450 'Lifehacking' Ways to Save Time and Money

MTOne suggestion from the lifehacking community involves a free — and illegal — approach to drive-through dining.
Alexander Borman says the hustle and bustle of modern life is wearing him down.

Like many other big city residents, a deficit of spare time and energy, coupled with costs of living that just keep climbing, are taking their toll.

So in an attempt to cope, Borman founded a community on LiveJournal.com where he has been joined by hundreds of other bloggers in practicing and preaching "lifehacking."

What they offer is more than 450 creative -- and sometimes illegal -- ways people can save time, money and effort in their everyday lives. Some have been tested in practice, while others remain in the realm of theory and might give rise to some skepticism, but they all appeal to a particular kind of ethic.

"Lifehacking is a lifestyle for the lazy, greedy and crafty," Borman said in an e-mail interview. "Or, to put it more pleasantly, those who don't want to exert themselves; for the thrifty and clever."

For many members of this electronic community, giving their creative instincts free reign appears to be more important than saving time and money. Some of the offerings appear to involve more work than the problems they are meant to circumvent.

One member, for example, offers a sophisticated method for getting hot water out of a tap during the annoying annual shut-off for work on the pipes.

The solution involves attaching a hose to the discharge pipe of a washing machine and then selecting the appropriate laundry cycle to regulate the temperature of the water that comes out.

The amount of work involved might be more than simply boiling the water in a kettle or on the stove, but other community members praised the ingenuity involved all the same.

While the basic example calls for the machine to be empty while using it to shower, "true" lifehackers would also toss in some socks to save time and electricity, the author of the idea wrote on the site.

"Many, including myself, just create various lifehacks, but never practice them -- either for ethical reasons or because of laziness,'' Borman said.

"It's fun and interesting to read," he said.

Alexander founded his LiveJournal community in October, but the term lifehack goes back a few years

It originated in computer-programming circles, where British technology journalist Danny O'Brien carried out an unscientific survey of the work habits of superproductive programmers. He discovered that rather than complex programs or technology, many used simple approaches like e-mailing themselves notes to manage their lives.

O'Brien presented his findings at a technology conference in San Diego, California, and the term he coined spread through the techie and blogging community.

The meaning has expanded in common use to include anything that solves an everyday problem in a creative or nonobvious way.

Borman provided the simple example of people carrying plastic bottles with them for drinking water instead of buying a new one every time they get thirsty, something he does himself.

Most of the examples on the site are a bit more involved, and some are of questionable legality or effectiveness.

For example, one suggestion for making some extra money is to order 1,000 rubles' worth of 1 kopek coins from a bank then sell them for scrap metal at 50 rubles per kilo. The sale of the coins should generate 6,500 rubles ($278) more than their original cost, the posting claims.

One shopping tip involves breaking off the stalks when buying bananas, thus saving money when they are weighed. Placing a basin of water under a radiator eliminates the need to spend money on a humidifier.

One proposal involving McDonald's drive-throughs clearly falls outside the boundaries of the law and firmly within the definition of theft.

Generally, drivers order at one window and then pick up their orders at a second. The trick in this case is to place an order at the first window but then tell the cashier that you have forgotten your money at home and cancel the order. Then, the driver pulls up to the next window, waits for the car behind to place an order and takes the food.

"Lifehackers don't have common [ethical] principles, as we are not a boy scout organization," Borman said. He did add, however, that each lifehacker had his or her own standards.

For those who are interested in this more creative approach to problem-solving, online classes in Russian have been offered since April.

The online course, called Lifehacker, is run by Dextera Development, a Czech company founded by Russian expatriate Vitaly Kolesnik, that specializes in developing programs to teach people to develop their creativity.

"The course was created specially for Russia," Kolesnik said in an e-mail interview. "A version adapted to suit a Western mindset will appear in the next six months."

Three people have subscribed to the course so far, Kolesnik said.

One of them, Maksim Kovalyov, a 19-year-old programmer from Moscow, said the course is helping him both work and relax more effectively.

"I read a lot of professional blogs and have had difficulty picking out the most important things," Kovalyov said. "I've learned how to remember information better from the course."