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The Benefits of Automation

The Benefits of Automation

Photo by RalphBijker

    Automation is the use of control systems to control processes, reducing the need for human intervention. Putting this into context, automation is having technology do things for you so that you don’t have to.

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    Automation is all around us. When you’re at a set of traffic lights, there isn’t a traffic light operator that decides when to change the light from red to green. It is done automatically. The street lights come on at night automatically. There are no lamplighters running around turning each light on anymore. We can apply this same idea to our own life. Granted, most of us can’t create complex control systems, so we will have to do our best with what is available, but having the most mundane tasks automated will help free up some time.

    The advantages are clear. If every time you checked your e-mails, all the messages had been sorted into folders before you logged on, you save time that you would have previously spent. If your Twitter account posts a message every time you update your website, you save time because you don’t need to do it yourself.

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    If you spend an hour a day doing small tasks like these, you’re wasting a considerable amount of time. Automating these tasks will allow you to be able to work on what you consider is important. All you have to worry about is the technology working…

    A good starting point is to automate the things that we don’t want to spend time doing. Sorting e-mails into folders, de-cluttering your hard drive, updating all of your social media profiles. These little monotonous tasks can begin to take up a significant part of our day.

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    Automating your e-mail sorting is a good first step for many. It is easy to do and there are tutorials for all the e-mail applications that you can think of. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Mail. Find a tutorial on Google and apply it to your computer.

    There are many, many tutorials on automating tasks. From having Gmail automatically sort your emails with labels, or having a program record what you do in Microsoft Office and then repeat that when necessary. Any task that you can think of that is repetitive can be done with a computer. That is one of the purposes of a computer. Carrying out repetitive monotonous tasks so that we don’t have to.

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    A web application that I find very handy is Twitterfeed. Everytime I post an update to my site, Twitterfeed automatically creates and publishes a message with a link to the post. All of my followers are given a link to my blog post without me having done more than publish it. This can be expanded further, as Facebook has an application that will update your Facebook account with your Twitter messages. So when Twitterfeed updates your Twitter account with the post, the Facebook application (named Twitter) will update your Facebook account. Again, all done without any input (apart from the initial setup).

    Ask yourself how you can apply the same idea to all aspects of your day. What do you spend your time doing that you could automate? Free up some time and you could be spending it doing something worthwhile. Let technology do things for you while you get on with the things that are important.

    After you get one task automated, you’ll find others that you can automate too. Having all those small tasks automated will really affect the amount of free time you have. That’s time you can spend doing something you want to.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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