lifehacks! jessahacks!

I haven’t had much to say in a bit for a number of reasons. I pulled something in my back swimming on my birthday and now thoroughly hate getting older — I was okay with it before — and have been out of the pool for a while. I do my best thinking in the pool, so my mind feels sludgey. I’ve also been nose-deep in books, working on maybe one too many WordPress projects, and let a friend talk me into a drinking-and-working evening which left me in possession of a bad hangover (a merciful rarity) and this photo.

It looks like the site works well. If you hit something that doesn’t work, please tell me.

Mostly I came over here because I just read this post on Lifehack. Lifehacking is really popular among people I know, online nerd types who are looking to eke a little more happiness or productivity out of an already pretty happy and/or productive day or life. I don’t read it much because I already hacked my life the way I like it. The photo with the article is one of a man wearing a suit. My jessahack number one is don’t wear suits, unless you like them in which case you should wear them all the time.

Here’s the rest of their list and my commentary on it. I’m not trying to be a sanctimonious pain in the ass about this, I just think that lots of these sorts of essays have so many cultural assumptions built into them that we forget that there are so many more changes we can make if we are willing to look outside the normal “coke or pepsi?” set of choices. Actually, I just wanted to try out bulleted lists in this new template.

  • Lifehack: Get up early.
    Jessahack: Sleep until you wake up, you’ll feel better. If you have to stay up late working on something or playing with something, don’t arbitrarily get up early because your Calvinist forebearers think there is some sort of honor in what time you get up.
  • LH: Establish a morning ritual to help you do what you need to do easily and avoid forgetting things.
    Jessahack: make your lists whenever your brain works best. Don’t walk through any part of your life like a robot, even the groggy morning part.
  • LH: Always eat some breakfast.
    Jessahack: Always eat some breakfast, preferably something good for you.
  • LH: Give yourself plenty of time for your morning commute.
    Jessahack: Screw commuting. Live near your job. Work in your community
  • LH: Vary your route to work as much as you can.
    Jessahack: See above. Walk or bike to work. Work from home. Carpool. Take the bus. Join a local rideshare group.
  • LH: When you arrive, have a simple ritual to ease you gently into the work environment.
    Jessahack: Be mindful of what you need to do at work and go do it. Don’t screw around at the coffee machine if someone is waiting for a phone call from you.
  • LH: Take 10 minutes to set the day’s priorities.
    Jessahack: Reprioritize whenever you get something done, check your long-term list. Stare out the window or go for a walk if you can’t get anything done. When in doubt, go to the post office and if there’s no mail for you, send some.
  • LH: Never, never start your day with distractions, like checking e-mail.
    Jessahack: Read email while drinking coffee, wrap up email (first pass) when you’re done with your coffee.
  • LH: If you aren’t sure what needs to be done first, follow this simple rule of thumb: look to see whatever needs to be done next and do it. Repeat until the end of the day. the result will be faster, more secure progress than you ever believed possible.
    Jessahack: This is flat out mysterious to me. I have no response
  • LH: Above all, make a gentle start on the day allows you to preserve your energy for whatever’s still to come.
    Jessahack: If what you want is a fantastic day, don’t pussyfoot into it.

What do you think?


  1. Jessamyn, this is so spot on. I used to read a lot of these sort of sites, though over time I’ve cut it right down to just Lifehacker, which I keep on because it has good software recommendations and guides, as well as the odd useful tip (like this morning’s one about how to set a rule in your email client to delay sending emails by a minute, so you have time to fix typos or attach a document you forgot). I unsubscribed from a lot of them precisely because of this bulleted list approach, as often each tip is essentially meaningless, and only tenuously linked to the others.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head here, and its refreshing to see someone with a little honesty about what most people’s mornings are actually like. I know I will be giving up the commute as soon as I can!

  2. “Screw commuting. Live near your job. Work in your community.” EXACTLY. It’s a mystery to me why more people don’t do this…until I remember that we’ve built all of these suburbs to prevent this. I feel lucky that both my mate and I can bike to our jobs.

  3. “When in doubt, go to the post office and if there’s no mail for you, send some.”

    This is a brilliant suggestion. I do this at work when I am ambivalent as to what to do next and teetering on the edge of accomplishing nothing. I pull a client’s file out of my cabinet and I write a letter on the client’s behalf requesting something of someone else. It keeps my cases moving forward. It puts the ball in someone else’s court.

  4. Laurahack: live in a really, really small community (whether it’s a small town or just a small neighborhood) where there are always people to help you out if you need to drive and your car won’t start and there are always people to talk to at the post office.

    Good stuff, Jessamyn (as always).

  5. I just found you on blogsearch – google’s search engine for blogs. I liked your article, that’s a good idea – to comment on Lifehack articles as there is always something one can add with his/her own spin on things. Thanks for the idea and I like your blog. I’ll grab your feed! Vern

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