(Unsplash // Greg Rakozy)

A Tongue-in-cheek Medium Lifehack Review

Digesting Medium’s best lifehack advice, so you don’t have to.

by Henry Wismayer


First, let us hail them. The life-coaches and the marketeers, the life-hackers and the pseudo-psychologists — bow before them, fellow mortals of Medium, for they are The Word! Thanks to them, if you want someone to tell you how best to live your life, Medium has become your on-line temple.

Who reads this stuff? No, I’m not sure either. (A cynical conspiracy theorist might accuse them of each creating 10,000 fake Medium accounts. Did someone say ‘bot’? I couldn’t possibly speculate.) But let’s assume you are out there: a million dreamers all frantically writing lists, reading books, setting alarms, changing the world.

However, there’s a problem, isn’t there dreamers. You’ve been reading, sharing and recommending this stuff for months now, and you still haven’t become Elon Musk, let alone learned what UX means. LIFE IS SO UNFAIR!

From where I’m sitting, the diagnosis looks simple: over-supply. There’s so much profound advice out there, but digital evangelism is not a harmonious church, and the people dispensing the creed don’t always agree. Even its most eminent cardinals (hail Benjamin Hardy, Jon Westenberg, CamMi Pham and James Altucher!) seldom pontificate from the same text.

Between them, and the lesser preachers aspiring to a place in their pantheon, they have created a life-tips flood, and we disciples have been left reeling in the torrent, foundering in a deluge of often contradictory ideas.

Which way to turn? “Do lots,” counsels one, irritatingly. “No,” opines another. “Lie still.”

Well, dear reader, drown no more. For I have taken it upon myself to wade into the depths like a kind of inverse Moses.

By painstakingly curating the very best lifehack articles in Medium history, I have calmed the raging waters into a single serene river of wisdom.

So here it is, one amazing list to rule them all: a compilation of the 10 most life-altering, convention-busting, lifehack articles ever! Climb aboard my Ark, and let me carry you to the Promised Land.

1. Sort your life out, loser!

You can’t handle the truth,” bellows Raymmar Tirado, channelling his inner-Jack Nicholson in what is basically the literary equivalent of being upbraided by a hipster with ‘because’-Tourette’s, jabbing you in the chest with one of those pointy foam hands they used to wave about on Gladiators. If you’re looking for advice at its most entry-level, or merely pursuing confirmation that life, up to now, has been one giant wasted opportunity, this is a great place to start.

2. But…what if I like sleeping?

Life is busy,” sermonizes advice machine-gun Benjamin Hardy sagely, and with insights like that you know that this one is going to be gold. 1,500 words of insomniac wisdom follow, though to save you the time we can distil it down to a single pithy adage, namely: “The early bird gets the worm.” Notably, Hardy’s bio mentions that he is the father of “3 epic kids”, and what parents everywhere really want to know is: how does he find the time? How does he find the time to pray, exercise, measure out 30g of protein, take a cold shower, listen to uplifting content and review his life vision EVERY SINGLE DAY, in between making breakfast, putting on clothes, getting kids ready for school etc. “Before you know it you’ll be old and withered,” says Hardy. Alas, reading this, I feel old and withered already.

3. Finding the Holy Grail in flip-flops

The author’s life, presumably through some serendipitous cocktail of talent, determination and (one cannot help but infer) wealthy parents is a thing of wonder. He travels — tick. He has friends — tick. He gets to call himself ‘nomad’ — tick. He gets to expand his ‘cultural bubble’ by visiting several Disneylands — tick. Most important of all, HE FOUNDED A STARTUP (which, as we all know, is the modern-day equivalent of inventing fire). So suck on it, basically.

4. Yes, but are you happy?

Reading a page of a book every night became a lot easier when I kept the book by my bed,” says Belle Beth Cooper, prompting face-palms from all the misguided souls out there who’ve been keeping their book in the garden shed. You know, we really should be paying cash-money for nuggets like that. Oh, wait. Sign up to the author’s ‘Productive Habits’ course plugged at the bottom, and you can!

5. Mmmmm, gateaux

Anyone capable of growing such a meticulously manicured thicket of facial hair has clearly spent a lot of time gazing into the mirror pondering the meaning of life, so Tobias van Schneider surely deserves our complete attention. But I must confess, dear reader, that I’ve scrolled through this article several times, and with each reading I feel a little stupider. Call me sceptical, but I suspect that many people recommended this out of an underlying love of cake, rather than any epiphanies they may have derived from incantations like: “Happiness will either result out of eating the cake, or baking a cake but never by protecting it.” Please forgive me while I try and cash in on this marketing technique, thus:

Cake (Flickr CC // Kiwien)

6. Books are shit. I love books.

If there’s one thing that nearly all digital evangelists agree on, it’s that reading books is good (don’t forget to keep them by the bed!) So James Altucher is really breaking the mould with his opening gambit: “Books suck. No question about it, almost everyone who writes a book is a crappy writer.” And yet — hurrah! — this turns out to be an utterly hilarious bluff, as Altucher moves on to list a load of books that he thinks don’t suck one bit. So books are great after all! Phew. BTW, did you know that the author’s book is available in paperback for just $22.95? A caveat, though: the books on Altucher’s list sound exhausting. You’ll probably have a better time reading Game of Thrones with a cup of cocoa.

7. Yeah, what they said…

One of seemingly three dozen popular posts to have emerged from the tireless, sorcerous finger-tips of Jon Westenberg in recent weeks, this fucking list of quotes (‘fucking’ is Westenberg’s favourite word) is a bit like reading a fucking newspaper astrology page. Proof, if more were fucking needed, that just about any sentence with the faint fucking whiff of enigma— even ones fucking penned by the most laurelled writers — can be interpreted a million different fucking ways when taken out of context.

8. Advice from bearded me to bum-fluff me

One of my all-time favorites, this opus, near-Biblical in its scope, has accrued almost 8,600 recommends thanks to commandments like: “Most [people] are OK. Many are average. Some are excellent. A few people will change your life forever. Find them,” which conjures pleasing images of Nic Haralambous dashing around a town square in his eponymous luxury bamboo socks interrogating random strangers about their inherent life-changing capacity. How’s that going, Nic?

9. Huh?

There was a point around the turn of the year when CamMi Pham seemed intent on turning Medium into her personal bitch, so often did her articles elbow their way onto the summit of Medium’s Top Stories list. This, one of her most popular, offers “1 Simple Secret to Success.” However, in what amounts to the ultimate illustration of just how much cleverer the author is than the reader, we’re left guessing as to what the secret to not sucking is. UNTIL WE DO WHAT, CamMi, for chrissakes? My rent isn’t going to pay itself!

10. Don’t forget to crap

And finally, from Medium’s very own Ev Williams— a clever chap, no doubt, albeit one clearly not averse to chucking about vapid platitudes in the interests of luring people to his newly minted website.

(Flickr CC // Christian Heilmann)

It seems that very few of us are above giving the people what they want in pursuit of little green hearts.

← LOOK, A BABY HEDGEHOG!

An uncharitable reader might be tempted to posit that, were you to turn this article upside down and shake it, nothing would fall out save for some pistachio husks, an elastic band and a thousand wannabe entrepeneurs’ shattered dreams. But we know better — this is intellectual heft of the highest calibre.


Get updates on new stories published here and elsewhere by following on Twitter: https://twitter.com/henrywismayer. Thanks for reading.
Footnote: Respect to Nic Haralambous, the only one of the authors listed to have responded to this gentle ribbing with a recommend.
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