The Cheat's Guide to Having it All
Life hacks have become all the rage – who doesn’t want a simpler way of doing things? A way to “cheat” through all the faff and fuss that accompanies so many things we do? So from dinner parties to flight upgrades, we’ve put together some of our favourite cheats to ensure you excel at everything (without trying too hard)
Make a good first impression
A hand shake, a kiss, two kisses, three (are they European or proposing marriage?)… it can be hard to tell which to go for. To avoid banging noses – take charge of the situation with the strange, yet effective, handshake-kiss combo. Grasp their right hand in yours, place your left hand on their shoulder and manoeuvre them towards you for a cheek brush (or two, hey go nuts, you’re in charge). You may come across as controlling, but you’ll never head-butt someone. Winning.
Never forget a name
“Jimmy, Johnny… you know the guy. The one with the hair… and the face”. If this sounds like a conversation you’ve had, you need to learn to remember names. And fast. Nothing says “you’re insignificant to my life” like forgetting a name, so next time you meet someone, listen when they introduce themselves, repeat their name twice in your head – once normally and once with either a rhyme, alongside one of their features, or in a silly voice. Then make sure you use their name in conversation with them as soon as you can.
Negotiate a pay rise
Why oh why is it so awkward to ask for more money? For some reason asking for a salary increase seems to turn even the most business-savvy of folk into a sweaty-palmed mess. The key to making a pay rise meet work for you is to do your homework. Find out what people in similar positions are earning, keep details of all the things you have done to benefit the company, and present your case in a business-like manner. Above all – don’t make things personal. Your company doesn’t want to know that you’re eating cold baked beans because your pay isn’t good enough – if they cared, they’d have paid you more to begin with. So keep it professional, and remember that if you’re not being valued at your company, there may be other companies out there willing to snap you up.
Cook like a Masterchef
If whipping up three-course gourmet cuisine isn’t your thing, but you need to impress, remember that preparation is everything. A starter – think goat’s cheese salad or smoked salmon – should be pre-made in the morning, while a dessert such as a basic cake or fruit salad can be whipped up the night before and left in the fridge. Which just leaves you to handle the main course; hit the recipe books and choose anything that starts with the word ‘simple’, then add an extra 30 minutes. Voila!
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if at the end of a long day, you could naturally wind down, switch off and head straight into the land of nod? Although it’s easier said than done, learning to relax is possible. First, ask yourself how much time you set aside for yourself – not time catching up with friends or doing chores, but actual totally-free time just for you. If you can’t think of any, it’s time to carve yourself a chunk of time for relaxation. If you can manage a whole evening (or more) once a week, make a list of the things you enjoy doing most (it could be reading a book, watching a movie or eating a fantastic meal) and pencil them into the diary. You’ll be an oasis of calm in no time.
Make exercise fun
Let’s face it, racing around the city in 40-degree heat or hitting the gym when you’d rather be eating pizza and watching a box set can be soul destroying. If you’re not a naturally sporty person, you need to make exercise fun. Either join a team (see duplays.uae), find a class you can bear (think zumba or anything with dancing) to fit exercise into your daily life. Popping round to a friend’s? Walk, jump on the metro or take the stairs instead of the lift. It may not be a full workout, but it’s a good start. Now dial that pizza delivery!
Save, save, save
If you aren’t already enjoying the free nibbles on ladies nights, you should be. It is free. Make this your mantra and you’ll go far. Seriously though, in most big cities around the world, you’ll find there are a whole host of things to do that won’t break the bank – whether it’s googling any free festivals or events near you, taking advantage of ladies nights deals that include food too, or just persuading your friends to meet for a picnic rather than dinner, there are plenty of ways to save your cash. Every month, pay yourself first. Set up a savings account and arrange for a percentage of your salary to go straight into it when you get paid.
Get an upgrade
Ahh, the grail of blagging. We have to be honest, if we were really clued in; we’d be flying first class everywhere. Unfortunately, a lot of the upgrade blag comes down to pure luck – e.g. if an airline has over-booked and is open to upgrading some coach passengers. However, there are a few things you can do to make an upgrade more likely: First, pick an airline and use them often, join their frequent flyer programme. Airlines are more likely to give preferential treatment to loyal customers. Second, don’t overdo things by donning a suit, but do consider wearing reasonably smart clothes if you’re gunning for a free place in business class. Third, don’t expect an upgrade at an insanely busy time. Travelling from Dubai to London a week before Christmas? Enjoy economy. Finally, ask. If you’re pleasant, you might just hit the jackpot.
Whether it’s in a job interview, a first date or a night out with friends, no one wants to come across as a nervous wreck. The good news is: you can fake it ‘til you make it. The majority of communication is non-verbal, so check your posture when you walk in to a room – standing tall projects an air of confidence, while slouching can suggest low self esteem or nervousness. Next, ask yourself what a confident person would do. Give yourself the goal of asking two or three questions and talking to at least one person you don’t know – the more often you do it, the easier it will be. And remember, most people are faking it ‘til they make it, too!