How many hours do you spend on tedious and repetitive tasks? Most, if not all of them, could be automated to make room for more fun and meaningful activities in your life. In this article, you’ll find some examples, as well as some tutorials on how to automate your life to help make automation easier for you 🙂
But before I dig deep into why you want to automate, I’d like to give an analogy from the game Factorio.
Factorio: The automation game
The past weeks I’ve been playing quite a lot of Factorio (see screenshot below), where the goal is to build a rocket by creating an automated factory. It’s a logistically challenging game, and apparently, I love logistically challenging games since I love playing Factorio. One thing that’s quite clear after you’ve played a few hours of Factorio is that even though you can craft most of the things manually, it takes a lot less time to automate everything. To automate one task frees up time for you to work on meaningful jobs. Thus it allows you to progress and come closer and closer to building your first rocket.
Takes time to reach your goal
Even though it allows you to automate your tasks it still takes a while to set up all the automation. My first playthrough took around 44 hours.
It is similar to real life; it will take time to set up automatic processes that let you reach the end goal. You have to automate (or delegate) one task at a time until you have this (hopefully) beautiful system running.
Benefits of automating your tasks
So why would you want to automate your tasks in your life? From playing Factorio, but also applying automation in my own life, I see several benefits.
- More time for relevant, fun, and meaningful activities (that move you towards your goal)
- It’s the only way to reach big goals (you can’t do everything in your business)
- Less or no repetitive (tedious) work
What type of tasks can you automate?
Everything that is repetitive and follows a pattern. It might not be easy to automate everything with computers, but you also have the option to delegate the task to an assistant 🙂
To give you an idea of things you could automate in your life, I’ve created a rather extensive list of things you could automate. These aren’t just work-related, but life-related as well.
If you aren’t a programmer, a few of the tasks have simple how-to tutorials, simple even for a non-programmer to understand. And if you want something more elaborate, you could always hire a programmer to do the job for you. In fact, you could even employ another programmer even if you’re a programmer yourself. This way you can spend more time on meaningful tasks yourself.
Examples of tasks you could automate
- Download all invoices to Dropbox
- Add all invoices to your bookkeeping automatically
- Sort images by who’s in the picture, so it’s easy to send those pictures to that person
- Vacuum clean your apartment or house with a Rumba
- Send “Wish you a very happy birthday! :)” on Facebook for friends on their birthday
- Cut your grass with a robot
- Send automated random text messages to family and friends (to keep contact)
- Update Copyright year notice in all documents
- Create sharing links for all blog posts you write
- Automatically sort downloaded content into the right folder
- Order pizza
- Hide Facebook posts containing specific keywords
- Rename photos to include the date and time, maybe even what’s or who’s on it
- Using LastPass or 1Password to automatically (and more securely) fill in passwords (and forms) for all sites and apps on the phone
- Post or promote weekly events on Facebook with Buffer.com
- Monthly, weekly, or even daily backups
- Automatically create a weekly meal plan from your favorite meals, including a weekly shopping list that is added to your favorite TODO app.
- Set your phone to silent whenever you have a scheduled meeting on your calendar
- Create reports every week or month that’s mailed to you (or your boss)
- Set your phone to loud whenever you don’t have a wifi connection
- Go to bed by turning off your computer automatically at 10 pm Sunday to Thursday
Whether you feel some of these are morally okay or not, is up to each person. I’m not sure
What’s the catch?
Some automated tasks do take a shorter time to ‘develop’ than to do manually; for example, to sort 1000 pictures by who’s on the photo. But most automated tasks do take 2–10 times longer to develop than to do the task manually, which is also why I guess it’s so easy to continue doing the task manually (until you’ve had enough). But as Stephen Covey puts it in the 7 habits of highly successful people;
Many people refuse to delegate to other people because they feel it takes too much time and effort and they could do the job better themselves. But effectively delegating to others is perhaps the single most powerful high-leverage activity there is.
He talks about delegation, but I’m certain he’d approve that this works for automation as well.
Whenever I automate a repetitive and tedious task that takes 10–40 minutes to do I feel a great sense of accomplishment. And honestly, who wouldn’t if what used to take you 10–40 minutes, now takes 10 seconds instead. Often I get a sense of high and want to share my accomplishment with my girlfriend and friends 🙂 The latest being to automate stopping, updating, and starting all Factorio servers. Usually, it took about 2 minutes per server, now it takes 5 seconds in total 🙂 And it’s such a huge relief and powerful boost when I get to use the script now that I’m almost waiting for another update to be released. Before I created the script, I cursed every new update. I can still remember that one week where 6–8 updates were released, that was a nightmare. That was also the reason that I decided to create a simple script.
What can you automate in your life?
After playing Factorio for so many hours, I noticed a lot more things I could automate; these could also become fun side-projects 🙂 But here are the three most time-consuming tasks that I want to focus on
- Copy all new invoices from Gmail to Dropbox
- Create a script to do most, if not all, of the bookkeeping automatically
- Categorize and take a photo of receipts and add these to my financial app
So whether your idea of fun and meaningful activities are that of working towards your goal.
Or if you just want to have more time to be lazy so recharge your batteries.
What task will you automate so that you get more time for fun and meaningful activities? Please share your task below in the comments 🙂
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