life hacking

What can we hack out of this then!?

Life-Hacking is a fun sport to take part in, and more importantly it saves you both time and money by running your life more efficiently. This tends to lead to better, improved and happier version of yourself, so why not give it a try?

Now there are many sites out there already dedicated to specific Life Hacks and while they are definitely worth keeping an eye of for good ideas, I have found that the most entertaining way of hacking your life is to look closely at your own situation and coming up with things yourself. This requires that tired old maxim “thinking outside of the box” 1, well it may be tired but it’s more relevant than ever nowadays with “groupthink” becoming more widespread due to t’internet and social media.

To show you my approach to customised life hacking 2 I’d like to present a few of my recent life hacks and the thinking behind them:


1. Free Daily Sports Massage

I’m doing more and more exercise recently and am constantly feeling achey from tired muscles after squash, running, and even golf. Apparently a sports massage will not only set me back between 40-80 flipping quid, it will take up to 90 minutes. Sorry pal, I don’t have the time nor money for that sort of thing! Life hack to the rescue!

So I have started giving myself a more vigorous rub down 3 both pre/during and post soaping in the shower, rather than just standing there and letting gravity and water doing most of the work as usual. This takes no longer than a usual shower and really invigorates you for the day, and is one reason why I am up on the train at 6:30 writing this article for you! Which brings us neatly onto number…


2. Train Timetable Fun

Long time readers will know I am no big fan of my current commute, which involves around 1 hour 15 minutes of fighting for a seat, standing on a packed train, and waiting at the hellish place they call Clapham Junction. You go onto and look for train times and they instantly assume that everyone needs to get from A to B as quickly as humanly possible, which I guess is a fair assumption. However, I’d rather travel slower but get a seat so I can use my time more productively.

In fact, due to the change at CJ, I’d rather, in a weird way, be on a train for 50 minutes and get a good 40-45 minute stint on the laptop than be on the 35 minute fast train, and only get 25-30. Because by the time you sit down, get the laptop out, load up a few pages, and get into the flow of reading or writing, and then packing it all back into the bag at the other end, this eats at least 5-10 minutes of your productive journey time up – especially with writing, it is hard to get into any flow in only 25 minutes.

And let’s not forget on the faster train, which leaves at 7:08 in the damn morning, I am probably only 50/50 to get a seat anyway.

And then it might be crammed in the middle of two smelly/obese people, with no room or privacy to write insults about them on my blog 🙂

Anyway the simple, yet mildly “outside of the box” solution is clearly to opt for a slower train (apparently no one likes going anywhere slowly any more!). I have done this on occasion in the past and it worked well but recently I’ve been doing it 4 out of 5 days, and it’s working really well. Blog reading/writing is well up on last year already, and I still get into work at 8am ready for the day. The one drawback? I am on the 6:26 train rather than the 7:08. But for those 42 minutes less in bed, I am getting around 1 hour extra blog reading/writing time (or anything else I decide to do, including sometimes have an extra 10 minute snooze on my lovely seat, which was previously hard to do standing up on the later train). It’s a big win for me, and I feel like blogging has become fun again rather than a chore that eats into my evening time with the Mrs.


3. Not Bringing Lunch To Work

This is actually a reverse of the reverse of conventional thinking, so I like this one even more.

The conventional thinking is to do whatever is most convenient, i.e. you buy lunch at work; in the canteen, local sandwich shop or better yet, the greasy burger van. Mmmm… I can taste the heart attack waiting to happen now 🙂

The PF community flip this one on it’s head and say it’s so much cheaper to “Brown Bag” your lunches, and in most cases they are correct. I have therefore followed this advice rather blindly for the most part of the last 1.5 years, and have been happy with the results. However I have noticed that our staff canteen seems to have become better value over the years, to the point that I started to really take notice a few months ago. It turns out that I can get a large tasty bowl of soup/broth for just 50p. So I’ve flipped the unconventional take on work lunches back on it’s own head, and have been either bringing in bread/rolls to have with the 50p soup, or pre-cooked rice to mix in to make a kind of risotto. Both options are very tasty!

This works great as the soup is different every day. Making your own large batch of soup at home to bring in is also a great idea but you get bored of the same soup every day pretty quickly, and I’d be hard pressed to beat 50p per portion by a significant measure after factoring in energy to cook it anyway.

There are other, more expensive options on the menu of course, and the trick is to avoid the temptation of those if possible. However I have dabbled with the £1.50 meals which include meat, sauce and a jacket spud or rice, which are generally very tasty. Again you’d be doing well to beat these meals on price if you cooked them yourself. There are also £2.50 meals, which don’t seem to offer anything extra over the £1.50 ones worth shouting about, and puddings/other extras on offer which I have avoided. I’m not a millionaire 😉

Also worth noting, I still make my own lunch probably 50% of the time, as I still like doing this, but there are no hard and fast rules anymore!


 4. Making New Shit Out Of Old Shit

Everyone loves new shit. Not many people like old shit. Therefore I think a really good skill to acquire is how to make new shit out of old shit! Not only are you saving items/materials from getting dumped in a land fill, you are also generally saving money (by not having to buy new shit). Upcycling is the dogs doo-dahs as far as I am concerned and is something I want to get into more in the future. This requires creativity and lot’s of lateral thinking, seeing how you can make something new out of something old, so it’s also happens to be great fun and rewarding when you manage to create something.

For my first attempt: The previous owners of our house left a cruddy old trampoline in our garden which is unsafe for human use (how kind of them!). The picture at the top of the post is after I’d deconstructed it. I’m going to try to build a composter out of these materials. It’s going ok so far, I’ve worked out a plan and prepared an area to put it, I just need to glue some of the bits together and saw a few old bits of wood to nail the poles together and it will be done. It likely won’t look “rustic” as many upcycled articles tend to, but it will hopefully be functional.

I am also going to try to reclaim some of the other metal poles and use them along with some old wooden palettes 4 to try to make a bike shed.


Now Run Free, Young Life Hackers…

The key takeaway here is to weigh up your own options rather than listening to conventional, unconventional, or any kind of advice solicited upon you from friends, family, newspapers and blogs (including this one of course!). I know this is what most intelligent human beings do anyway, but I still have to catch myself from time to time when I see a “good tip” and just start to action it, or engage in the default action (like the train timetables) just because that is the only option presented, without any critical thinking whatsoever.

Get your thinking cap on, start looking closely at your own life situations and where you can optimise, and come and let me know what you can come up with!

And remember…

Yipee Ki Yay Mother Hackers!


Yipee Ki Yay, Mother Hackers!

Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox


  1. David Brent would be loving this post right now
  2. Rather than for you to employ these specific tips, although hopefully they will be useful to some as well!
  3. Please note any “happy ending” gags in the comments will be deleted! 🙂
  4. Any ideas on where to source free pallets from by the way? I’ve noticed a warehouse type thing round the corner has a big stack of them, do I just go and ask if I can have some!?