Improve Your Life With Shortcuts for Everything

Amy Shearn
Forge
Published in
2 min readJan 13, 2021

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Father loading dishwasher as son watches.
Photo: DGLimages/Getty Images

I’m about to change your life: When loading the dishwasher, sort the silverware as you load. Putting away the clean utensils will be a snap. Oh, and get a sock bag for your laundry — it’ll make folding the laundry so much simpler. Or how about freezing herbs into ice cubes, for instantly fancy cocktails?

Shortcuts are like tiny gifts for your future self, and that’s something we could all use more of these days. As Thomas Smith writes in the new Debugger series on optimizing everything in your life:

A good shortcut isn’t about cheating your way out of the necessary effort. It’s about finding a better, smarter, more efficient way to do something — ideally one that saves time, makes life easier, and gets you closer to your goals. Experts in every field use shortcuts. In fact, in many cases knowing the best shortcuts is what makes someone an expert in their field…

Shortcuts are everywhere — even in nature. Our eyes are inside-out not because it makes sense for them to be that way, but because it simplifies other aspects of brain growth and doesn’t cause too many other problems, so evolution never bothered to fix it. It’s also why eating spicy foods hurts — instead of creating a new receptor for pain, the body repurposed one that detects heat (and also, completely by accident, detects chili peppers). Some of the best systems ever to evolve — our bodies and brains included — are chaotic, beautiful, kludgy piles of shortcuts.

Smith notes that as a professional photographer, he can edit a photo in 6.8 seconds: “My Adobe Lightroom interface has become a sea of carefully positioned panels, presets, and toolbars, and I have a complex system of labels and tags that let me categorize my photos with single memorized keypresses.” In another post, he points out that the Google Drive app has a great scan feature that can be an invaluable time-saver. Read more here, and follow the series to, you know, optimize everything:

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Amy Shearn
Forge
Writer for

Formerly: Editor of Creators Hub, Human Parts // Ongoingly: Novelist, Essayist, Person