The demands of modern life leave most people feeling like a chef in a busy kitchen with a few too many pots and pans on the stove. While you’re tending to one, another burns or boils over. Whether those pots are connected to your career, relationships, family or personal wellness, it’s inevitable that aspects of your life are going to be ignored or overlooked. So how can you ensure everything runs smoothly and nothing slips through the cracks? By using automations.
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An automation is something that occurs or is created without the need of a human. Your daily alarm is a type of automation; it’s set for the same time each day without you manually setting it each night. Your thermostat is another type of automation, you program it to raise and lower the temperature at different times of the day to be more environmentally friendly and save money. These automations remove one more thing from your to-do list, freeing up space in the brain for other tasks.
Many companies are embracing automation to make our lives easier. Hewlett-Packard will automatically send you toner when it senses your printer is low on ink. Amazon allows you to subscribe to certain products so they’re reordered and shipped to your door automatically. Meal kit services like Green Chef and Blue Apron will send meals each day, eliminating the dreaded question, “What should I make for dinner?” Your 401k is another example of an automation — rather than remembering to put money in savings each month, it’s automatically withheld from your paycheck.
The more you automate, the more brain space you free up for the creative and thoughtful aspects of life.
Automations don’t just save time and brain space, they also reduce human error. Having a daily alarm reduces the risk of forgetting to set it and oversleeping. Amazon subscriptions reduce the likelihood of you running out of toilet paper or buying the wrong kind of dog food. Humans are typically more flawed than computers, so automations will reduce mistakes and mishaps.
So, you’re sold on the idea of automation, but where do you start? When it comes to identifying what exactly to automate, here are four questions to consider:
What tasks, meetings and responsibilities do you frequently forget?
This speaks to the human error piece of the equation. If you frequently miss your work out class or come home at 7pm to an empty fridge with no idea what to cook for dinner, these are signs that you need an automation.
- Consistently late to pick up the kids from school? Set repeating calendar notification or an alarm that dings when you have to leave.
- Always forget to go grocery shopping? Consider subscribing to certain products on Amazon and signing up for a weekly CSA box so you always have fresh produce.
- Looking to expand your professional network, but never seem to have the time to reach out to contacts? Set up a recurring task in your project management system or a recurring calendar invite to reach out to a handful of contacts, schedule a coffee date, or message your connections on LinkedIn.
What tasks do you do repeatedly? What meetings do you have on a regular basis?
If it happens on a regular basis, it should be an automation! Identify things that occur on a regular basis – workout classes, team meetings, chores – and create recurring tasks or calendar events rather than creating them manually. Here are some examples:
- If you pay the bills on the 3rd of every month, set up a calendar event to block off time and notify you as a reminder. You can even include the list of bills within that calendar invite so you don’t have to refer back to the previous month or risk forgetting a bill. Better yet, if your financial position allows for it, put all your bill payments on auto-pay.
- If you love attending a particular yoga or Pilates class, block off time as a recurring event in your calendar. Not only will you save time from manually adding the event, you’ll be more likely to attend since you already blocked off the time.
- At work, identify recurring tasks like submitting receipts for reimbursement and client touch base calls and set up a repeating task in your project management system so nothing slips through the cracks.