Updated: May 25
There’s a lot of talk these days, about the truly amazing, incredible, wonderful, life transforming benefits to hacking your life (even the sound of that term conjures up a visual for me of some knife wielding maniac).
A term that originated from computer programmers who were under immense information overload and wanted to accelerate their work-flow. Wiki says that Life-Hacking is “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency”. The internet is all over it with questions like “Are you struggling to meet expectations and carry the weight of responsibilities?” and statements like “100 ways to tweak your life so that it’s easier”. One site has even called their life hacking site The University of Life (I mean, really?). The bottom line is that life hacking will apparently ENHANCE your life (no fillers, filters or Filipino pool guys necessary.)
On the face of it, this all sounds like good shit right? Who doesn’t want things to be easier?
Well, I’d just like to inform you that I’ve been there, got the T-shirt and accelerating your workflow is not all it’s cracked up to be.
I spent a good deal of my 30’s being in this kind of rushed, pushed, heavy workload, in my career, in my Master’s degree at university and as a mother. There was so much to DO in my day that I was hungry (okay I was desperate) for ways to make what I had to do easier. No actually, I wanted it to be shorter, so I could have more time. More. Time. Just the sound of that elicited hefty fantasies of “relaxing” and “slowing down”
The reality was in a galaxy far far away…
The reality was that when I hacked a daily chore, like say putting on the washing and hanging it out the night before then yes, I did have more time. Yay - but guess what I DID with that time? More Bloody Things.
When I had a bit more time in my day I no longer knew HOW to relax or slow down, hell, I was already on a boy-racer’s-car speed of 0-100 in the blink of non-mascarred eye (no time for indulgences like make-up anymore). From the moment I opened my eyes in the morning I was running a mental itinerary of 'All The Things To Do' that day and the faster I did them, the faster I ticked them off the list, the more sense of success I felt (as fucked up as that sounds it’s a true story).
So I would life-hack and create a tiny bit of time and fill that up with something else, then I would try and life hack that and create some more time, and then fill that up with something else … you get the picture. Eventually I became so successful at life hacking that I would regularly have 30-40 things on my List of Things To Do on a daily. Success right there – boom.
Not only was this kind of living unsustainable, it gave me no sustenance. When you live life at the speed of speed there’s no time to enjoy it. When you rush from one thing to the next you live inevitably in your head, in your thoughts, constantly thinking of the thing you need to do NEXT instead of what you’re doing right now.
And right now is called The Present Moment.
It’s true too, that being in the present is like a present because it brings us such joy and contentment. People who live in the present (like monks, meditators, yogis…and now me) contain a deep sense of allowance for what IS and don’t get reactive to things as much (like holy fuck things used to irritate me chronic).
So I’ve been rebelling against things that encourage me to shorten my joy, my contentment, my peace. This year I’ve been deliberately choosing things that take a LONG time to really cement a new way of being. I’ve been making bread buns FROM SCRATCH. And if anyone has ever followed the Edmonds cookbook they will know that this kind of carry on takes HOURS. First you mix the yeast – and then you wait. Next you mix it into the flour and knead it – and while it raises, you wait. Next you knead it again and form buns – and while it raises again, you wait. Then you cook them – and wait. The waiting part, while once upon a day would have me cringing with 2 year old impatience, now has me butterflies in the tummy excited for the next stage. I truly relish in the length of time, and count myself as so lucky to have the TIME now to do something so indulgent.
Choosing is the key I’ve found. I hear so many people, mainly mothers, claiming that they just HAVE to do all those things on their lists. They tell me in the clinic (often with tears and always with apathy) that it feels like they have no choice, it’s stuff that HAS to be done.
It’s not true my friends.
Your life is full of possibilities that you haven’t even realised – yet (I hear ya coming).
Step one is asking the question (and this is an Access Consciousness tool) “What else is possible here?” and then just keep asking questions from there “What would it take for me to have some more time?” “What am I not seeing, that if I did see, could make my life easier and more joyful?”
When we live in the question instead of the answer (i.e. THIS is what I need to make things better) we open up a greater energy, we put it out to the universe that we are ready for things to change and we don’t know HOW it’s going, but that we are willing to receive how it might show up.
For me, I ended up moving house to a street that had BOTH my kids schools on it. So they biked or walked and I no longer had to drop off and pick up to school. You Have No Idea how much this changed my life – and created me more time.
I consciously choose to no longer fill my days with so many things to do. I learnt that some things can wait. In fact, almost everything can wait. I let go (yes I did Frozen).
When we do things that take a long time we can relax into the knowing that “it will take a long time” rather than wishing it was quicker.
The real reason we want more time is because we yearn for the feeling of space, more space in our heads, without all the thinking, thinking , thinking going on. And when there’s more space in our heads we can be more present, more In-The-Moment, more mindful. And THIS my friends is where happiness and contentment lie. In the now, not in the perceived future. So you can Life-Hack away your life if you like, or, you can choose to embrace the slow and appreciate each moment of your wonderful and glorious life.
For more info on being more mindful and In-The-Moment have a look at my online courses. To learn how to bake bread from scratch check out the NZ Edmonds cookbook. Both breadmaking and mindfulness are actually really easy, you’ll see.