What’s in a Lifehack?
When you travel somewhere, do you tie a ribbon to your luggage so it stands out from the rest? Have you ever used an ice cube to get gum out of someone’s hair? Maybe there’s a tennis ball hanging in your garage so you know exactly where to park your car without hitting the wall. All of these are examples of solutions people have found to everyday problems that help make life a little easier.
If you do an internet search, you’ll be amazed at the number of blog posts, websites, videos and Pinterest boards are out there that are devoted to tips like these. There are easy ideas like putting your cell phone in an empty pint glass to form a makeshift speaker or using your knuckles to figure out which months have 31 days. If you’re a little more adventurous and crafty, you could save money by making your own liquid hand soap using a cheese grater and a less expensive bar of soap. There are an infinite number of ideas that can help bring out that little bit of MacGyver that’s in all of us.
Some people call them Lifehacks, and other people just call them tips or tricks. But no matter what you call them, these unique solutions have been around for a while…and they probably all can be traced back millions of years to fire.
It was 1.8 million years ago that our predecessors discovered the controlled use of fire. This is arguably the ultimate in life hacks, and without a doubt it revolutionized the world as we know it today. But, while controlled use of fire changed how we were able to survive and evolve, starting a fire is something that people today still struggle to perfect. If you do a google search of “how to build a fire,” you get over 12 million results, all claiming to be the best.
But we all know that there is no “one size fits all” approach to anything…even building a fire. We all live different lives with different obstacles and different preferences…we all even hold pens differently. That being said, there is no way one hack works for everyone.. Thanks to the internet, however, we have a chance to find the perfect solution for each of us.
Today, you can find a slew of products, tips, and blog posts with simple (and not-so-simple) solutions to everyday problems. People with arthritis have used (and broken) their teeth to open bottles until someone created a product to help open bottles with ease. Mathematicians have taken the guesswork out of when it makes the most sense to play the lottery. Have rotten bananas? Use a banana hook to keep them fresher longer. Want to clean your computer’s keyboard? Use a post-it note. Wrinkled shirt and no time to iron? Hang it in the bathroom while you shower. If you really want to make your own ice cream sandwiches, there are even videos that show how by using a knife to cut slices out of the pint and putting them between two cookies you can create a culinary treat that parallels something you’d find in a five-star restaurant.
While some of these solutions may seem trivial, if you added up the time you saved, not to mention the reduction of frustration and stress you feel, people are really changing their lives by incorporating a few products or simple tips into how they do things.
One of the biggest areas where people are looking for ways to make life easier is in the kitchen. In 1967, the first domestic microwave was introduced and that dramatically changed the way we did things in the kitchen. The microwave cut down on cooking time, reduced the need to use so many pots and pans (thus reducing cleanup time), and allowed us to reheat leftovers almost instantaneously. Today, approximately 97% of American homes have microwave ovens. But the microwave is just a starting point.
There are an infinite number of kitchen gadgets available on the market today. While people living in the Bronze age used kitchen utensils made of (obviously) bronze, the Iron age brought more sophisticated food tools and as we evolved, we added strainers and the mortar and pestle, which eventually paved the way for jello molds, indoor grills, salad spinners…the list goes on and on. Today, you can even buy a fork that will signal to you with a flashing light if you are eating too fast for your food to be properly digested.
According to Gourmet Insider, the kitchen tool and gadget industry took in $59.8 million in 2016, an increase of 6% from the year before. The number is expected to rise as people entertain from home more, return to canning their own foods, and focus on portion control. The innovations in the industry are never-ending. Whether you want a tech-fueled kitchen or a back-to-basics setup, there is a gadget or two that will help you save time.
We all know that making life easier doesn’t just stop in the kitchen. The amount of gadgets out there, whether fueled by cutting-edge technology or not, is astounding. The earliest example of a gadget would be the wheel. Can you imagine life without the wheel? It made a huge impact on our society, and nowadays, almost everything uses the wheel in some way or another. One of the most amazing facts about the wheel is that, while most inventions are inspired by nature, the wheel was completely thought of by man. According to the Smithsonian, there are no wheels that exist in nature. You never know where great ideas will come from, you just have to be open to them.
If you are struggling to find a way to simplify your life in one arena, you are probably not alone. Not only that, but given our technological advances and availability, when it comes to gadgets, if you can dream it, it probably exists (or you could make it!). From smartphones to aromatherapy socks you put in the microwave, the options are endless. When Bill Gates said, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time,” maybe he wasn’t specifically talking about life hacks. But it applies, and it’s application should inspire us to find new ways to do everyday things.
The importance of gadgetry doesn’t go unnoticed. According to google analytics, people search for different types of gadgets over 100,000 times per month. And you can get even more specific by looking for tech gadgets, kitchen gadgets, and even gadgets to help improve your yoga practice are out there on the market. “There’s a way to do it better–find it,” urged Thomas Edison. Even if someone else’s lifehack idea is not quite what you are looking for, it may inspire you to create your own.
But it’s not just about the gadgets. A simple tip to doing things differently or a motivational quote to keep you inspired are also considered ways of making life easier.
Of course, there are also people who will show you ways to repurpose items you already possess in new ways you never imagined. There are artists whose entire visions are based on repurposing everyday objects, even trash we would normally throw away, into art. You can get step-by-step instructions to learn how to make beads from plastic grocery bags or turn an old ladder into a bookcase. If you have a t-shirt drawer filled with shirts you don’t wear anymore, or clothes your kids have outgrown but that have too much sentimental value to give away, you can repurpose them into a quilt out of clothes you no longer wear.
Finding gadgets and tips to make our lives easier doesn’t make us lazy. It really has a lot more to do with prioritizing. If you can save time by doing your banking online with an app, or keep your jeans lasting longer by putting them in the freezer instead of washing them, why wouldn’t you? It also makes for great conversation to share things you are doing in life to make it easier. People love to hear a good tip and the more offbeat, the better.
What does this all mean? It’s pretty simple, actually. As humans, we constantly realize we want to live our best lives ever. If there are products out there to help us achieve that, then most of us are willing to give them a try. If there is a tip that will save us time at work or in the kitchen or help us keep our finances in order, then we will use it. If our goal is to live a fulfilling life, then gadgets and life hacks are a big part of reaching that goal. The benefits of saving time doing the mundane so we can focus on what makes us happy are reason enough to keep searching for these tips and tricks as we go through each day.