Why Not . . . Automate It? 12 Ways to Improve the Everyday
Wednesday March 7, 2018

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“The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatisation, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.” —Mason Curry, author of Daily Rituals

Life is full, our days are bustling and when we run out of our necessary skincare items, or are late to pay our monthly bills because, well, life happens, a simple mistake can be frustrating.

After reading David Bach’s Automatic Millionaire, I was reminded of the simple, yet life improving decision to reduce the amount of decisions we need to make on a regular basis.

In episode #110 of the podcast, the topic of willpower was discussed, and one of the main takeaways was that each day when we wake up we have a limited amount of willpower until we go to bed at night and recharge. With that in mind, our decision making abilities grow weaker throughout the day, so it would behoove us to reduce the amount of decisions we have to make and eliminate entirely the decisions we only need to make once rather than each month or two months or every year when, for example, property taxes are due.

Today I’d like to share with you a list of decisions we can each automate to simplify our lives, enable them to continue to run smoothly and free our minds to focus on what actually needs our focused and full attention.

1. All regular monthly bills

From the basic utilities, to the minimum amount on your credit cards, you can automate each of these bills to be paid on a particular date each month, paying a particular amount. This idea is a focal point in David Bach’s book, as it ensures we never have a late payment and allocates the funds automatically.

2. Savings & Retirement accounts

One of the best decisions I made before my first teaching paycheck ever arrived when I began teaching at the age of 22 was to automatically deduct, pre-tax, money for my retirement account. I still have yet to know how much I would be taking home if I didn’t deduct the retirement savings, and I’d like to keep it that way as I might be too tempted to change; however, by now, it has proven to be entirely worth it, and even if I did peek, I’d like to think I would definitely keep doing what I am doing. Whether it is a pre-tax deduction or an automatic reduction for a Roth IRA or a savings account that is for your emergency or vacation fund, set it and forget it. (View TSLL Money Archived posts for specific topics.)

3. Go-to Beauty Items

From my moisturizer, dry-shampoo, specific make-up products and a few other items, the beauty products I use everyday, when I run out, leave a gap in the quality of my skin. While not all of the brands I use make available an automatic renewal, the three I have found so far that do are Bobbi Brown’s Auto Replenishment, Neiman Marcus’s Beauty Replenishment Services and Le Mar’s Replenishment Program

4. Incoming email sorting

Depending on the email system you use, you can set up Rules (Apple Mail) to sort your incoming mail automatically. For example, instead of everything arriving in your inbox, if you want email with particular subjects, content or from certain email addresses to be sent to your “Work” email inbox, you can make that rule. As email becomes the more often depended upon means by which we communicate rather than our voicemail or phone, making sure we tend to the items that are a priority in a timely matter and not become distracted by those discount emails or email subscription reminders that can be tended to in a couple day’s time as opposed to the work or personal emails that need a response within 24 hours, ensures our communication is quick and dependable.

~If you are in a business in which you receive an excessive amount of emails, Contactually is contact management software to check out as well.

5. Sync your apps

If you are someone who relies on particular apps on a regular basis (music, planning, mail, social media, etc.), enabling them to communicate with each other without your direction may be something that you’d like to automate. The app IFTTT (If This Than That) is designed to save you time and read your mind (already I have synced my IG postings with Pinterest and it eliminates from extra step I no longer have to do). Have a look to see why it was chosen as an Editor’s Productivity Choice on Apple’s App Store. Zapier is another app that allows you to sync five apps for free, and if you use Apple, Workflow does exactly the same thing as IFTTT.

6. Set up automated email responses as necessary

Depending upon your business as well as your travel schedule, setting up an automated email response to alert people that you will not be responding as promptly as you normally do and perhaps who to contact while you are away, is a simple one-step practice to tend to when your schedule changes in order to reduce how much work or emails to respond to you will have when you return.

7. Social media postings

If you have a business with an online presence, choosing to automate your social media posts is a way to save time and organize your thoughts on your schedule. Use Hootsuite, CoSchedule or Buffer depending upon exactly what type of automation you need. Smarter Queue is another option for a small fee.

8. News to keep you informed without overwhelming you

Each morning when I wake up, one of the first emails that has arrived (3 am Pacific Time) is the DailySkimm. Many TSLL readers use this news aggregation because it simplifies, streamlines, and keeps us informed with a playful tone regarding their presentation of what has happened over the past 24 hours. Another option is Circa.

~A TSLL reader recommended The Economist’s Espresso app, and after checking it out, I have downloaded it for myself. You can enjoy it for free each morning (6 days a week offering the latest headlines from around the world) in which you are able to read one article in full, or you can pay $2.99/mo to read as many articles as you want each morning.

9. Home products used regularly

If you are an Amazon Prime member you may already know about this option: Subscribe and Save. Similar to the #2, if there are items around your home that you regularly buy and never want to be without, set up a subscription to have it charged and delivered on a set schedule. As well, you will save money as you receive an automatic discount as well.

10. Entertainment subscriptions

For the monthly or weekly magazines you read, to any source that brings information or entertainment into your life, set the subscription to automatic so that you don’t have to worry about missing an issue or an event each time the annual renewal comes due.

11. Home comforts

From the heat or air conditioning being set to a timer in your home (awake time and temperature, etc.), to the automatic sprinklers in the summer to conserve water and keep everything properly watered, setting up automatic tasks saves you time and ensures all is taken care of. As well, if you have cable, set up your DVR to record your favorite shows and programs to enable you to watch on your own schedule without having to view the commercials (or just cut the cord and watch everything online or via Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, etc.).

12. Autopilot your routines

Some habits we can welcome into our lives while not officially automation are actually human automation. Take a look at the list below of habits to practice that reduce extra tasks and unnecessary frustration when not tended to efficiently.

  • Reschedule your next hair, wax, health or wellness appointment before leaving from the most recent.
  • Eat the same or similar breakfast each morning that will ensure you are eating well and are fueled adequately for the day ahead (view my daily breakfast here).
  • Create rituals that nourish you, your mind, your body and your soul that become second nature (meditating, walking, exercising, evening reading, sipping tea, nibbling on chocolate – view a list of ideas here, here and here).

While this list offers suggestions, pick and choose what would enable you to live a life of fewer decisions to improve the quality of your days. While some may just make life too cumbersome, others will simplify your life in a way you may not have known was possible. As well, please do share automation you are using in your own life that are working well. I am always looking for new ideas to share.


~Why Not . . . Simplify Your Choices? episode #62

~18 Ways to Simplify the Daily and Weekly Routines

~Why Not . . . Simplify Your Life?(3 part series)

6 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Automate It? 12 Ways to Improve the Everyday

  1. Hi Shannon. This may not qualify as automatic so much, but one thing I like to do is put my laundry in the washing machine in the morning and set the timer on the machine to start the wash so that it is finished when I come home. I don’t like the wet clothes or towels laying in the machine for a long period of time, so when I come home, the load has just finished, I put it in the dryer or hang it, and then I take my shower and then fold the load. I do this almost daily, depending on the amount, and I always keep up with laundry and I don’t spend my precious time off doing laundry.

  2. Great topic Shannon. A day with few decisions means a more productive day. Paying bills and managing finances automatically is a great habit.My automation is my on line grocery shopping which gets delivered every Friday. It’s easy to set up and use and cancel for holidays etc. I also prep all my vegetables for the week on Friday evening. I still enjoy going to the farmer’s market but only once a month
    Bon weekend?

  3. I am on board with so many of these. Taking the time and effort out of necessary but tedious tasks frees up time, mental space, and often money (since we’re not forced to pay more at the last minute, incur late fees, etc). On the news front, I get The Skimm, but I’m an even bigger fan of the app Espresso, which is a news summary published every day by The Economist. It’s not free, but it’s not expensive, and I always appreciate their take on global and US events.

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