Automation: An Overview of Getting Back Your Life

Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

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It wasn’t long ago that I was asked to do an interview with the lovely coach Tanya Smith. (The recording is available from She asked me what my number one tip for being more productive.

And my tip?


Work and Life Are Interconnected

I have a rather radical view: your work life and the rest of your life are connected. That doesn’t mean that you need to be working 24/7, or that work bleeding into your home life is acceptable. Nor does it mean that you get to read novels during your work time (unless that is your job).

It means that because you have one life, your work will impact your non-work life, and your non-work life will impact your work life. It’s all one big continuum of time.

So by automating as much as you can, you free up time both for work and non-work activities. The added bonus is that by automating, you no longer have to think or do as much.

What Is Automation?

Automation, according to, is “the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

So automation is simply the act of getting ourselves out of the picture.

We live in highly automated times as it is. Email automates the process of sending written communication. Washing machines automate the laundry process that used to take hours of manual labor. Central heat automates the process of producing heat for the home, eliminating the need to chop wood and feed a stove. Refrigerators automate the process that used to consist of cutting ice from frozen ponds or rivers.

And we can take it a step further to give ourselves more time to focus on the things that mean a lot to us.

What Isn’t Automation?

One of the things I hear frequently is that automation leads to impersonalization. While that may be true in some cases, bear in mind that I do not advocate automation in all areas of our lives.

For example, I once read a book that recommended automating cards and birthday presents to a virtual assistant. Yes, that’s automation, but it destroys the relationship with the person. My mother isn’t interested in the card or flowers, but rather the relationship and gratitude expressed by them.

So I do not recommend automating things that detract from the real worth areas of your life: personal relationships that you value.

I feel good automating my shopping by delegating it to a personal shopper. Why? I do not have, nor do I need to have, a personal relationship with the produce manager at my local grocery store.

I feel good automating some of my house cleaning with the robot vacuum because I most definitely do not want to have a closer relationship with my vacuum cleaner.

I feel good automating my task list to remind me to send out regular communication to those who live far away; without regular contact these relationships would wither, but at the same time I cannot rely on my memory to prompt me to do this.

I do not recommend automating anything that should be done by you: selecting gifts for your family, correspondence with your friends, apologies, or anything that affects interpersonal relationships.

Places To Automate

Over the next few months, I will have articles on how to automate your life in various areas. Next week we will start with automation around the house as an overview. When you automate many of your day-to-day tasks, you will have more time to do as you wish.

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