50 Times People Hacked Hard Tasks By Coming Up With Clever Shortcuts Shared By People On Reddit
"I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it," Bill Gates once said. I mean, he has to be onto something; after all, he's an American business magnate with a net worth of over $119 billion. But let's admit, it doesn't always work like this. Though in times when it does work, the solutions people manage to come up with are often absolutely genius.
There's a popular thread on Reddit started by the user Slimer425 where people share their best stories of folks coming up with the most clever shortcuts to avoid hard work. "There is a well-known saying that goes 'Always give the hardest job to the laziest person because they will find the easiest way to do it'—what is the best real-life example to this you have seen?" the user wrote in their post. This Reddit thread currently has almost 90k upvotes and over 13k people sharing their stories. With that being said, Bored Panda invites you to read through the most interesting stories of people working smarter, not harder.
#1There's a story that I've heard a few dozen times about a toothpaste company that had accidentally sent out cases of their product that had a few empty single boxes of toothpaste. The company had endeavored, not only to rectify their mistake, but to ensure they did not repeat it. They hired an engineering company that designed a scale, and alarm shutdown system. If an empty carton was passed down the production line, klaxons would be triggered, and a full stop would initiate until the offending box was recovered, and an all clear had been entered into the computer system, before production could resume. The company paid through the nose, but was ultimately pleased with their failsafe, and the engineers patted eachother on the back. A few months pass, and the engineers returned for quality control. The toothpaste company reported zero margin of error for weeks. Turns out, one of the minimum wage hairnet types on the assembly line didn't appreciate the sound of klaxons, or working with computers. So, he or she had aimed a large fan at the production line, before the scale, that blew the lighter, empty cartons off of the conveyor belt. Problem solved.
Got hired for the day to print 30 packets with 100 pages each. Why would it take a day? I asked ‘Our printer doesn’t collate the pages so it will take you the day to sort the pages into the 30 packets” they said. Right. It was a standard office Xerox printer. It took me all of 30 seconds to find and click the ‘collate’ button. Clicked the ‘staple’ button while at it. All got printed by itself into nice stapled packets and I got paid to browse internet for the day. They thought I was a genius for ‘fixing’ their printer and gave me glowing recommendations to the temp agency that led to more jobs.
#3Worked in a huge hotel by the airport*. We had layover with over 400 people, I think we were 3 employees. They had buffet for dinner and then left to go to bed since it was 1 or 2 am. Rule was, we should always go to the room and pick up as many plates as we could and then bring them to the cleaner. Took for ages and I wanted to go home.
I decided to roll out the cart and collect the plates and put them on the cart. Guest were seeing it and started putting their plates on the cart when they left. All of a sudden hundreds of people cleaned up their own stuff.
Duty manager saw it and I thought he would blast me, since the hotel was a 5 star place.
He just looked at me, smiled and said "that's why I like to hire lazy people, they think of ways to finish work faster"
Boss hated Excel to the point where he didn't want us using formulas because "you can't trust them to be right" so we needed to "do all the calculations by hand or on a calculator" He would give me a spreadsheet once or twice a week that required lets say, 45 seconds to do, but maybe 7 hours by hand and he told me to "go to starbucks or something and crank it out" He thought that since I pasted as values and he couldn't see the formulas that I did it by hand when really I just did it in 45 seconds, sent an email on delay for 7 hours, and studied for the next semester. First day of internship he told me with a straight face he was a "work harder not smarter kinda guy"
#5I work in a semi-warehouse environment and we have to track where items are at all times. When we move X item from location A to location B we had to type out the to and from locations. We do this hundreds of times a shift.
I went online to a free barcode maker website and spent about 20 minutes making location barcodes.
I save hours a day by scanning barcodes.
#6At my last job, a truck suspension shop, we did inventory every December and it was someone's job to count all the washers and screws of every size.
It was my first inventory and I casually mentioned that they should just weigh one screw or washer, then weigh them all and divide the weight to get the count. Everyone looked at me like I had given them the key to the universe.
Counting washers and screws went from a day or two, to just a few hours.
#7Got hired into a plant that just got a big new job building stuff for the military. My job was "materials associate" which basically meant I drove a fork lift and staged parts that were built. The "Engineers" came up with a floor plan for all of the parts and where they needed to be staged. They used fancy lasers and measuring devices and built it all in CAD. After telling them it wouldn't work they said " well lets see you do a better job". I organized the entire 50,000 sq/ft warehouse so that each part was close to the machines that use them, it followed the first in first out method, and each department knew where their parts went when they were done making them (put up signs and what not). After that my job was basically pointless because the warehouse ran its self. I decided to teach myself how to use the welding robots in my downtime. Fast forward 3 years and now I'm an automation engineer at one of the largest parts supplier in the industry.
#8The joys of being a parent. As the parent of 2 hyperactive boys, I invented a game called the steamroller game. I would lie down across one end of the bed and the kids would start jumping. At some random point I would make a motor noise and roll across the bed. If they didn't jump in time I would roll right over them. They loved that game.
I just invented it because I wanted to lie down for a few minutes.
#9Eating cheetos with chopsticks so you don't have to wipe your fingers while playing videogames.
Automated 70% of my job in a large finance firm as an intern. Never disclosed it and got paid easy money for 6 months. I spent the time doing courses and applying for my grad school. Got my admission letter during the final 2 weeks of my internship and never looked back. Pro Tip: Python and Excel can be your best friend.
#11I once was a temp at a tiny office on a construction site in around 2003. I was only there for one day while the regular person was on some training.
They sat me down and told me that I just needed to copy all these numbers from one program to another. So I selected them, hit ctrl c and ctrl v. They stared at me.
Turns out about 60% of this woman's time had been spent manually typing numbers from one place to another.
#12During my intern, my professor gave me line graphs made on paper and asked me to find the coordinates by drawing horizontal and vertical lines. It would have taken hours if not days.
I thought to myself - "I couldn't be the first one who is lazy af". So I googled it, found this cool free to use software "Web Digitizer".
Step 1 - Scan the graph. Step 2 - Mark the X and Y axes in the picture. Step 3 - Grab a beer cause you got the the nicest mf graph that you couldn't have drawn by yourself in a million years.
My professor was so happy she asked me to document the method and mail it across the entire department.
Worked as a cashier during the holiday season back when i was 16. The supermarket was selling drinks by the boxes and at that time, we only had barcode scanners that was at the front of the computer. No gun type scanners existed. I was lazy and didn’t want to carry boxes up to the scanner. So i politely asked my customers if i could carve out the barcode from their box to scan and keep. Some agreed some didn’t want to but eventually i managed to amass all the barcodes needed. Labelled them and kept them in a file for easy reference.
#14I used to deliver beer. I did not like delivering beer. I may have ended up with 30 stops in a day, including deliveries that the customer would call in to our office for. I used to bring extra beer and blank invoices with me on the truck, to prevent having to drive back to my warehouse to deliver one keg to a place that I was currently across the street from. 7 years later, the driver of that route is still doing that.
#15A programmer outsourced his own job overseas, paying Chinese programmers one fifth of his salary to write code for him, while he spent his days surfing Reddit and watching cat videos. His performance reviews praised him for clean, well-written code and called him "the best developer in the building."
I worked at a chain restaurant and in my last few months there we got those stupid table ziosks that customers could pay at. There was a survey at the end of every transaction and our managers added new performance metrics based on how many people paid using the ziosk and also how well our service was based on the surveys. One as*hole would just fill the surveys out himself after his customers left and gave himself five stars in everything. Dude was always ranked top of the servers. Fu*king genius
#17I'm in corporate accounting, and I'm the only one in my department with a CPA. Of course, I have to take continuing education for my license, and I usually take as many hours of Excel courses as I can each year.
By learning the keyboard shortcuts, advanced formulas, and a bunch of useful hidden features in Excel, I'm able to get most of my work done in less than 2 hours, then spend the rest of the day browsing Reddit and watching YouTube videos. Thank goodness our cubicle walls are high, or I'm sure they would've fired me by now for being on my phone 6+ hours each day.
Co-worker of mine had to get rid of a smaller junk fiberglass boat with no trailer. Our other co-workers are all telling him how much time and money he's going to need to spend to get rid of it, and he's just saying "Oh, is that so?" He took off one day, and sat down on his lawn with a cooler of beer. That day was garbage day. Inevitably, the trash guys roll up. He hands each of them a cold beer, and says "Hey boys, got $50 for each of you if you help me out real quick." They fed the entire 12ft boat into the packer, crushing two feet at a time.
#19Worked construction right out of high school to save money for school. Once every other week, we'd get a shipment of 100's of door parts, and they made me match serial numbers to parts and orders and confirm we got everything, then organize it all. It literally took 16 hours AT LEAST. And time moved so slowly. So I got fed up with it and made a python app that would take a list of pictures, extract text from the pictures, compare it to a order receipt, then spit out a list of all missing parts and extra parts. So it knocked it down to an hour process of just throwing the door parts in the correct pile while waiting for the script to run.
The worst part is that I didn't even get a raise for doing it.
#20I worked in a CNC shop. There would be a pile of jobs that needed to be done for the month. Some took days to run while others were generally quick. The record for jobs done in 1 day was 8. What I did was looked through all the jobs and organized them by setup. Meaning... Every job has a setup time. Can take an hour to get all the tooling together, setting up the cutting table, and setting the part square to the table so the machine can "gauge" where the part is so when I insert the code into the machine it can run flawlessly and drill, mill, tap whatever within a literally hair measurement. For every single job. Majority of parts use standard tooling. And I have automatic tool changing with 20 pockets. Long story short I figured out how to line up the jobs so they all have the same setup. Blew the record out of the water with 30 jobs done in one day. Saving the company tens of thousands in work hours. All because I didnt feel like doing all the setups that day.
#21In high school we had to do four book reports every year. A friend of mine did his on each Lord of the Rings books and the Hobbit freshman year and turned in the same four book reports for the rest of his time in high school. You switched english teachers every year so no one ever caught on. I was never brave enough to try the same thing.
I worked a summer at a mortgage company as an assistant to the underwriters. My only job was printing documents and then hole-punching them to put in folders. They had a super fancy xerox printer that basically did my entire job for me, but the underwriters at this company didn’t know how to click through printer settings to make the machine hole-punch as it was being printed. I showed them how to do it, and they resisted it suuuuper hard (like they didn’t trust it? Idk). So I got to keep my job, but what was supposed to take me all day literally took me about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning. So they started assigning me real tasks, and even offered to keep me on to eventually become an underwriter, too. Because I was “so sharp” (i.e. I knew how to use the very expensive printer they already had).
Tl;dr: they had a printer that already did my job for me but didn’t know how to use it. I showed them.
#23My parents were having a summer get-together a couple of years ago and my dad wanted my brother and me to dig a small pit for a bonfire. He handed us two shovels and left us to dig,
My brother went and started up our old tractor, drove it across the lawn, dropped the bucket into the earth and drove forward a few feet.
The pit ended up a little larger than what we had planned but once we lined it with stones it was actually a pretty nice pit.
*Edited "my brother and I" to "my brother and me."
#24I read a comment on here a while back about a college kid who picked up an office job over one summer. He became friends with an older lady at the front desk who always needed help figuring out Excel.
He kept finding shortcuts for her, and eventually wrote scripts for her that took a load of work off her plate.
By the end of the summer he had made her job so easy that they decided they didn’t need her to do it anymore. They fired her.
#25In college, a professor always assigned 20 page papers.
No one could ever get 20 pages out of one topic. We were only undergraduates. I consistently turned in papers that were 14-15 pages long and suffered for it.
Then I learned about Kyle. He would write papers called something like The Origins of the Federal Reserve, it's Role in the Depression of 1920, the Great Depression, and the 2008 Recession.
Four 5 page papers = one 20 page paper!
Herding yak with a drone takes the cake for me. They run from it, and oddly fear it. Which is surprising considering they have literally zero aerial predators. We only did it a few times because it really makes them uneasy, and doesn't treat them well. But it is very effective and easy, and you can herd them from over 1/2 a mile a way from inside the house.
#27I was working a kids’ chess summer camp with this guy who just horked down pot like you wouldn’t believe (still a far, far better chess player than me).
One day, the kids were being particularly rambunctious and I told him he had to take them outside to get their energy out.
He had them spend the next hour doing “American Ninja Warrior” on the jungle gym/playground. I hadn’t even heard of the show, but it was a group of young boys like 6-12, so they all adored it.
This coworker loved to get super stoned and watch it. Don’t know if he was high at the camp, but he just got to sit on a bench and tell kids their time was getting slower when they did “stunts” and they just scurried and jumped around faster.
#28Teacher here! We have a K-3rd grade classroom with mixed ages. This year, we decided to assign a big project in pairs. We have a 3rd grade boy who’s cynical, argumentative, and refuses to do work even though he’s extremely intelligent and capable. We decided in an effort to get work out of him, we’d pair him with a very energetic kindergarten boy that has underdeveloped, 5-year old, reading and writing skills. Anyway, the older boy typed sentences on the computer in big 20-point text and gave it to the kindergarten boy to trace on our light board, as well as pictures to color. Well played.
#29I don't know that I have a specific example, but a buddy of mine and I used to spend our time working out the most efficient way to do our jobs.
We used to tell ourselves "I'm not being lazy, I'm just being efficient!" It became an almost daily thing..."why are we doing it this way? This is stupid. There must be an easier way." Then we'd find that and implement it.
Nine months ago, I'd made my job so easy it was eliminated. Be careful what you wish for.
#30Someone gave me a report they'd been doing manually for literally years, using nothing but excel and access databases that took two people upwards of nearly three hours to complete.
Got that shit automated down to 30 seconds in a few days. I'm not about your stupid v-lookup bullshit, Brittany.
#31My friend who’d take his baby’s clothes off when he fed him. Next level brilliant. Spray the kid off after.
#32Need to count 300 pieces of paper? Print 300 blank pages
A few years ago my mom was tasked with fixing my grandparent's toilet while we were visiting for the holidays. The toilet reservoir was constantly filling and running, and thus flooding the bathroom, because the buoy arm wasn't lifting high enough from the water in the reservoir to switch off the water flow. My mom (who is normally a very practical person) had been tackling the issue for hours. She was pretty distraught, thinking we would have to order a new buoy arm, maybe even a new sensor, or switch and pull the whole assembly apart to replace everything. She was planning out a trip to Lowes' and pricing things out when I walked in. I took one look at it and bent the metal arm the buoy was attached to, down, so the arm had a slight upwards curve. The buoy still reached the same level in the reservoir, but registered on the sensor as 'higher' because of the curve in the arm. Problem solved, Rangers lead the way.
#34In one of my early IT jobs I spent about two months automating everything I did. Thereafter, I spent my days in air-conditioned isolation reading, hacking out entirely unrelated programs, engaging in protracted debates on UseNet and responding to the very rare client problem.
Things seemed to be running smoothly so I took a couple weeks of vacation. When I returned from holiday I was told that everything had run so smoothly in my absence that my services would no longer be needed.
I had lazied myself redundant.
#35Not sure if this counts, but when I was unemployed a few years back, I was visiting my mother at her office when she was stuck in a conundrum: her then-current task was to rename these ridiculously long-named files into something more manageable, but the length of the files combined with how deep in the system they were, the computer straight-up wouldn't allow her to rename said files. She was nearly pulling her hair out in frustration when I, the visiting non-employee with nothing better to do, suggested "Could you drag it to Desktop so it isn't so deep in the system, rename it there, then bring it back?" She could, it worked, day saved.
#36I remember having to peel 20kg of charred eggplant at a restaurant I worked in. I asked the chef if there was an easier way to do it. His reply was "yep, get someone else to do it"
#37I did this.
A few years back, I was roommates with a super mechanically inclined dude.
Our top-loading clothes washer stopped working well because the lid got a little warped and didn't trip the safe switch for the spin cycle to run anymore.
He was all geared up to pull the washer out, take it apart, bend the lid back into proper shape, and reseat the sensor so it would run properly.
I told him to hold off; I put a load of laundry in, and popped a quarter inch shim under the lid.
It ran perfectly.
#38Was tiling a bathroom floor. One young guy I was working with was cleaning up when we were done. I told him to take the leftover tile back downstairs to the truck, and then went back to cleaning what I was doing. Ten seconds later I hear this huge crash and then a soft "oh, right." He had gone out onto the balcony and dropped them down to the truck, shattering over $100 worth of tile. He said he "thought it would be faster". He wasn't exactly wrong!
#39When I was at university I had an IT helpdesk job for one of the colleges. My team was tasked with taking inventory on every computer in every room of like 5 buildings. Computer ame, some college ID code, the Dell serial number, all kinds of stuff. I mean it took ages to gather all the information in just ine room.
About a week into the process, I decided that I'd had enough of manuall writing everything down. On my work machine I just started running all of the GET CMD commands I could find, and eventually had a batch file on a flash drive that would just save a computer's information as a txt file on the flash drive.
So I'd walk into a room, log in to each computer, run my file, then log off. I went from doing a couple of rooms a day to doing a couple of floors a day. I still had to input everything into the system, but that felt great.
#40Got hired for a 3 week temp job that was transporting strings of text from a text document that the companies app produced, into separate excel sheets relating to what the string in the text document was. It was hundreds of thousands of lines of records of which office was printing, calling, emailing, basically any time the network was used. They were making graphs about how much of call time was to what department/customer/etc, and things like that.
Yeah, just wrote a script that read the first couple words, determined which excel sheet for which string, then watched tv for the rest of the two weeks. It ran 24/7 while I finished a bunch of netflix shows. It worked perfectly, and the company paid me extra to keep using the script i had written.
To make things better, someone shut the computer down and couldn’t figure out how to restart the script properly so I came in and restarted it for an extra $50.
Best 3 weeks of my life.
#41My dad and I were working on my grandma's water heater a couple of years ago, we needed a cork or something to go over the end of the pipe. I had a bottle of coke in my hand, I downed the coke and put the cap on the end of the pipe as a joke but it fit perfectly so we kept it there. When my grandma sold the house 5 years later that cap was still on the end of the pipe.
I wasn't necessarily the laziest person but I was the DLH (designated light holder) and I was providing "emotional support" thru smartass comments so I was definitely taking the job the least seriously.
#42My professor asked me to check the answer sheets of a test.
By utilizing the readily available algorithms in image processing (machine learning), I made a mobile app that takes a picture of the answer sheet and return the score.
#43I work in finance at a large multinational corporation. I feel like a big part of our job is to just stop doing things and wait to see who complains. If someone complains, we keep doing it, if silence, then we call it a "controlled drop" and put it on our performance review for creating efficiencies.
#44had a meeting group arriving in the morning, about 130 people, and each one was going to pay their part. but for every person I needed to insert 4 items (food, beverage, room, etc), every item had their price, and it needed to be inserted individually and in order (software limitations) - it needed to be ABCDABCDABCD etc. 130 times! 4 times each! individually!
so I spent 20 minutes setting up a mouse macro program, and set it up to run 130 times.
lucky for me I had two computers and was able do my stuff in one while the other was busy for almost two hours.
#45When sweeping the concession stand at the movie theater I work at instead of using the dust pan to slowly pick up all the trash I sweep it all to one end and put the trash can on the floor and sweep it straight into there
#46When I worked at an inpatient unit one of the tasks we'd get would be to do a check in with every patient (there were about 100 when we were full). Nobody wanted that task-- it would usually get split up-- except this one guy who was pretty lazy always wanted it and I didn't understand it because he was lazy. Finally one day I was walking out for a break and I figured out what he did. He plopped himself right beside the food line door and wouldn't let people go in until they did their check in with him. That's not how it was supposed to be done, it was supposed to be a chance for clients to connect with staff. But he'd get it done in an hour or so for the whole unit and be done for the day
#47When i was like 10 i had to sweep the house, and walk the dogs. These were my only 2 chores, but I was a lazy little twerp, so I tied a towel to my dogs back legs, then put a toy on the back of my remote control car, and released the hounds. Mom came out to see all 3 dogs knocking over the table trying to get the toy, with their legs essentially tied together. I was a problem child.......
There was this guy at a software company that does integrated software systems. He hated his boss and his job and apparently most of his team. Every time he was assigned a bug to fix, he would mark it resolved and assign it to a no-reply email address associated with the team. The odd thing that I don't understand is how he managed to keep issues from getting escalated to other real people. At any rate, no one caught on. When he found a new job and a couple people on his team took him out for drinks he said, "You should look into all the bugs I fixed. I never did any of that." So the guys who took him out for drinks went back and audited his work and were like "Holy Fu*k! He not only did nothing, he hid identified issues for like...a year."
#49My teacher not wanting to grade papers so he gives us easy sh*t to do
#50I once ordered a painter to paint my bathroom walls. His price was extortionate for the small job, and he only had a relatively small brush to complete it. It was a pretty lousy paint job because of the small brush, so a few weeks later I finally convinced myself to get another painter, but just a cheap one to go over the bad job done by this other guy. Instead of using just a brush he had a huge roller, and consequentially got the job done much quicker. He did a great job and charged significantly less than the other guy. Lee from Lee’s painting, wherever you are, thanks.