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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What are Life Hacks?

Improving productivity is easier than ever.

"Life hacks" or "lifehack" are terms that you'll be hearing a lot next year.  And they are not a bad thing.  In fact, they're the NEXT BIG THING  from internet start-ups in improving productivity.

So we thought we'd give you a head's up.

What's a Hack?

You hear people say things like, "I've been hacked."  Usually they mean that a bad guy somehow got their personal information from their computer or smart phone.  That certainly is not good, but a few decades ago, the term, "hack," was meant as a compliment to a computer programer who figured out a way to do something new.  So, for example, the programmer who figured out how to make the text in your emails get wider or narrower depending on how you sized your screen, well, he probably got some great compliments from his fellow programmers.  They probably said, "That's a nice hack."  That's the ultimate programmer compliment. (But getting paid millions for the hack still beats a compliment any day.) 

What are Life Hacks?

Life hacks are something that make your life more efficient.  They're not necessarily computer-related.  It could be something as simple as putting rock-solid ice cream in the microwave for a few seconds so you can scoop it, or pre-printing labels for packages you send to your kids at college.  There's even a site, lifehacker.com that blogs about all sorts of life hacks. Here is another very interesting site with quite a few original ideas for life hacks.

Some time next year you'll hear quite a bit about new "Life Hacking" companies with new products, or apps, usually for smart phones, tablets or laptops, that try to make your life easier.  There are some already out there.  One that I've used for years, Yelp, helps me and millions of others find restaurants, gas stations and drug stores while we're traveling.  It wasn't originally called a "Life Hacking" app, but it is.

A Life Hack for Important Stuff

If you find yourself spending too much time trying to find important information and papers, then you might just be a candidate for improving productivity with a life hack app.
  • Can't find your car title?  There's a life hack app for that.
  • Need to keep track of your meds?  There's a life hack app for that.
  • Want the kids to be able to find your life insurance policies and will?  There's a life hack app for that. 
  • Want to be able to share 40 minutes of old birthday party video to torture your kids?  There's a life hack app for that too.
But if you have an individual app for each of those functions, you'll need a life hack app to keep track of all of your life hacks apps.  So, what do you do?

A number of companies, SafelyFiled included, offer a way to organize, store and share important documents, photos, videos and audio files.  Most of them offer security and a way to search for the stuff you've saved, even if you didn't do a good job of organizing it.  Take a look at as many as you can and figure out what's right for you.  We've already done a blog comparing SafelyFiled to Dropbox and we'll be releasing some other comparisons soon.  I personally prefer SafelyFiled.  (What did you expect?)  No learning curve to figure out how to use it.

Why Should You Be Interested?

We seem to be busier now than we ever were.  The demands on our time don't seem to be decreasing.  So, any life hacks that really work are worth a look.  If you are an employer, a good hack can improve labor productivity.  On the personal side, a good life hack can help anybody improve productivity.  And one that helps not only you, but your entire family, is certainly one to consider.

And now you have a new term to sprinkle into your conversations, too.

If you want to know more, here's a list of interesting sites to explore.  They represent various and conflicting views of lifehacks.



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