I often joke that I need an "Alice." You know…Alice from the Brady Bunch. (I’m dating myself…I know.) Better yet, I need a "Rosie," the robot-maid from The Jetsons because she did more than home management chores. Didn’t Rosie change the oil on Mr. J’s car once? LOL.
My references may be outdated but the sentiment is on trend. The practical side of alignment, getting the important things done, takes its toll on the primary engineer (me).
I was flowing the first couple of weeks of this month. I met my deadlines, kept working my strategies and my family was fed dinner every night. (They tend to like that part.) Then I added an appointment and got slowed down by an errand, and the time to dedicate to my important tasks was completely lost. Have you been there?
I recently began exploring the idea of automation as a solution. Automation was originally coined to describe the technological application to processes people used to manage. NASA used people as computers, i.e. Hidden Figures before IBM introduced mainframes to do the job.
But that is not what I’m talking about necessarily for my life and business. Automation has use beyond technology. It is simply the systemization of recurring tasks or processes.
When my two eldest children were approaching their teen years, I decided I wanted (needed, really) for them to begin to manage their own laundry. I recalled that by the age of thirteen, I had already been taking care of my own laundry for some time and I didn’t want to rob my kids of this important life skill. <wink, wink>
I reviewed my laundry process: sort, load washer, choose wash type, add detergent, etc. I created an easy twelve-step guide and posted it in the laundry room. I had them shadow me for a few weeks. Then left them to it. At first, it was difficult to watch them take almost twice as long to do each step as it took me. But now, a few years later, they have a rhythm. That rhythm is evidence of automation.
The key to true automation is the conscious decision to do it. Then, think and analyze the process. Identify the “best” steps to complete the tasks and meet the goal. After that, just duplicate the process.
Note: What is “best” can only be defined within the context of the objective.
My objective was to reduce some of the laundry load and teach my children age-appropriate chores that would benefit them in the future. I did not need them to do the laundry exactly the way I do it. Therefore, my best steps were outlined in terse terms with very general explanations.
This experience led me to seek out other systems in my life that could be automated and some cases, delegated, like the laundry. I identified three ways where automation makes sense.
If humans are creatures of habit, then I'm superhuman. (I keep my cape hidden. LOL.) I naturally lock-in on habitual behavior. I tend to approach every new task looking for the best practice for my objective. Once I strike it, I seek to make a habit of doing it every time, the same way.
This may not be how you’re wired. That’s ok. Replicate my process. Pay attention to the outcomes of a specific repetitive task. Try slightly different approaches to see which yields the optimal result. Make note of it. Literally, if need be. Then repeat.
This can be done with everything from your morning routine to circuit training to your client relationship building. Believe it or not, automation of these types of tasks frees up the mind for creativity and improves productivity in other areas.
The key to this form of automation is the documentation of the process. I reflected on the simple outline of my laundry workflow. I then used this approach to automate the coffee making and heating/cooling in my home. At a certain time, daily, each does its thing. Set it and forget it!
In my business, I have begun documenting the steps I take in preparing this content for you. There are about two to three hours of additional steps in the blog prep workflow beyond the writing. Eventually, I will hire a team member to specifically manage those aspects of the blog publishing process. My documented process will make the delegation transition and automation, seamless.
Good ole fashioned technological automation still plays an integral role in our lives. Here are a few applications that are great supports for today’s lifestyle.
Did you ever have a friend try to reach out to you…but you haven’t connected in a loooong time…and they find out that your number is no longer active…so they reach out via social media…publicly? 😒 I hate when that happens! Addappt is a great tool that will update your contact information for all your contacts, privately. It makes keeping your friends updated easy.
Pushover pushes notifications from emails to texts, on your different devices, into one streamlined communication. You also have the opportunity to decide how often you receive your pushed notification. It works on iOS, Android and desktop devices.
I love Grammarly. It’s a free grammar checking tool that checks the grammar of all your content. How it works: it’s a plugin that is engaged every time you write. It automatically detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and style mistakes in your writing, according to its site. I love it because even though I have a degree in English Lit and love to write, I can use the support.
Whether you need a little or a lot of support living out your best self at work and at home, I hope this post whets your appetite for automation. It may not be Rosie but automation may be a strategy that works for you!
Until next time…