My Top Three Life Hacks, How to Enjoy Work, Feminist Physique Training, and More

Here is a long-ass interview I did with Fierce in the City, on the topics of gentlewomanliness, passive income, the GRE, boxing, abs, life hacking, work-life balance, and working naked.

Here’s an excerpt:

What are your top three life hacks for getting things done and achieving your goals?

Ha! Well, first, let me say that I may have a complicated relationship with the phrase “life hack,” as a result of using it in this article: When Life Hacking Is Really White Privilege.

This article came out in December and kind of made my internet blow up (I did find it rather quaint when a Twitter harasser suggested that “all the normal white people” invited me to “jump off a bridge.”)

But some commenters were a little confused – understandably so – about my use of the term “life hacking,” which often involves techniques like, “Get this stain out of your shirt with a potato!” or “Organize your cords with old toilet paper tubes!”, which, as far as I know, don’t present any pressing social justice issues. I was objecting more to the “life hacking” tips that involve outsourcing your dirty work to foreign virtual assistants that you then proceed to belittle, or that involve “mind control” or “persuasion” techniques that a lot of us would just call “bullying,” or “obliviously skating by on your privilege.”

ANYWAY.

1. Inbox zero is not important. There is no prize for an empty inbox. If I came over and threw away all of your books, would you be like, “Oh, awesome, an empty shelf!” You are not required to reply to every email. By the same token, you are not required to answer the phone (at least when you are not working for a boss). My phone ringer has been off for ten years. I do not jump when someone rings a bell. Also by the same token, you are not required to answer the door when someone rings the bell. You don’t need a reason or excuse. You don’t have to say “I was in the shower” if your neighbor later asks you about it. You can say, “I usually don’t answer doorbells or phone calls when I’m concentrating on something.”

2. You don’t need a really organized, super-comprehensive to-do list. Sure, write down deadlines somewhere. Pay your bills on time. But you don’t forget the really important things. If you have Evernote plus a small notebook plus some scraps of paper plus some emails to yourself that, all together, make up your to-do list, I’ll bet I could come over and delete them all, and you might have a panic attack, but the next morning you could get up and write down on one index card what the most important things are. If it’s important and compelling, you don’t forget. That’s why it’s probably written in ten different places already. You can keep your messy pile of redundant to-do lists. Just decide in the morning – or preferably, the night before – what’s most important. If something is never what’s most important, ask why. Does it go against your values? Is it on the list because you feel like it should be, but you don’t have a good reason? What’s the worst that happens if you let it go without guilt?

3. I don’t fold sheets. My house is clean and organized, and I believe in freshly washed, hotel-style white sheets. But folding sheets is a two-person job, and the bottom sheet is stupid, and it’s not worth anyone’s time. I take my laundry out of the dryer and loosely arrange a complete set of sheets and pillowcases in an attractive basket. Three such baskets sit next to each other in my laundry room. Done. It’s downright Pinterest-worthy, if I do say so myself.

Read the rest of the interview on Fierce in the City