Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Why I've Never Hacked My Life

Well, that’s not quite true. In a weaker, more impressionable time of my life I did try it. Once, and very briefly. And during that short period, I found that hacking my life was a waste of time.

It’s that simple.

I could spend a lot of time trying to find solutions to problems that don’t exist in my life. I could read blogs and books that tell me how to shave a second or two off tasks, to group tasks to save time, to use canned email responses, to wake up an extra hour in order to get more done.

But in the end, expending the effort isn’t worth the gains.

The time I spend investigating, sifting through, and implementing hacks is better spent actually doing things. As I keep stressing in this space and elsewhere, those seconds I shave off tasks are ones I really don’t see. At the end of the day, I don’t see the seconds morphed into minutes as one contiguous block. I don’t notice the so-called extra time I’m supposed to have.

Besides being clever and potentially interesting, those hacks don’t do much for me. They’re time wasters, not time makers.

I don’t care that there are lifehackers out there who get more done than me. I don’t care that there are people spending their every waking hour doing … well, stuff. I’m not in a race with them. I’m not in competition with any of them. I really don’t give a flying you-know-what about how they work and what they do.

The way I work and my notions about productivity don’t demand that I fall into the trap of assembly line productivity (tackling task after task in a seemingly endless slog). Instead, I just want to finish what I need to finish, and then live my life without worrying about scrambling to get on to what I need (or think I need) to do next.

I’m more interested in the quality of life and not the quantity of what I can do. Because, let’s be honest, quantity doesn’t always equal quality. I could, for example, write a dozen articles or blog posts in a day but I can bet that I’d only be satisfied with one or two of them. Why not focus on those one or two things, rather than spreading my energies thinner than they need to be spread?

Having said that, there’s always room for a bit of improvement. But I prefer to tweak, not hack. It’s more sustainable, it’s quicker, and it’s simpler. On top of that, it gives me more time to actually get things done and spend more time relaxing or doing something other than work.

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