By Kenny Mah
According to Wikipedia, the term life hack refers to “any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way.”
Which got me thinking, rather than listing down one vague, generic resolution after another (and subsequently not taking any action), why not use life hacks (borrowed from entrepreneur-author Tim Ferriss with links below) to create specific habits and behaviours for the new year? Well, here goes nothing …
Ferriss offers the possibility of losing 20 pounds of fat using his Slow Carb Diet. Shouldn’t hurt to try, ja? His rules:
- Avoid “white” carbohydrates
- Eat the same few meals over and over again
- Don’t drink calories
- Take one day off per week
I’m Malaysian and I love my rice (the Cantonese affectionately call folks like me a fan tong 飯桶 or “rice bin”). So there’s no way I’m giving up my nasi lemak and Hainanese chicken rice. Instead, I will have a smaller portion of rice and avoid the other “white” carbs I’m not that crazy about like pasta. Don’t waste your calories.
I’ll make sure to include proteins and vegetables (dark, leafy greens are the best) with every meal but avoid legumes (my reduced rice intake should still be sufficient to “fill me up”). No more ice-blended frappucinos for me; I’ll have plain H2O spiked with wedges of fresh lemon, thank you.
And I can’t wait for Saturdays — my “Eat All You Want” reward day!
RELEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
I’m planning to visit both Paris and Munich this year but on different trips. I had taken a very basic French course when I was at university over a decade ago while I can still manage some conversational Deutsch left over from when I was studying/living in Germany.
Here’s what Ferriss suggests ahead of revisiting a country where you used to have some command of the language. It’s focused yet very do-able.
For the French, I plan to stick to the phrasebook and the French art films (there are so many excellent ones I’ve yet to watch – Michael Haneke’s Amour and the Marion Cotillard-starrer De rouille et d’os being two examples). I only want to relearn enough to not get lost in Paris and order food without offending any Parisians through my butchering their mother tongue.
More intensive work will be needed for brushing up mein Deutsch though – I plan to have complete conversations with my Bavarian friends whom I’ve not met in years. This means searching for my favourite X-Men and Sandman comics translated into German and, uhm, studying them religiously.
After all, I never know when it might be useful to inform a local that “Ich bin nicht eine Mutante.” (No special powers here, not unless you count life hacking.)
That’s it for me, for now. And what about you? Do share what you would like to change or improve, and how. Get busy hacking your life too!