Lifehacker Extraordinaire Dave Hax Shares His Secrets

Lifehackers challenge even the basic skills of life — like folding a shirt or tying shoes — and find the most efficient or easiest ways to do them. (Photo: Screenshot from video).

We've all heard the expression "think outside the box" but there's one group of people on the Internet who get the gold star for that kind of creative thinking: lifehackers. These intrepid men and women look at everyday life and think: "We can make it better, faster, easier or smarter!" And for that, the rest of us are eternally grateful — especially when they share their solutions via videos.

Dave Hax (not surprisingly, it's not his real name) is one of the most successful lifehackers on YouTube. He was kind enough to share some of his secrets with MNN along with some of his favorite videos, which are included throughout this post. He filled us in on how he comes up with all these crazy ideas: "I've always got my eyes and ears open to new ideas," he says. "If I see or hear of something which I think is fun and has a good useful element to it, I'll consider making a video about it. I also come up with completely fresh ideas myself and I like to rework classic things to give my twist on them."

So next time you're frustrated by something, think about solutions — instead of just cursing and walking off.

Defining a good life hack

How does Dave decide whether or not a hack is worthy of a video? He has pretty specific criteria. "A good lifehack should serve a purpose, whether it's to speed something up, make something easier, safer or more efficient. It could involve modifying or using something in a different way to what it was originally intended for."

Of course, some of his hacks are super-practical, and others are party tricks or decorations, but they still end up solving a problem of some kind (even if that problem is just boredom).

Who can be a great lifehacker?

What kind of mind is good at lifehacking? One that loves puzzles, board games, mysteries or other types of mental challenges. "I'm a trained engineer and I've always enjoyed problem solving," says Dave. "Finding shortcuts and ways to make life that little bit easier is something I guess I just enjoy doing. I also really like the process of putting together a video to demonstrate a lifehack or build, whether it's something I've come up with myself, or a rework of an older idea."

Making lifehacking a career

Lifehacking is a pretty specific job title that requires a special kind of mind. But if you want to become one, Dave has some recommendations. "If you're struggling to do something or see someone else struggling, think about what could help to make things easier. Look at objects and materials in a slightly different way and think of alternative uses. We need to keep in mind that the way we do things now isn't necessarily the best, quickest or most efficient way of doing it."

That last line is key. When you're growing up, it's easy to believe that the adults in your life have it all figured out. Once you become an adult, of course you realize that's not true. But at the same time, you're so used to expecting that problems have been solved, that you don't necessarily think there might be a better way. Lifehackers know better — and look at the world in a different (maybe more child-like) way, which is the key to creative thinking.

Does Dave think that he'll ever run out of things to hack? It's not something that he worries about too much. "I think there'll always be something to hack. As a species we're always looking to make life easier and quicker — it can be practical, fun and amusing, and with so many aspects to our lives, there'll always be something to hack."

What's your favorite lifehack?