In regards to this question: https://lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/181/what-tricks-can-i-use-to-increase-my-concentration-on-a-boring-topic

And related to this previous discussion: What is a lifehack?

Does lifehacks involve psychology in any way? Is it on-topic to ask for help in getting motivation, or staying focused, or awake, or anything?

I want to point out that there was another proposal for Life improvement that was closed because it required a discussion format. I think that if we do include these types of questions, we need to be sure that we handle them properly.

So let's figure this out. Is there a psychological aspect of lifehacks, and if so, what is included with it?

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    During the definition phase, many of the highest-voted questions dealt with "psychological lifehacks".
    – APerson
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 5:05
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    I'm very curious to see a good answer to this. I have no idea why the two questions dealing with waking up were so well received while ones dealing with self discipline and memorizing numbers were downvoted and closed Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 20:25
  • @ZachSaucier I'm not sure I can articulate this in to a good answer but... If someone is struggling to wake when their alarm goes off then there are pretty obvious lifehacks (make the alarm louder, move it further away) that could be used to solve the issue. They have already shown their motivation to get up by setting an alarm and asking the question so it is a very specific problem. Seems to me like a really good question. The questions regarding self discipline/memory are I agree way to open ended and would be impossible to deal with on this site as they would require much more discussion. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 10:40
  • @NickJAdams The reason we can't allow things like that is because the answer is different for every person. This leads to no one "correct (best) answer" which is what the Q&A format of the SE network is. As the answer on this question talks about, it also enables nearly everything to be on topic for this site, which we can't have Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 15:57
  • @ZachSaucier I'm going to sound like I'm arguing for arguing sake now, but is this not true of a lot of physical hack answers that may be provided as well? not everyone has the same 'junk' lying around with which to proceed with one hack and may therefore have to follow another. Isn't that the very nature of a hack? now I can see perfectly that the site would become bogged down if it was open to everything and I'm not suggesting that it should I just believe that some common sense should prevail where the hack would be useful to the questioner. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:16
  • @NickJAdams We can't be a site that accepts any questions where we can help the OP. That's too broad. We need a more definite scope. We've decided that psychological problems are off topic for that reason. Physical lifehacks may not be available for certain people, but the lifehack itself can be tested and judged to see if it works with the supplies specified. With psychological lifehacks that's not the case - it depends on the person testing Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:20
  • @ZachSaucier Thanks for the clarification Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:23

2 Answers 2



Nearly everything we do can be related back to some psychological activity, allowing psychology to be on topic will open the scope to ... everything. Ever. At all.

Moreover, opening it to psychology will make all sorts of medically related psychology questions on topic because how do you really differ between "How can I increase my concentration on a boring topic?" and "How can I increase my motivation when I'm depressed?" which will lead to people posting "How can I decrease my libido when I'm manic?".

I think biological physicality - both psychological and not should be off topic to stop people from asking for life hacks to lose weight or become stronger or smarter or gain impressive hypnotic powers to control your mindgivemeallofyourmoney.

Not that there aren't "life hacks" for these things, but the scope these things adds is non-trivial in size and will result in an absolute deluge of questions which I don't really care to participate in, and if you don't too- vote this up.

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    This is a very grim view. I don't think it's that black and white. Opening up for psychological hacks does not constitute 'Anything goes!'. I think you can see the dinstinction in your example questions, where for some you would need medically educated people to post an answer, and for other questions it's open to anyone. For me, the last type of answer should be accepted, the first type should be closed. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 7:07
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    I don't understand why you're drawing this conclusion. What would make psychology more off-topic than cooking or bicycle repair? Of course not every psychology question is a lifehack question, just like not every bicycle repair question is a lifehack question. Why would you restrict the scope to lifehack questions that don't involve psychology? The sample titles you give aren't calling for hacks anyway, so they're bad examples: they're off-topic regardless of their psychologicality. Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 0:47

I haven't seen the question you link to and it's now deleted, but judging by the title, it doesn't seem to be calling for a hack. The title is asking for a list of tricks, and that's not what a hack is. A hack gets you past a hurdle in a quick-and-dirty way. A technique that has to work in a generic scenario is by definition not a hack.

This has nothing to do with any psychological aspect. I don't see any reason why anything involving psychology would be automatically off-topic. However, as usual, questions that require a deep understanding of a scientific topic (psychology, physiology, physics, …) are off-topic. A lifehack should be comprehensible (if not discoverable) by an ordinary person.

  • A reproducible, robust technique is by definition not a hack. This sentence doesn't make any sense to me. In particular, if the solution isn't reproducible, how is leaving it as an answer going to help anyone? Might as well shut the site down right now if our definition of lifehack means that it can't be reproduced by others.
    – Sterno
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 15:38
  • @Sterno You're right, reproducible was a bad word choice. I meant, a technique that only works in a specific scenario might be a hack, but a technique that works generically to improve concentration would not be a hack. Anyway, the important point is that the psychologicality is a red herring. Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 17:11

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