We can save ourselves a lot of stress by creating automatization in our life. Automation isn't just about automatic bill pay but also about your daily habits. It doesn't mean you become robotic; instead, you are saving your brain for what is more important to focus on.
What does automation look like in my daily life?
Automation in our daily life is simply creating habits and systems that make routines, so we don't have to think about them. We have many that we use and never think about. For example, each morning when I wake up, I grab a coffee cup, put it under the Keurig, put in a pod, push the button, and pour in some cashew milk. I am usually half asleep when I do it - I am running on complete automatic.
Habits are automatic choices that influence the conscious decisions that follow. James Clear, Atomic Habits
I also use technical automation to simplify other aspects of my life. For example, most of my bills are paid automatically, and a Robot vacuums my house when I leave without me thinking.
How does automation reduce stress?
We usually think of automation as a time saver that helps us become more efficient with our time, but it also reduces cognitive load and, as a result, our stress levels. Basically, every time we have to make a decision, that puts stress on the brain to weigh the pros and cons and consider potential outcomes quickly. These quick calculations require brain power and some stress until we have reached a decision. Each decision also leads to more decisions, and the stress begins to build.
Consider the decision tree above. You have to make a choice; then, each option leads to another. Just by going two decisions deep, you have created eight possible outcomes. Getting to each of these outcomes causes you to pause and think (even if, for a moment, that passes so quickly that you don't notice it).
Now imagine if you had a habit in which these decisions had already been made, as shown in the diagram below.
Notice that now you don't have your brain busy with all the options and decisions. You have the result that your habit was designed to bring, and now your brain is free to focus on what you want it to do.
Returning to my example of getting a cup of coffee in the morning, imagine my morning without that habit. Some of the following questions would be going through my head...
What should I do when I wake up?
Should I doom scroll?
What kind of cup?
What kind of coffee?
Do I want sugar?
What kind of cream?
However, my habit has already made all those decisions for me, so I can instead use my brain to focus on the more cognitively demanding tasks of my day. The more we can do to automate tasks, the more our brains will be free to focus on the more challenging aspects of our day.
How can I automate my life?
Try adopting some of these strategies to put more of your day on auto-pilot so your brain will have more power to focus on those aspects that require deep thinking.
1. List your repeated activities
Think of activities you do repetitively. These tasks can be built into habits and routines or possibly used with technology. Jobs done infrequently or differently each time will not work for automatization.
2. Schedule routine tasks
Think about tasks you repeat, like exercising or checking your email. Set a time in your daily or weekly schedule to do them so you won't have to think about if or when you will do them. For example, if I say I'll try to do yoga as a midafternoon break, I am much less likely to do it than if I follow my morning routine of a walk followed by yoga and a shower. The more you can automate, the better, but at the very least...
3. Design a morning and night routine
The morning and evening routines are the most important. The morning routine helps set a rhythm for your day. My morning routine includes coffee, meditation, more coffee, walking, yoga, showering, and planning my day. Each of these items also follows a routine as well. Admittedly, I don't follow my habits religiously, but I am much calmer and more focused when I follow my routine.
The night routine is a great way to wind down and prepare for sleep. One routine I cannot do without is reading. If I don't read a bit each night, I struggle to fall asleep.
4. Use technology
As I mentioned, you can set up automatic bill payments and use a robot vacuum, but what else can technology take care of for you? You may be amazed how much you can get technology to work for you. My garage door opens automatically as I near home, my thermostat adjusts to me being home/away, my irrigation system checks the weather and skips when there is rain or freezing temperatures. I have set up multiple reminders for weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks for my business. Many tasks can be automated through email templates and even automatically generated emails. I want to explore IFTTT more to automate even more tasks at work and home.
What about you?
How do you automate your life? How does automation save you from stress? Please let me know in the comments section!
Visit Lindow Learning to read more tips on improving your team's performance or for help growing better humans and improving the impact of your organization's mission.
Clear, James. Atomic Habits. Penguin Publishing Group, 16 Oct. 2018.