Few things make me purr as much as a seeing a plan come together, but one thing that does is coming up with new ways to optimise and iterate old habits and routines. Whether finding a quicker route to work or squeezing in errands while waiting for the train, I love the sensation of being efficient. It can definitely become counterproductive though, or - as one friend put it - sometimes you run the risk of optimising life out of life. Below are a few useless life hacks that haven’t just failed, but actually left me worse off.
The taxi frenzy
Every other week or so I do a big grocery shop, because I'm an adult like that. Unfortunately I'm also a millennial aka a faux adult, so I don't have a car, meaning I take a taxi back with the groceries once I'm done shopping. I've done this for over a year now, and every single time as I pack up the groceries in a zillion bags I also attempt to book a taxi as to make sure I don't have to wait the full five(!) minutes it takes before it gets there. I want the taxi to arrive the exact second I've packed the groceries, paid, and left the store. As you can imagine, it never ends well. Instead, it ends up with me being on the phone while trying to figure out the pin to whatever card I'm using while also packing my bags and apologising to the customers behind for being a complete mess. All to win five minutes. That ends right here, right now.
The unproductive loo and coffee runs
You realise how fucked as a collective we are when we bring our phones even to the toilet. Stats from earlier this year show that 75% of Americans bring their phones to the loo, and I do too. I also bring my phone with me when I pop to the coffee machine because after all, it takes 45 seconds for the coffee to come through (more if there's a queue obviously) and during that time I can check all my channels at least once. Taking a step back and looking at it soberly is pretty terrifying. Coffee and loo runs are great for clearing your mind, even if just for a few minutes, but that obviously doesn't happen if you're constantly staring at your phone. That said, it's not very strange that most of us do - the engineers behind the social media giants have purposefully designed and built the user interface to make it addictive. Though not a social media company, Netflix lists "sleep" as one of its main competitors for their users' attention, so that should give you an idea of where we're currently at in what's called the attention economy. Basically, we're all screwed.
And while we're on Netflix...
Cancelling it turned out to be a poor life hack. I actually blogged about this when I did it a couple of months ago - it all started with me setting out on Q4 of 2017, adamant to be as efficient as humanly possible. "I have too much stuff to do", the reasoning went, "I can't spend my time on Netflix". Fair enough. What happened when I stopped watching an hour of Netflix a day was that I started racking up out of office work hours. Not as an exception when I had a big deadline coming up, but as a standard - even when I didn't have any big side projects. An eight hour work day turned into ten hours and then twelve and all of a sudden you're hovering around fourteen. What happens when you do that is that you start holding yourself to a standard that isn't productive or very good for you in the long run. It's also meant that I've gone all of Q4 without cuddling my cat. Only having one set of hands means you can't cuddle your cat when you're working, and before you know it your cat hates you. The cancelling of Netflix would've been fine had I pursued other means of winding down, i.e. reading or cuddling the cat or meditating. As for now, Netflix is back. As is the cat cuddling.
There are probably more rubbish life hacks I engage in. Having lunch in front of my laptop is another one, but more on that in another post...