In less than five years, Andrew Rubin has gone from a relative nobody in the tech field to founding CEO of cybersecurity unicorn Illumio. The obvious question—How?! By assembling a dream team of mentors: Marc Benioff, Ben Horowitz, John Thompson, and Jerry Yang, to name a few.
What’s something that Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs have in common?
Incredible success, yes. But there’s another common factor: wearing the same outfit every day.
And it’s not because they lack creativity or style.
It’s because successful, busy people want to cut down on their daily decision-making.
When you’re less worried about the mundane details of life, you have more mental space for creativity, problem-solving, and genius ideas.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Obama explained, “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can't be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
Similarly, the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris reveals that most highly successful people eat the same breakfast every single day.
Boring? Maybe. But there’s a method to the madness.
How do I know? I’ve used these tips and tools to automate my life and grow my business, Transizion. I’ve saved time and mental energy to focus on the tasks that matter.
Let’s learn more about how to automate your life.
Benefits of Automation
The average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. And studies show that decision-making fatigue is real.
Perhaps paradoxically, every act of making decisions limits your ability to make decisions later.
So, it makes sense to consciously choose where you’d like to focus your energy each day—and where that energy is wasted.
Reducing your number of daily decisions is a form of automation.
Automation means streamlining processes, limiting distractions, and saving time and effort. It means clearing your mind of clutter and spending your day on what matters.
Would you like to be more efficient, productive, and creative? Are you interested in creating more space and time for yourself?
Sure, we all do.
Automation is the way to go.
No, you don’t have to drink the same protein shake every morning, trade delicious dinners for Huel or wear the same suit every day. But there are countless ways to automate the dull details and pesky processes of your life.
8 Strategies to Automate Your Life
Think about the tasks that consume you daily, weekly, or even monthly. The boring ones that waste your time and drain your energy. Then, consider ways you can simplify, speed up, or automate these tasks.
Here are some useful automation ideas to get you started.
Automate your monthly bills by setting up automatic bill pay. You can do this with your phone, cable, rent, car insurance, and even daycare payments or the minimum amount on your credit cards.
You can set a specific amount to be paid on a specific date each month. This way, there’s no need to keep a running mental checklist of which bills are due and when they’re due.
Plus, you’ll never be penalized for late payments, saving your credit score and your money.
2. Extreme (?) Couponing
Yeah, the TLC couponing freaks are at once impressive and kinda scary. But you actually can learn a lot from them (just don’t take it to the... extreme).
In truth, coupons can save you money with little to no effort.
The mobile app Cellfire lists coupons and other offers. Simply select the ones you like, and they’re added to your grocery store loyalty card. Next time you swipe your card at the store, the discounts are automatically deducted.
As for tools outside of the analog world—
Honey is a Google Chrome extension that automatically searches for discounts while you’re shopping online. The discounts are applied when you check out.
Speaking of shopping, it’s a fearsome task for many of us. Luckily, there are several ways to simplify it.
If you hate clothes shopping, try a subscription service like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, or Bombfell. Based on a series of questions that you answer, these services send clothes selected just for you. Send back what you don’t like, and only pay for the items you keep.
There are similar services for books, razors, makeup and beauty products, shoes, coffee, wine, and more.
Of course, the goal here is automating, not splurging. Think of a few purchases you already make on a regular basis, and see if a subscription service could save you time without breaking the bank.
Grocery store chains like Publix and Wal-Mart now offer curbside pick-up. You order your groceries online and schedule a pick-up time, then an employee loads your groceries into the car for you.
Although there’s usually a minimum purchase total associated with these services, there’s no extra charge for pick-up.
Of course, buying the ingredients is less than half the battle when it comes to cooking. There’s also deciding what to cook, actually cooking it, and repeating the whole process again the next day.
One way to streamline this ordeal is to gather a collection of favorite recipes. You can save them in a computer file, write them on index cards, print them and keep them in a file folder, etc. Then, set up a rotation of your favorite meals, reducing the time you spend considering what to cook.
Setting aside a day over the weekend to meal prep and/or cook make-ahead freezer meals will also save you time during the week.
If you forget to plan, there’s a website called MyFridgeFood that allows you to check boxes indicating what you currently have in your fridge or pantry. The site then supplies you with some recipes you could make using the items you already have.
This eliminates meal planning and grocery shopping, and it simplifies cooking. If you don’t like something on the menu, you’re free to skip it or change it.
Emails are a major stressor for many people.
Reduce inbox stress by:
- Checking your email at set times each day, or setting alerts only for people who require an immediate response (e.g. your boss).
- Unsubscribing to emails you don’t really read.
- Keeping emails short, and avoiding questions when possible. This reduces the chances of a lengthy back-and-forth.
- Creating folders and subfolders to automatically sort your emails. For example, you might sort by Work, Amazon, and Social. You can also sort based on priority.
- Using predictive text like Gmail’s Smart Compose feature. It provides suggested (and often spot-on) responses to emails at the bottom of the screen. If you like one of the suggestions, simply click it and hit send (actually, I get scared by how accurate some of the responses are).
- Enabling “Canned Responses” in Gmail or another service to tackle commonly sent email responses. Create simple templates that can be easily inserted into messages with a few clicks.
- Experimenting with different features and configurations to see what works best for you. Every email service is different, but they all offer useful ways to fight the email beast.
- Save articles to read later
- Post a picture or update on one form of social media and have it posted everywhere
- Create shopping lists
- Score discounts
- Schedule and track tasks and goals
- Get the weather sent to your phone each morning
- Receive reminders to hydrate!
- Add songs from videos you like to a Spotify playlist and sync Soundcloud likes to Spotify
- Get a summary of how you’re spending your time
- Track workouts
- Much more
The possibilities are nearly endless, and the apps are free!
7. Learning on the Go
We all want to stay informed, but reading and browsing the web can be a severe time drain. Listen to podcasts or audio books during your commute to and from work, while exercising, or even while doing chores around the house.
Take advantage of sites like The Daily Skimm. It sends a quick, easy-to-read summary of the latest news straight to your inbox daily.
8. Home Automation
Home automation is an ever-expanding trend, with options like Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Sonos One, and many others.
With home automation, you can adjust lights, temperature, security, and other items from your device. You can also give verbal commands to set timers, turn lights on and off, play music, update grocery lists, and so on.
To Wrap Up:
Even basic ideas like creating routines, setting out tomorrow’s outfit the night before, and using keyboard shortcuts can make your life easier.
These automation tips and many more can simplify and streamline your life. You’ll have more room in your brain for innovative ideas, bursts of inspiration, and... the next big thing;).
I’ve automated my life while running and growing Transizion. Now it’s your turn to maximize your productivity and focus more on what matters.
So, what do you think?
Have you tried any of these automation ideas? How did it go? Are there other ways you automate and simplify your life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!