The Real Use for Productivity “Hacks”

The Real Use for Productivity “Hacks”

Over the past few years, the internet has become home to endless lists and slideshows of “hacks” – ideas for making some everyday thing or activity better, easier, faster, or cheaper.


The name hack is given to everything from useful little cleaning tricks to some pretty unhealthy cooking ideas. An increasing number of satires have sprung up thanks to the fact that so many hacks are just common sense or consist of random things that someone could possibly do, but that aren’t especially convenient or innovative.

People looking for advice on how to fulfill their ambitions are quick to run into “productivity hacks.” The phrase yields more than four million hits on Google and has become a mainstay on goal-focused sites.

Career sites are home to numerous articles on how to be more productive, of course, but these lists are a little different. Some sites are devoted solely to posting these hacks. So what exactly do people mean by productivity hacks?

These bits of advice are usually supposed to be neat little tricks, things you wouldn’t normally think to do. But more often than not, productivity hacks are just basic advice.

Is staying off Facebook when you’re trying to work really a “hack”? Looking at some of the top career and business magazines, you would think that some pretty ambitious people need to be told this. Many of the top-ranking lists even offer eating healthy, drinking water, and getting exercise as a productivity hack.
Why do so many simple tips get marketed as hacks or special revelations from creative entrepreneurs, talented musicians, and inspiring community leaders?

Part of it is simply the desire to capture attention. A few original, creative websites talked about hacks, they became popular, and it became a good idea to make the simple change from “tips” to “hacks.” It does sound cooler, right?
Just like exercise, “productivity hacks” searches get big spikes around January 1st. This shows the essence of what makes productivity hacks, advice, and tips so popular. Like the New Year, they promise improvement, the chance to do more, be more, and work towards our ambitions.

This is the real value of productivity “hacks.” Even when the advice is simple or commonsense, it can remind of us to correct the bad habits we’ve let creep into our study hours or work day. It reminds us that simple tasks can make all the difference in our success. With a little luck, our hard work will pay off.

And it is the actual composition of these lists of hacks is also an important reminder of what it will take to really succeed. Productivity hacks aren’t the same as the interesting everyday tricks for preventing wrinkles in your clothes or verified tips for speed-reading. They are aimed at helping you do your work, but they can’t guarantee that your work will be done.

Productivity tips can inspire and make tasks easier, but it’s up to you to find the right rhythm and the methods that work best for you. Once you set the stage for how you will stay organized and motivated, you need to do the work. Productivity is usually measured in output and steps completed, but for most of your ambitions, productivity will ultimately be measured by results.






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