If you start looking for hacks to make your life simpler and happier in the wrong places, you will accomplish the exact opposite of what you hope. You will spin out on solutions to problems you don’t have. You will waste energy trying to feel good about accomplishments that don’t matter to you. You’ll quit because it didn’t work.
Shortcuts are good for two things: finishing faster or having more fun.
When we drive from Grand Rapids to Chicago for a fun weekend in the city we usually want to get there as quickly as possible so the fun can begin. Extra time spent wandering through Gary, Indiana in the car isn’t tempting when deep dish pizza and a show are waiting for us in Chicago. We want to shave time off the trip any way we can. We’re looking for a time-saving shortcut, an efficiency hack.
You can only find a shortcut to an actual destination. Until we’ve set a course to Chicago, there’s no way to find a quicker path. Before I know I want to have a garden, it’s silly to figure out who has seeds on sale and how to choose the right location in my yard. Until you decide you want a master’s degree you won’t be saving yourself any time by mapping out the fastest route to the college.
Thinking about those things before you actually decide to do them isn’t wrong or pointless. It’s just not a hack. It’s dreaming. Efficiency hacks have to come after a direction is set. You can’t get nowhere faster.
Some hacks are about efficiency, some are about happiness.
The truth is, even on the shortest route possible, Chicago requires a solid three hours in the car from my driveway to city center. We could stare out the windows in silence for those 180 minutes…or we could employ life hacks that infuse a necessary job with extra fun. We play games, listen to podcasts, read books, and talk. We pack Funyuns and cans of pop. When a necessary job looks boring, we bring the fun, a happiness hack.
I don’t really have a choice about whether I do certain tasks that are, by nature, boring. Laundry, emptying the dishwasher, homework - they all have a tendency to feel like pure drudgery. Until I employ a magic life hack that marries duty to pleasure.
So the very first, most important step to finding hacks with the power make your life happier and more productive is to have some ideas about where your life is heading. What matters to you? What hats are you wearing every day? What roles are you juggling? What dreams do you have for the future? What catches your attention and makes you want more? What do you wish you had more time and energy for?
We make this process hard on ourselves by making it bigger than it needs to be. You don’t need a fully developed life plan or goal sheet to be able to start finding shortcuts that make sense for you. You just need to know yourself well enough to be able to talk about yourself like you would a friend.
Hi, I’m Lori.
I love twist soft-serve with rainbow sprinkles but I don’t like Twizzlers, even though all my friends do.
I have eight kids, two daughters in law, three grandkids, one husband, and a dog.
I want to create a home and family life that welcomes people in and inspires them to believe in their dreams.
I love Jesus. God’s word is the truest thing I’ve ever discovered.
I crave tidy, cleared-off spaces. They help me think and breathe.
I don’t want to spend my life being a maid.
I love the way sunshine feels on my skin.
Hiking is the best.
I’m a sucker for a well-told story - written or audio.
I love finding more efficient ways to do things and think systems are cool.
I love sleeping in and staying up late.
Dogs are by far my favorite animal.
Black is my favorite color. White and pink are second and third.
I love traveling and I love staying home.
I love coffee and home-made whip cream.
Knowing these things about myself gives direction to the cool ideas I find on Pinterest. I stop scrolling at posts about packing for a week in a carry-on and beautiful quotes of deep thoughts. A sale on bulk Twizzlers? I scroll right past. Or forward it to my girlfriends. Knowing myself is the filter that makes the bounty of the Internet useful instead of an avalanche I get buried under.
Can you give me a quick ten bullet points about yourself right now? If you can, your filter is working. If not, you need to grab a cup of coffee and stare into space for a while so you can put words to the things about you that have been buried beneath a busy life.
Start with ten bullet points but don’t stop there. Every day is a new opportunity to understand yourself better and build a stronger, more useful filter. Cultivate the habit of noticing yourself and being curious.
What makes your eyebrows knit together? What foods make it impossible for you to resist seconds? Which jeans make you feel comfortable all day. What makes you love cooking dinner, what makes you hate it? Which room in your house do you sit down in most often? Do you change your earrings every day or put a favorite set in and wear them for a month? Do you have kids? Do you want kids someday?
After you begin to notice yourself more, learn to ask the next questions - Why? Or What’s that about? What is it about these jeans that makes me choose them every time they are clean? Why am I drawn to the fireplace room every time I want to relax. Why do I hate doing laundry so much?
The more you know yourself, the more you’ll hone in on the life hacks and shortcuts that have the potential to mean the most to your real, actual life.
Hacking yourself is the first hack that changes everything.