This year I’ve been trying out some radical life hacks that are making a big difference. These hacks have been around for a while, but no one seems to care about them anymore. They create terrible headlines, difficult practices, and profoundly boring results for a long time. But that’s the key!
The Problem with Modern Life Hacking
Modern life hacks are short-sighted and rooted in the belief that since I have so much to do, I have to find clever ways to do more of this task faster.
I am caught regularly searching or clicking on articles that promise a hack to help me in one of two ways.
Do more of the task, or do it faster.
- Write faster
- Lose weight faster
- Gain more muscle
- Read faster
- Work faster
I read about different tips and tricks to accomplish these things in record time, so that what, exactly? To get more done in the same time frame, or get the same amount done, but in less time. But I forget to answer the big question at the root of the issue.
What am I Working Towards?
Without a clear end result, the hacking becomes a goal unto itself. It’s a crutch and addiction like anything else I can become obsessed with. I’ll also be on high alert for the latest and greatest hack that can help me do “more, faster”.
What masters of any craft know is the only real hack to improvement and mastery is consistent, diligent practice. I can feel the tug of practice when I’m reading a book or article on doing more.
The irony is that I’d be writing/sketching/creating more by simply doing it each day. That by moving past the latest life hack and doing the work, I’m hacking closer and deeper towards mastery in the long run.
The Alternate Definition of Hacking
Before hacking was applied to the pursuit of optimizing life, it was used to brilliant computer programmers that “hack” their way in to the mainframe system and make the changes they deemed necessary.
We think of life hacking as a way to cut through the rules of life and make the changes we wish to see.
But even before computer hacking entered the lexicon, to be a “hack” was to be a complete amatuer, someone who tried to take a dull machete to a forest of redwoods.
The master is one who takes the time to practice his craft, sharpen the axe, and daily chop away until the tree yields from a thousand cuts.
Mastery over Hacks
I have been asking myself what a master would do for a given task. What I should do if the practice is a long term pursuit instead of a short sprint. If I knew I had years, and not days, I would do this.
- Write daily instead of finding writing tips.
- Eat whole, healthy food instead of the latest diet.
- Drink more water than beer.
- Exercise daily, even if it’s just a walk.
Learning is a vital part, but hacking isn’t learning most of the time. It’s another form of consumption and not production. I also learned that many of the people who publish different life hacks actually spend months, even years researching them.
Tim Ferriss spent years researching and testing the different methods used in The 4 Hour Body and The 4 Hour Chef. What I believe Tim would say is the methods and “hacks” he reveals in the pages are a starting point for your own practice, and still take years to truly master.
What I Do Now
Whenever I find myself looking for tips, I begin to write or sketch instead. When I get up in the morning, it’s coffee then write 500 words. When I want to make progress, I have to actually do the work and move forward by putting words on the page and pen to paper.
The Question I’m Challenged By…
When I’m stuck in processing instead of doing, I’m being assaulted by The Resistance. It’s important to ask this question.
Can I make this simpler and do something now?
The answer is almost always yes. I can choose to write, sketch, or make a new video. I can eat simple, healthy foods. I can move around and play with my son.
If I’m concerned with the long game (and I should be), then daily practice and dedication is always better than hacks that can flame out next month.
Great, 750 words today. I’ve practiced.
Want more Sketchnotes?
Let me send you 5 quick lessons on creating your own sketchnotes.