by putting the phone down for a bit. 




If you have any useful tips or tricks that you would like to share then please leave a comment!


Good sources for life hacks/advice. EDIT: It's been about a year since I actually looked at any of the life hack websites and looking at them now they are essentially exactly the same as they were a year ago (or even less helpful if that's possible) so I've deleted some of the super generic ones and put up a few actually useful websites. 

ayearofproductivity
Life Hacker
/r/lifeprotips
/r/lifehacks
wikihow

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