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Weekly 3: Some helpful life hacks

Summary: Hacks help us do more with less effort and less time. But one of the best hacks is making be

Idea Journal Weekly 3

September 6 · Issue #155 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Hacks help us do more with less effort and less time. But one of the best hacks is making better decisions about what to work on before you start.
(~3 min read)

#1. Stop being so hard on yourself and get more done
Author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers writes on his blog that you can help overcome procrastination by changing an “and” to an “or.”
For example, Sivers writes that his unwritten condition for exercising used to be: “When it’s a nice day, and I’ve finished my work, and I haven’t just eaten, and I’m feeling energetic.”
But it was rare that a given day met all of those conditions. As a result, he didn’t exercise much. 
His coach then suggested that he replace “and” with “or.”
He could exercise when it’s a nice day, or he’s finished his work, or he’s feeling energetic. 
If a list of conditions is keeping you from accomplishing something, try changing “and” to “or.”
#2. “Knowing what you’ll say no to is better than knowing what you’ll say yes to.”
Entrepreneurs Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write in their book It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work that most life hacks, sleep hacks, and time-management hacks don’t work.
These hacks are all driven by an obsession with trying to squeeze more time out of the day.
But as Fried and Heinemeier Hansson point out, rearranging your daily patterns to find more time isn’t the problem: “Too much shit to do is the problem.”
The way to get more done is to have less to do – you have to say no to claw back time.
Instead of shuffling 12 things so that you can do them in a different order, eliminate 7 of the 12 things, and you’ll then have more time left for the remaining 5.
It’s not about time-management, it’s about “obligation elimination.”
At their company Basecamp, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson have been ruthless about eliminating work that doesn’t need to be done as well as work they don’t want to do.
They tell a story about simplifying the payment process for both their customers and themselves.
At one point, Basecamp accepted payment by credit card and check. Credit card processing was automated, but the process for accepting checks was manual: the checks were mailed in, so someone had to receive them, process them, deal with incorrect amounts, and ensure that each check was associated with the right account.
In response to this, some companies might have hired a person to process the checks, or come up with some way to use money, technology, or time to try to make the process more automated.
But Fried and Heinemeier Hansson simply eliminated the process altogether.
They admit that the change turned away some revenue and some customers, but for them it was more of a trade away: “We traded some revenue for some time.”
#3. Some "hacks" are too good to be true
Investor Morgan Housel writes on his blog that, “Hacks are appealing because they look like paths to prizes without the effort.”
But such hacks are rare.
He tells a story about social media marketing to illustrate this point. 
Someone hired a social media consultant at one of Housel’s previous employers. The consultant’s three-hour session covered how to use hashtags, the best time of day to post on Twitter, how threading posts increases engagement, and other hacks. 
But Housel notes that the consultant never mentioned the most effective social media trick: “Write good stuff that people want to read.”
Writing good stuff isn’t a hack. It’s hard.  It takes time and creativity, and it can’t be manufactured. And as Housel points out: “It works, with a near 100% success rate.”
Here are some other examples of what Housel calls “useful hacks”: 
Marketing hack: Make good a product that people need. 
Investing hack: Give compounding the decades it requires. 
Career hack: Work harder than is expected of you and be nice to people. 
Relationship hack: Deserve to be loved. 
Organization hack: Clean up your mess.
Savings hack: Lower your ego and live below your means.
Diet hack: Burn more calories than you consume.
Scale-to-a-million-users hack: Make a product a million people need.
Quote of the week
“My physical trainer Jerzy Gregorek … always says ‘Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.’ Basically, if you are making the hard choices right now in what to eat, you’re not eating all the junk food you want and making the hard choice to work out, then your life long-term will be easy. You won’t be sick. You won’t be unhealthy. The same is true of values. The same is true of saving for a rainy day. The same is true of how you approach your relationships.”
- Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant in an interview on The Knowledge Project podcast
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