Lesson 17: Stop Trying To "Hack" Everything


I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed the other day when I came across a post from a marketing influencer. The gist of the post was that she had “hacked” her body by giving up alcohol for January.

As I read through the hundreds of comments, (and thousands of likes) one theme stood out: Everyone was “hacking” something.

Some people were talking about “hacking” the day by waking up earlier. Others were “hacking” meetings by making them shorter. I even saw a post where people were “hacking” the work week by working 7am thru to 7pm.

I had two questions: 1) What constitutes a “hack"? and 2) Why are we hacking everything?

If you scroll long enough through the various definitions in Merriam-Webster, you’ll finally come across this definition, which I believe is most relevant:

“a clever tip or technique for doing or improving something”

With this definition in mind, “hacking” seems to make sense. Who doesn’t want a clever tip or technique for improving something? In sales, we use software to help us hack something. Take for example, cadence management tools like Salesloft or Outreach. They have given us a technique for doing or improving something. Beautiful.

But, “hacking” time? “Hacking” meetings? “Hacking” the day? This is a word misused by people who don’t know how to get real work done.

Waking up earlier isn’t a hack. It’s not a new technique for doing or improving something. Giving up alcohol isn’t a hack. it’s not clever. It’s a choice that millions of other people have already made.

Furthermore, most “hacks” I read about are designed to do MORE in the same amount of time every day. Waking up earlier, working longer, doing more stuff in the 24 hours you have in one day. Anyone who has built a successful business will tell you that is not a recipe for success. #Hustleporn is out. Overused. Not worth it.

A recipe for success is spending more time, doing better work, on fewer things. I could very easily choose to “hack” my day by waking up at 4am, “hack” my schedule by working on ninety different things for 10 minutes a piece, and then “hack” my commute home by creating content with my iPhone during the ride. But I don’t.

Want to know why?

Because I’d rather get to work at 9am, spend a few uninterrupted hours working on one or two things that move my business forward, and then spend time with my family. Followed by that, I’ll get a great night’s sleep and repeat the same thing tomorrow. At the conclusion of each quarter, I’ll have completed major tasks that drive revenue, reduce churn, and reduce costs.

Now that’s a hack.