Hacking Toward Happiness

Striving for both speed and satisfaction, life hackers specialize in digital self-help

Illustration for TIME by Brian Stauffer

Beneath the bits and bytes that shape the character of Silicon Valley, there's a booming digital subculture committed to the art of self-improvement, geek style. It's known as life hacking, and it's all about sweating out the best ways to crank through e-mail, sabotage spam, boost productivity and in general be happier. British tech guru Danny O'Brien coined the term at a 2004 technology conference after studying how programmers come up with "hacks," or shortcut solutions for routine but time-consuming problems. The trick, he says, is not to worry about the entire problem but to find a small fix to get...

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