Hack Your Life Project | Hello Stranger

Hack Your Life Project | Hello Stranger

If you could find an extra 7 hours a week to read, spend time with loved ones, reflect and exercise, would you take them? That’s what I did last week. One hour before going to bed, I shut off all electronic devices — TV, mobile phones, laptops. It was great. It was hard at first…like an addict going through withdrawal, but the latter part of the week was insightful. I not only slept better, thought through my new job and even came up with 3 new challenges for the Hack Your Life Project. I have to admit, towards the end of the week, I was shutting down just to shut down. I think the big lesson for me was, don’t use electronics just because they’re there. Don’t be afraid to shut down.

One thing I realized is how dependent we make ourselves to screens. There’s nothing on TV, but it’s too early to go to bed, so we watch any old thing. We can escape in a book, but we read through the ton of (mostly trivial) email we receive instead. It’s not that emails aren’t important or that TV can’t be great, it’s that we escape to it — we shut down our brain and curiosity. Learning to be with ourselves is something that can be learnt. I’ve never been a big adept of segmenting my day (For example, 1 hour for emails, 1 hour for TV, 7 hours for work, 2 hours for blogs and social media), but I can definitely see the value now. This challenge taught me that there’s a time and place for everything.

How did you find this week’s challenge?

#HYLP Challenge #3: Speak to a stranger

OK, I’ve been fearing this challenge since I started putting this project together. I knew it was going to come. My challenge this week will be to speak to a complete stranger. Not a barista, pharmacist or bus driver I’ve never spoken to before, but a total stranger. Someone who, much like me, is taking the subway to work, waiting in line for a coffee, buying groceries or shovelling out her car.


I consider myself an introvert. The idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger really doesn’t appeal to me (to say the least). I can’t even think of anything to say or ask when I see others I don’t know. Of course, that fear is completely made-up (it’s worst in social situations than in a work context for example). There’s really nothing bad that can happened from speaking to a stranger. Worst case? I get ignored. Giving in to that fear is not stretching my life to it’s capabilities and it’s about doing the absolute minimum and staying comfortable.

The thing is throughout your day you’re surrounded by strangers more than family and coworkers and meeting new people can be fulfilling and entertaining. That’s why this week will be all about speaking with someone new. The goal isn’t to strike up a full on conversation, but to get past the created fear of speaking with someone new. What we talk about is irrelevant. It can be about the weather, the time, last night’s hockey game or a book they’re reading…as long as it’s with someone new.

If you feel this isn’t a challenge for you, but want to join in anyway; try speaking to one new person a day or set yourself a target of a 30 minute conversation with a stranger.

This week I’ll be speaking to a stranger, but I know I’ll be beating a long standing, irrational, fear.

Past challenges

If you’re new here, on the first week of January I started the Hack Your LIfe Project. Each week I challenge myself to explore the details of the programmable system that is my life and stretch its capabilities, as opposed to most of us, who only prefer to learn the minimum necessary. I no longer want to breeze through my life, but take control of it.

These are the past challenges:

  1. Hack your life | Get rid of excess clothing
  2. #HYLP Challenge #2 | Turn off the electronics