Hacking diets, hacking sleep, hacking homework, hacking workouts, hacking language learning. Despite being a shortcut, life hacks work because they still require effort—they are the perfect placebo.
Fortunately, we live in a digital age where apps help us develop strong habits. We can learn French more efficiently in 5-minutes on Duolingo a day than paying for a 45-minute class. The 7-minute daily workout is scientifically proven to strengthen our core muscles. Simplifying learning and exercise not only save time, but they also produce real results.
As imperfect humans, we seek guides to life that sustain encouragement and don't take a full-time commitment– we strive for good enough. Yes, we can just as easily avoid effort by medicating our problems away–taking an Adderall to get to work, drinking a Coffiest instead of eating breakfast and drinking coffee, or skipping the gym to get weight loss surgery. But those are shortcuts that force an unnatural behavior. What we long for is a system of practices that lead to natural results.
The reason we yield to bad habits is that we either can't control our resistance or don't care enough to find an alternative. The trick, therefore, is performing small successful actions like doing one push-up until we can do five.
Once we get started, according to the Zeigarnik effect, we're less likely to give up. Life hacks not only kickstart positive habits; they help them stick around. The only way to reap the rewards is to do the work.