Esperanto Language Blog

Lifehacking at JES Posted by on Jan 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Lifehacking brainstorming: day 1

Judith Meyer told me that whenever she goes to an Esperanto event, she gets more ideas in that week than in the entire year that follows. So many new things to try, to read, to learn, to work on… There isn’t an Esperanto speaker that isn’t involved in an interesting project, or hasn’t found some great way to improve their life. This time, at the Youth Esperanto Week, she decided to take the exchange of ideas to an extreme by actually setting aside a session for it. Not to give a lecture, but rather a communal brain-storming session on life-hacking. This consisted of two sessions of one hour each. We actually had enough to discuss for that time and more, but we unfortunately had to leave the room, because another session was scheduled then.

She started by outlining categories on the blackboard: motiveco, tempo/productiveco, korpo kaj menso, ĝojo, etc. Then, she let participants suggest anything related to them. It was amazing how many suggestions poured in! What’s even more amazing is that the results of the second session (with an almost completely different group) were completely different from the results of the first group, and there was almost no overlap in the suggestions!

That is why she decided to not just send bullet points of the suggestions, but rather spend the time to write up a brief summary of everything for those who might not have been here. Feel free to read find the final Esperanto Lifehacking document – and for those whose Esperanto isn’t good enough yet, I’ve translated the entire document into English below.

More motivation (how to get started)

  • task list with indicated times can help you know which task is good to do when, or to convince yourself that a task is less scary than you thought.
  • 5 minute tasks are even more motivating, because they put you at ease – and maybe you will even want to continue after 5 minutes.
  • structured procrastination – when a large drudge project has to be done (like writing a school paper), some people become very active in unrelated projects (for example: website programming). Even cleaning the house seems like an incredibly interesting task then. you can exploit that by choosing a large, non-urgent project, mentally making it sound bigger and more threatening, then manage to do lots of less threatening drudge projects while “avoiding” that large one.
  • trial month – if you’re not sure whether something is worth trying (like becoming a vegetarian or exercising daily), promise to yourself that you’ll just try it out for a month, and then you can decide whether to continue or not.
  • goals group – a club, which support each other to accomplish their goals by giving advice, and by making each other accountable
  • Tadoku and the 6 Week Challenge – special Internet goal groups, who friendly compete about reading foreign languages (Tadoku) or language learning (6 Week Challenge)
  • — website where you can post your goals and report on your progress. They also support group challenges.
  • unscheduling – if a daily agenda seems too stressful, try an agenda where you only put your favorite activities (surfing the web, etc). If you see those fun hours coming up, maybe you’d like to get some work done before then.

More time or productivity (how to get more done)

  • polyphasic sleep – the most radical method for having more time is to sleep less. To accomplish this, you have to sleep many times a day. There are different plans, which people get used to (and live that way for a half year or longer), for example sleeping 20 minutes every 4 hours – that way you have 22 hours every day for activities. Polyphasic sleep is not recommended if you don’t know what to do with those extra hours every day.
  • Getting Things Done (GTD) – famous project planning system, which can’t really be summarized
  • time boxing – imagine that one box is [for example] 30 minutoj, then plan your day around 30 minute „boxes,“ and do only one thing during each box.
  • energetic times – during a day, there are high-quality and low-quality times. High-quality is when you have a lot of energy and feel active. Plan your activities by that – for example, clean the house when you don’t have the mind to learn and vice versa. Best, note how much energy you have every hour for a week, so that you can learn your natural rhythms and plan ahead.
  • website blocking – a lot of time is wasted online. Through browser plugins like StayFocusd, you can prevent yourself from accessing specific websites during work hours or for a certain amount of time every day.
  • ThingsToDoChrome plugin, which changes your „blank“ page (when you open a new window) into a task list, to hinder wasteful web surfing.
  • 5 things for me – make a list of 5 things, which you’d like to do, which are good for you, for example reading a book, exercising, etc. Later, try to do as many of them as you can everyday, but they shouldn’t feel like an obligation, but rather as a joy.
  • Google Calendar – a great tool for coordinating your day

Lifehacking brainstorming: day 2

More joy / happiness (enjoy your life)

  • think about what makes you happy – and write notes about that. Many people don’t really think about what they really want to do in live, and that’s why they’re not happy. Think about your situation, where you live, your workplace, your projects, your friends, and choose what you really want.
  • Refuse
    to Choose!
    – a great book for people with many diverse interests; it tells you how to manage your interests, finish projects, find a suitable job etc.
  • respect your choices – think hard about choices when you make them, but don’t worry if should’ve chosen differently than you did. A study shows that this conundrum will make you unhappy, regardless of your decision.
  • be grateful – it doesn’t matter whether you believe in God, just think about what’s good in your life and be happy about it. To remember that, maybe pin up some post it notes with questions like, „why are you thankful today?“ in the bathroom and other places in your home. Or make a habit of noting 3 things that made you happy that day, every evening.
  • Polyamory – it’s wrong to think that people can only love one other person, or that they have to decide between two partners; one indeed also doesn’t ask their mother which child she most loves. Polyamory means that you can have more than one partner – not secretly, but openly, honestly, with respect for everyone’s feelings and limits (one can make rules). Loving more and receiving more love can be a very joyful experience.
  • rethink touching – every society has unwritten (often different) rules about what you may do with an acquaintance, friend, or boy/girlfriend. For example, can you carress a friend? Massage? Those rules are worth reconsidering. Don’t make a rule for a group, but think about what kinds of touches are welcome from which friends, or how would you be ready to touch them, for example to comfort. Specifically men rarely are ready to touch each other, even hug, but a touch totally doesn’t mean you’re gay nor that you’re ready to make love. Animals often touch only to make others feel better or to express friendship.
  • free hugs – in modern society, there is often a lack of consoling/friendly touching, specifically for those who don’t have a boy/girlfriend or parents and who often feel alone. The Free Hugs movement offers hugs to strangers, really to anyone whatsoever who approaches the huggers, no strings attached. Senpagaj brakumoj [free hugs] t-shirts can be ordered from Spreadshirt
  • confront fears – often fears are larger than the anticipated problems. Confront fears to free yourself. If needed, find a helper, who can face the fear with you.
  • fake laugh/smile – just the physical movement of your mouth already creates a happy feeling, so fake a laugh or smile to later feel real joy.
  • smile at everyone – one smile causes others. You could try an experiment: during one day, smile at everyone, and see what happens.
  • don’t think too hard about no’s – a no to your request does not mean a rejection of you as a person. If you ask for something and it’s turned down, maybe it just wasn’t the right time. It doesn’t relate to you.
  • learn to sing – singing makes life more beautiful

Body and mind

  • body and mind are linked – if one isn’t feeling well, the other usually does not feel well, so take care of your body and your mind.
  • Convict
    by Paul „Coach“ Wade
    – a book which proposes an effective training method without any tools and takes just 10-15 minutes three times per week.
  • – a website where you can note your exercise, like a social game, with levels, missions, achievements, etc.
  • note which food tires you and which gives you energy – people often find that they have little energy after eating, specifically after heavy meals or those with complex sugars or flour.
  • consider [part-time] vegetarianism – even just a reduction in meat intake in your life is good for nature and your body
  • always carry water with you – drinking a lot of water greatly contributes to feeling well. To be sure that you trink enough, always carry a water bottle with you and keep a glass of water next to your computer.
  • try green smoothies – drinks based on green vegetables give you a lot of energy
  • sleep well – if you get used to regular sleeping times, your body will make your sleep more efficient and you will fell better.
  • 20-minute naps – if you can’t focus well in the afternoon, a 20-minute nap will give you new energy and a clear mind. Don’t sleep longer though, because then you will fall into deep sleep and wake up feeling more tired than before.
  • medidate – meditation can help you think more clearly and lower the voice in your head.
  • try hypnotism – hypnotism is not a cult as shown on TV, but rather a useful tool for removing fears, bad habits, bad feelings or ways of acting. You can even hypnotize yourself to reach and edit your unconscience, but it is easier once your first show yourself how to reach a hypnotic state.


  • don’t use cards – credit and debit cards confuse your sense about paid money, you will more easily spend large sums. That’s why you should use cash whenever possible.
  • budget at least twice a year – you should have a general idea of how much you earn and spend during a usual month. That might be too much work to do everyday, but it’s worth doing a few times each year.

Computer work

  • good work area – your work area should be in order and well-lit, so you can best concentrate on your work.
  • change from QWERTY to another layout like Colemak, so that you can avoid painful issues with your hands in the future (or even now!).
  • use your computer standing up – a revolutionary change, which will hugely help your spine. Google “standing desk” for example.
  • f.lux – a program which darkens your screen at night, to make it easier on your eyes and so that you’ll naturally fall asleep easier.

Which ideas did you find most useful? Do you have any lifehacking tips of your own? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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About the Author: Chuck Smith

I was born in the US, but Esperanto has led me all over the world. I started teaching myself Esperanto on a whim in 2001, not knowing how it would change my life. The timing couldn’t have been better; around that same time I discovered Wikipedia in it’s very early stages and launched the Esperanto version. When I decided to backpack through Europe, I found Esperanto speakers to host me. These connections led me to the Esperanto Youth Organization in Rotterdam, where I worked for a year, using Esperanto as my primary language. Though in recent years I’ve moved on to other endeavors like iOS development, I remain deeply engrained in the Esperanto community, and love keeping you informed of the latest news. The best thing that came from learning Esperanto has been the opportunity to connect with fellow speakers around the globe, so feel free to join in the conversation with a comment! I am now the founder and CTO of the social app Amikumu.