The 5 Least Effective Life Hacks People Apparently Use
There's a concept in economics called "the law of diminishing returns." Essentially, it means that you will eventually reach a point where putting more effort into something stops benefiting you and, just like your mom, it tends to go down quickly. Which, much like your mom, brings me to the Internet.
You may not have noticed, but an entire cottage industry has sprung up over a grave misunderstanding of the word "hack," and it flourishes on lesser list sites. The thing is, I'm really not sure who most of these supposed quick fixes are intended for. Most of the time, they're way more work than what you're already doing, and the results are often exactly the same. In academic terms, your rate of return (and your mom) sucks decrepit old balls. To spot a bullshit life hack, ask yourself if ...
It Requires The Acquisition Of Lots Of Little Tiny Things
Paper clips and their cousins are the currency of the life-hack world, as valuable as gold. You can use them to find the end of a roll of tape! To organize your cables! To keep your keyboard in an ergonomic position, you giant pancreas!
But can they fix your broken heart? No.
You can even use a hair clip to keep your headphones together and snap the clips off pants hangers for an instant chip clip if your need to keep your processed corn product fresh outweighs your need to not have a closet floor covered in pants.
That is the thumbs-up of a person who has given up pants forever.
And, at least in my home, those things are going to get scattered and lost in approximately two seconds. I can barely keep track of my child; you expect me to keep track of 200 paper clips? This is supposed to make my life easier, right? Because all I see are new things for me to run around screaming about not being able to find. Do you even have any hair clips? No, you don't, because those are apparently the currency of choice for the gnomes who sneak into your house at night and jack your shit, because damned if those things don't vanish within a fortnight.
If you see this bastard, you tell him there's a very frizzy lady he's got unfinished business with.
I don't understand how the tape thing works at all. It's sticky. How do you get it off without destroying the paper clip? Between losing them and destroying them, you're going to have to refill your paper-clip supply like weekly. Just do the thing where you fold the chip bag over and stick it in the cupboard upside down, and pick the tape off the roll with your fingernails like God intended. And who has plastic hangers just lying around that they're not using? Which brings me to ...
It Requires You To Become A Hoarder
Other major players in the life-hack game are the little plastic squares they use to tie off loaves of bread and the tabs from soda cans. The former is used mostly for labeling cables:
The last thing you need is for grandma to flatline because you wanted to get all sudsy.
But they can also be used to find the end of a roll of tape after you've lost all your paper clips, because apparently you're all living in the black-and-white part of the infomercial where fingernails don't exist. Soda can tabs can be used as fishing hooks, something with zippers, something with hangers -- honestly, I'm pretty confused about this soda can tab business, but I guess people fucking love them.
"Shit, now my chips are stale."
People also loved the ketchup bottle pancake trick, which I've seen shared over and over by people who are deadly fucking serious about their morning syrup sponges.
Aside from the culinary bukkake involved in getting that shit through a funnel, then sure, totally no mess.
The problem with this is that it requires me to go back in time and save all of my bread ties and soda can tabs and then not lose them like paper clips. You already have to be a very organized and diligent person who probably doesn't need any life hacks. I have to have the presence of mind to remember not to throw out my empty ketchup bottle (or just buy one and waste a bunch of ketchup, and I for one was not raised to waste perfectly good tomato corpses), then wash it out, then keep washing it out every time I want to make pancakes. Or I could just have weird-looking pancakes, because fuck, who cares?
It Requires Buying Things You Definitely Don't Have Around The House
Let me ask you something: Are there people out there who own a shoe organizer, let alone one they're not currently using? Like ... like a backup shoe organizer? What kind of person has that? I'm kind of scared of them. If you ever find that your shoe organizer inventory exceeds your shoe organizer need, there's probably a 1-800 number you can call about your shopping addiction.
But there are tons of life hacks that involve using a shoe organizer to organize everything but shoes, so there's either a lot of you out there or there's a lot of people going out to buy brand-new shoe organizers for these purposes, and I do get the feeling that this type of person is probably not OK with eating snacks out of a pouch that recently held sweaty shoes.
'Round these parts, this is what children call "a challenge."
The kind of person I'm not scared of, however, is a person who still buys physical media, because that person doesn't exist. It's an industry that is apparently thriving on people who can't figure out how to prop their phones up.
"Now who's the asshole for keeping The Best Of Color Me Badd!?!"
You'd have to be a very special kind of hoarder if you still have your old cassette cases hanging around, and I can't imagine the trajectory your life needs to take in which you a) own a CD holder, b) despite not needing to use it to hold CDs, and c) it's very important to you to keep your bagel together.
"This is way better than just eating the damn thing."
BuzzFeed even wants me to use a wine rack to hold my towels, which, OK, permit me to traipse down to my wine cellar and then beat my manservant Dickinbottom for standing idly by while I am forced to commit the indignity of doing something for myself.
He shall taste the back of my hand.
It's not a life hack if you have to go out and buy something for one specific purpose. That's called commerce. There's nothing wrong with that -- buying stuff is the most American thing you can do -- but if I'm going to go out and buy something that I will use as a towel rack, why wouldn't I just buy a towel rack? I am not too good to take two seconds to rummage around in my cupboards if it means not being the kind of asshole who has shoe organizers hung up everywhere. Or, at least, Dickinbottom isn't.
It's About Making Your Bed
Always be suspicious of someone who can fold a fitted sheet; they're definitely a wizard. Or in the military, I guess. But you know why military people learn to do that? They get their asses beat if they don't. No well-adjusted person who's not under the threat of an ass-beating needs or wants to know that, but there are inexplicably tons of people who want you to know how to do it, along with other techniques for maximum prettifying of that cushion that you keep locked away in an area of your house no one ever goes into.
BURN THE WITCH.
One blog actually recommends making your bed while you're still in it, a concept on par with cannibalism in its utter denial of the human condition. Maybe there are people in the world who just wake up singing with the bluebirds like they're Cinderella or some shit, I don't know, good for fucking them if there are, but when I first wake up, my state of mind can be best described as "startled badger." I need a cigarette, a caffeinated beverage, and a pee stop -- in that order -- before I'm even a little bit useful, and if you come at me with any hard questions at any point before then, you're risking a roundhouse kick to the spleen, because I get punchy when I get confused. Maybe that's a moral failing on my part, but my point is, if you expect me to perform some complicated operation before I even get out of bed, it better involve a dick, a situation you'll recognize as the opposite of bedmaking.
"Oh god, stop, you're making it worse!"
Here's a thought: Just don't fucking make your bed. If it's really that important to you, I'm not judging you or anything, I just have a lot of questions about your life. First off: What are you, some kind of sociopath? Who are you trying to impress? Seriously, who even goes in your bedroom? I assure you, no woman in the history of women -- and let's be honest, you're not trying to impress a dude -- has ever gotten to the point of entering another person's bedroom with sexy intentions and said, "Wow, sorry, I was totally psyched about all this sex we were about to have, but the sight of your slightly mussed sheets has inspired an epiphany. Don't call me, I'm leaving immediately for a nunnery."
If you're actually doing it for yourself, I don't even know where to start with your priorities. Do you honestly sit there helpless, crushed beneath the psychological weight of your unmade bed, unable to function unless you spend hours of your life on this Platonic ideal of a Sisyphean task? Life is too short, man. Make your peace with your crumpled duvet.
It's Just Anything Involving Folding
The most popular tip on the premier life-hacking site (you can tell because it's called Lifehacker) is a technique for folding shirts, which apparently just tons of people have problems doing. Despite their current skill level, they wish to spend many moons in the mountains training with a grizzled old laundry master to learn how to do this:
And I can't for the life of me figure out why. OK, so it only takes two seconds. You know what also takes two seconds? Just shoving your clothes into a drawer and not caring if they're a little wrinkled. Admittedly, my privilege might be showing here, but I'm going to assume you are also a young West-Coast urbanite who works on the Internet and only leaves the house by force. If not, OK, hang up your work clothes -- they'll look a lot nicer than if you folded them, and it won't take nearly as many hours out of your life as you'll spend trying to master this voodoo. But for your yoga pants and T-shirts and shit? Adopting an attitude of joyful, shameless apathy takes .0001 seconds. Go ahead, try it right now.
The only mountain I want anything to do with.
If you really need help with this, though, I have a couple of real-world life hacks for you, for this situation and this situation only. You ready for some street hacks, motherfuckers?
1) Wear a low-cut shirt. I'm not sure how or why this works, but it magically disguises everything. Bad hair day? Scrunch that shit up into a bun, slam on a low-cut shirt. No time for makeup? Sunglasses, low-cut shirt. I guarantee you no one is noticing how wrinkled that shirt is. The yoga pants work mysteriously similarly. Disclaimer: This does not seem to work for men, and they will express their resentment with repeated requests for your phone number, presumably so they can send you useless life hacks to discourage this strategy's use. Do not be swayed.
"It'll cost you 10 paper clips."
2) If you have a dryer in your home, you can just throw your clothes in there for 10 minutes while you do something else. Take a shower, jerk off, summon the Dark Lord Vuzulu -- maybe all three, whatever, I don't know your life. When you take your clothes out, they'll be unwrinkled and all warm and cozy. Best of all, you don't have to learn any fucking magic tricks, and you can get back to what you really need to do: apologize to the Dark Lord. Come on, have some shame.
The only thing Manna doesn't half-ass are her tweets. That's art.
For more from Manna, check out 5 Awkward Things Nobody Tells You Everyday Technology Does and 5 Reasons We're In the Middle of a Dumb Anti-Photoshop Panic .
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