By Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth
Program Director, Reverse Logistics at American Public University
There is a lot of buzz these days about life hacks, like it is a new concept we should all try. It seems to me that we have all been doing life hacking all along. One example that comes to mind is what we do with our luggage when flying. You know, we all went out and purchased that great set of suitcases, only to find out that so did everyone else who flies, and they are all black or blue in color and identical in shape. In order to differentiate our belongings from others we used leftover sticky stars of bright colors and placed them on each side of each piece of luggage. Often we see the luggage coming off the conveyor belt at airports with all sorts of ribbons and brightly colored tape plastered all over it. This is an easy life hack we usually look past.
Then there’s the hack to help my small dog walk with a mountain of snow around. A tarp that I use to cover things in the yard laid over the front of the steps of the house and anchored with bricks and/or long golf tees does the trick. The next morning after the snow’s stopped, I go out, find an edge of the tarp and pull. Instant snow clearing!
Now for a vanity hack. I have a cousin by marriage who works in Hollywood, Grace Zabriskie. After a stage play was over and all the audience had left, she took our shy then-14-year-old son up on stage and taught him a few theatrical tricks. One that changed his life, she advised, was when being photographed always turn your chin up just a hair, just a little. She said it gives your appearance a more elegant image. Notice all important people who have their photos taken. Their chin is slightly raised. That’s a hack that works for everyone.
Lastly, for you culinary hopefuls out there, take a page from my wife, who is also a waste-not, want-not kind of person. Buy a pound of bacon, cut it in half width wise and freeze the slices on parchment paper. When frozen, transfer to a freezer container (they stack nicely without sticking when frozen) so that when we want a couple of slices there’s no fear they might have been too long in the fridge. They cook quickly from frozen. No waste of either fridge space or money through spoilage.
While I have been thinking of life hacks, an idea that might help at work came to mind. Why not have a white board set up outside a meeting room (with markers) and the label “Have a new idea?” or simply “New Ideas.” Encourage people to write a new or innovative idea related to the work you do. Someone out there must have a short cut or new way of getting something done. Spend no more than 15 minutes talking about some of the ideas listed. This simple hack could lead to some great workplace interactions!
Anybody else out there with me on this? What are your money and time-saving techniques? Share them here.
About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is the Program Director for the Reverse Logistics Management. Previously, he was a tenured Associate Professor of Logistics at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His Ph.D. is in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University. His book, RFID Metrics, examines how we define problems such as reverse logistics.