Our Favourite Life Hacks From 2020

Our Favourite Life Hacks From 2020
Graphic: DindaUlfah, Shutterstock

Lifehacker’s ethos is to help our readers “do everything better,” and that includes each other. Because even when we’re hacking others’ lives, we still need to live our own.

In this post, each of us has selected a favourite 2020 post from another writer on staff. The choices represent the most useful, the quirkiest, and (in one particular case) the most delicious pieces we published during this difficult year. And the real hacks were the friends we made along the way.

Put a Pickle in Your Shitty Beer — Claire Lower

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Claire, our senior food editor, is a genius. She tests out all her recipes thoroughly, and even took some time this year to write some very useful protesting info. But this. This post. So simple. So elegant. And the update at the bottom? :Chef’s kiss: — Joel Kahn, senior video producer

Put a Pickle in Your Shitty Beer

Until about five years ago, I was extremely into craft beer, particularly Belgians and anything spontaneously fermented. But somewhere along the line, I developed an allergy (?) or some sort of “condition” that causes me to sneeze every time I drink a beer that is not excessively light in flavour...

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Stop Trying to Exercise Your Indulgences Away — Beth Skwarecki

Photo: Studio A Soho, ShutterstockPhoto: Studio A Soho, Shutterstock

Beth (Lifehacker’s senior health editor) is the only person who can use the word “calorie” without sending me into a rage, and her health advice is always straight-forward, accurate, and completely devoid of shaming, blaming, or moralizing. This post (and others like it) are so important — the focus is always on helping you feel better and get stronger, not punishing you for the “crime” of enjoying food, or chipping away at your body to make it more “acceptable” by capitalistic beauty standards. I’m a fan, is what I’m saying. — Claire Lower, senior food editor

Stop Trying to Exercise Your Indulgences Away

Whether it’s Halloween lollies, U.S. election week stress eating, or that upcoming Christmas dinner, we need to talk about how to react when we suddenly eat more food than normal. You don’t need to immediately burn off those calories with exercise, or somehow prove to yourself that you’ve “earned” them....

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What to Do If a Friend Comes to You With an Exciting New (MLM) Opportunity — Elizabeth Yuko

Photo: Jirsak, ShutterstockPhoto: Jirsak, Shutterstock

Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought with it a sea of multi-level-marketing bullshit artists looking to profit from people who are doing their very best to scrape by. I’m talking about you, Beachbody; you too, people hawking sticker nail art; and if tupperware or knife parties are still a thing, add them to the list.

It’s been really unpleasant to watch some of my friends get drawn into this stuff, because they’re not only having to pay way more for things that aren’t that high-quality (or even healthy), but then they’re turning around and pitching all this crap across their social media feeds. It’s depressing, but I don’t blame them per se; I blame the people up top who have made it their life’s mission to get rich on the backs of others. It’s insidious, and I just want to forward this article, by our trusted freelancer Elizabeth Yuko, to everyone I know in the hopes that it’ll help. — David Murphy, senior technology editor

What to Do If a Friend Comes to You With an Exciting New (MLM) Opportunity

Your phone buzzes, letting you know about a new message, and you glance down to see a notification from a friend from high school. It’s been ages since you’ve heard from them, and immediately open their message out of sheer curiosity.

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Fuck It, Let’s Waffle Some Cheese — Claire Lower

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

I have yet to waffle a round of brie, but I have been downright inspired by the content Claire has been putting out under the “Will It Waffle” banner. Sometime in the middle of the year I bought a mini waffle maker, and I have put everything except waffle mix in it. “Fuck it, let’s waffle…” is the perfect mood for many a pandemic meal. Chicken nuggets? Yes. Mini corn dogs, which inexplicably showed up in a school lunch package? Double yes. Lasagna? Fuck it, why not. — Beth Skwarecki, senior health editor

Parents Don’t Need Self-Care, They Need Help — Meghan Walbert

Graphic: Lifehacker (Photos: Getty Images)Graphic: Lifehacker (Photos: Getty Images)

I just spent an hour talking with my wife about how much it sucks to parent during the pandemic (and this was after spending an hour talking about the same thing to my therapist). These conversations were mostly focused on the kids — concerns about what being closed off from their friends and teachers and independence for a year is doing to them. I’ve spent all year mostly focused on the kids — on helping them struggle through this and limiting the fallout they’re suffering. Which is why it hit me so hard when I read this post, in which Lifehacker Parenting Editor Meghan Walbert points out that, yes, it is impossible to feel like a good parent right now, and that it’s not just the kids who are drowning. — Joel Cunningham, managing editor

Parents Don’t Need Self-Care, They Need Help

Even before the pandemic hit, it became popular to prioritise “self care.” Parenting podcasts like One Bad Mother have long discussed the challenges parents (particularly mothers) face in finding balance: One of their signature phrases is “I am a self,” a fact we’re meant to remind ourselves of when we...

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How to Know If You’re an Arsehole — Joel Cunningham

Photo: Sam Aronov, ShutterstockPhoto: Sam Aronov, Shutterstock

Managing editor Joel Cunningham answers the question that even those of not on Reddit worry about: Am I the arsehole? Turns out, the answer might be yes. But help is on the way: Joel offers some actionable advice to help us all be better humans. I imagine him drafting this in his head while walking around his neighbourhood, squinting at people who throw trash on the ground, muttering beneath his mask. And it makes me happy. — Alice Bradley, editor-in-chief

How to Know if You’re an Arsehole

Everyone is the hero of their own life story, or so the enduring aphorism goes, yet enough of us are worried we might secretly be villains to have spawned an extremely active subreddit, Am I the Arsehole? Here, people appeal to a jury of their internet peers to determine if...

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Don’t Use Your Oven’s Self Cleaning Function — Aisha Jordan

Photo: brizmaker, ShutterstockPhoto: brizmaker, Shutterstock

My favourite Lifehacker posts are about things I don’t know that I should know, and which I might never know unless someone tells me. Take this hard truth about the self-cleaning function on an oven, which previously intimidated me, as I only learned to properly cook in my thirties and I still use the oven only sparingly (forget baking, that’s 4-D chess to me). Staff Writer Aisha Jordan’s post reminded me that my oven exists, that the self-cleaning function also exists, and that hand-cleaning might be a less fussy option. A load off my mind! — Mike Winters, personal finance writer

Don’t Use Your Oven’s Self Cleaning Function

Ovens tend to get a lot of use during the holidays, and between drips, drops, and turkey basting spills, they can get fairly dirty. And they may not get cleaned very often — in a survey by the American Cleaning Institute, 69% of participants agreed there are areas of the...

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Spend All the Riches You Were Saving for Your Kids — Mike Winters

Photo: damircudic, Getty ImagesPhoto: damircudic, Getty Images

Longtime Lifehacker readers are familiar with Evil Week, where we put on ski masks and share sketchy hacks that would otherwise be inappropriate. It’s our service journalism’s version of The Purge, and I love that our new finance writer, Mike, advised that we tell our kids to go to hell and spend all our money on ourselves. While it’s obviously tongue-in-cheek fun, I love that I can hold onto a bit of the truth in the jest: disparities in generational wealth sucks. Add in a fun fact or two — like how one in three Americans will blow through their inheritance within two years of receiving it — and it’s one of my favourite finance-related reads of the year. — Jordan Calhoun, deputy editor

Spend All the Riches You Were Saving for Your Kids

If you’re thinking of passing your wealth down to your children because you love them, think again. Some of the most financially successful people in the world deny their children the bulk of their inheritance as a way to build character, and you can, too.

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This Isn’t Going to End Soon — Beth Skwarecki

Photo: ThirdFloorDraft, ShutterstockPhoto: ThirdFloorDraft, Shutterstock

Look, I don’t want to be a downer. But this whole year was a downer, and no one more effectively prepared us for that than our own Beth Skwarecki. This was but the beginning of Beth’s noble quest to help us decipher all things COVID, but right from the beginning, she helped me maintain a realistic perspective that I still appreciate all these months later. — Meghan Walbert, parenting editor

Are You Charging Your MacBook on the Wrong Side? — David Murphy

Photo: VVVproduct, ShutterstockPhoto: VVVproduct, Shutterstock

I love it when David Murphy, our senior technology editor, writes a post that exposes some inexplicable oddity about technology — one I’d never, ever have cause to wonder about on my own — and explains how to compensate for or exploit it with efficiency. I can’t think of a better example than this one, because who the fuck would ever think that you could charge your MacBook on the wrong side? Well, now me, every single time I plug mine in. — Joel Cunningham

Here’s Your COVID Vaccine Rumour Roundup — Beth Skwarecki

Illustration: Elena ScottiIllustration: Elena Scotti

COVID-19 has dominated every facet of our lives and raised some pretty sensitive subjects in the process. Over the past month, I’ve had more conversations about myths, conspiracy theories, and health trauma than I can count. Beth Skwarecki’s vaccine rumour round-up really put all of those conversations in perspective. She leaves no stone unturned, and her programmatic yet jovial tone gave my sarcastic brain so much to work with.

“The idea that vaccines contain microchips is just flat-earth-calibre wrong” is a line I am going to use in all my future vaccine conversations. (Even though it made feeds some flames). The article squashed any of my lingering doubts and I can now confidently mitigate friends’ concerns and debunk outlandish rumours. — Aisha Jordan, staff writer

How to Not Masturbate During a Zoom Call — Jordan Calhoun

Photo: Kate Kultsevych, ShutterstockPhoto: Kate Kultsevych, Shutterstock

Jordan took on this touchy subject a mere few weeks after he joined the team as deputy editor. Rising to the occasion, he whipped this out with no problem, and delivered handily. In doing so, he exhibited — oh my god ALICE, STOP.

This is funny. You should read it. — Alice Bradley

How to Not Masturbate During a Zoom Call

Listen, I get it. The line between office and home has become so fine that we can’t tell the difference between, say, when it’s acceptable to masturbate and when it’s absolutely not. Since we do honest service journalism at Lifehacker, I want to share personal tips I’ve learned to keep...

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Why It’s Worth Listening to People Outside Your Political Bubble — Sam Blum

Photo: sirtravelalot, ShutterstockPhoto: sirtravelalot, Shutterstock

I like to think that I’m open minded to challenges of my belief systems, but that’s not always the case — for me and probably for you, too. Our echo chambers can be as deafening as they are isolating, which is why I love this story by one of our new writers this year, Sam, who reminds us that it’s worthwhile to sometimes step outside of our comfort zones in order to better understand those we disagree with.

There are caveats, of course, which I imagine will rile defensive readers (“You can’t reason with people who are unreasonable,” I picture them yelling), but such knee-jerk reactions only underline what I know to be great advice. Because while it’s uncomfortable to try to understand the “other side” of my own views, doing so certainly has its benefits. — Jordan Calhoun

Why It’s Worth Listening to People Outside Your Political Bubble

One of the prevailing themes of the last decade has been the rise of social and political polarization. From the chambers of Congress on through your Thanksgiving dinner tables, it’s increasingly difficult for both sides of the political divide to find common ground, even on seemingly trivial matters.

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