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During the 1980s, English New Wave band Duran Duran may have been the inspiration for early computer programmers’ use of the term “life hacks.” Today, life hacks refer to the shortcuts and tricks we use to amp up our productivity with streamlined efficiency and less mistakes. When Duran Duran was first starting out, life hacks were an essential aspect to their survival. When no one knew who they were, it was nearly impossible to get stage time in any of their hometown clubs. So John Taylor took a job as a bouncer at one of the clubs they wanted to perform in. Nick Rhodes took a gig deejaying at the same club. Instead of wasting their time approaching multiple club owners, recording and distributing demo tapes, and pounding the pavement with the odds against them, the band used life hacks to solve their problem in a subtle, creative way. After some time working at the club, they naturally began rehearsing there. And when a hole in the lineup appeared for that night’s set, who do you think the club owners asked to perform?

Life hacks are like little shortcut gems sent from the organization gods. They make life easier, and they free up time to deal with unforeseen problems that inevitably arise.  The example of Duran Duran shows us that sometimes that fastest way to achieve your goal is by doing something that, on the surface, may seem counter-intuitive to your goal. After all, couldn’t the club owners have dismissed John and Nick as “just the bouncer” and “just the DJ,” respectively? It took guts to put themselves in a position that appeared to be a step in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go. It also took foresight to realize that disciplining rowdy club goers and spinning Brotherhood of Man records would actually pay off in the end.

Life hacks require their creative application. I recently read an organizational life hack suggestion on a wildly successful productivity blog. The blog insisted that organization itself was a waste of time, and that blindly diving into productivity was the only way to get things done. If Duran Duran had followed this advice, they might still be cleaning the bathrooms at the Rum Runner.  Time spent organizing and planning is productive. Planning how to go about approaching a project or task is just as important as executing the task you’ve planned to do. Without organizational strategy, your productivity turns into blind grasping at whatever stacks of paper or mile-long to-do lists happen to be lying around.

Once Duran Duran got an opportunity to perform, they had another problem to solve: they needed a name. One of the most popular, well-respected clubs in town was right down the street from where they were performing. It was called Barbarella’s, and it was named after Italian-French sci-fi movie Barbarella, which was released in 1968. In order to associate themselves with a club that regularly hosted bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols, the band chose a character from the film to name themselves after – Dr. Durand Durand. Talk about life hacks! Choosing this name subtly and cleverly associated the band with the hottest club in town.

Life hacks don’t always have to go for the jugular. Approaching your organizational goals in a roundabout way can sometimes be the most direct route toward getting things done. Don’t be afraid to get creative and counter-intuitive. When it comes to organization, a little finesse and foresight goes a long way – just look at Duran Duran! After 34 years, they’ve never officially disbanded. So plan ahead, and get organized to get organized. It’s time well spent, and it may just result in a recording contract and a decades-long music career. Either that, or a more uncluttered inbox. Either way, you’ll feel like a rock star!