Jori Hamilton 9m 2,161 #productivity
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The ability to be productive is a critical part of modern success. With so many demands bearing down on the modern 21st-century individual, professionals must find ways to be as efficient and productive as possible.
It’s a concept that is often applied on a company level, but it should also be considered on a personal one, as well.
Automation is a hot topic in the business world these days. Entrepreneurs, accountants, marketers, and pretty much every other kind of professional can benefit from the countless abilities of automation.
Outsourcing is another business trend that has maintained a solid level of professional traction over the years. From manufacturing overseas to hiring a secretary for administrative work to having the team’s coffees delivered by DoorDash, outsourcing remains a common form of delegation for those with busy careers.
Even so, when outsourcing and automation are brought up as productivity options, it’s always done so about the workplace. But what about personal life? How can outsourcing and automation impact you on an individual level? This can be about your job as well as your private life. With work-life balance continuing to be a top workplace trend, managing both personal and professional productivity will be essential.
That said, here are some suggestions for the best ways to utilize the powers of outsourcing and automation within your own life. Consider the following activities (and others like them) as you look for ways to simplify your activities, reduce your workload, and generally seek out a better work-life balance.
Let’s start with an obvious aspect of personal automation and outsourcing — you’re everyday life. Life is filled with countless tasks that start from the second you wake up until the moment you get back into bed at night. For many, that window of time can eat up 20 or more hours of the day as they go about tending to an endless list of responsibilities. All these activities and all these responsibilities can lead to compassion fatigue, a common issue for professionals in caring industries like healthcare and social work. Yet it can happen to anyone who becomes overwhelmed by too much in their lives. Compassion fatigue can lead to burnout, but it can be mitigated by delegation.
Fortunately, there are ways to delegate many of the time-consuming elements of life without much trouble. Here are a few ideas to help you start offloading your daily activities. Many of these require a certain degree of monetary investment. However, it’s important to remember that you’re exchanging money for an increase in your available time. As a busy professional, time has value all on its own and it only grows as more things demand your attention.
Shopping can take up hours of the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re restocking grocery staples, getting things for a special event, or making a larger purchase like a laptop or smartphone, shopping takes time.
One of the best ways to delegate a portion of your shopping experience is to do it online. This can help you both automate and outsource parts of your shopping activities, such as:
- Helping you quickly access quality product information and shopping tips through online research.
- Opting to have your groceries ready in a designated curbside pickup zone when you arrive.
- Having groceries delivered directly to your door via a shipping service.
- Setting up auto-subscribe on shopping services like Amazon or Thrive Market so that recurring purchases are automatically shipped to you every month.
It’s difficult to completely withdraw from the shopping gig. There is simply too much individuality required to completely put this area of your life on autopilot. Nevertheless, there are many ways that you can reduce the workload and shorten the time you spend shopping.
Food prep is another personal activity that goes hand-in-hand with shopping. Once again, you can outsource your food prep in multiple ways, such as:
- Ordering your food from a local restaurant and having it delivered.
- Using a meal app like UberEats or GrubHub to streamline your ordering and delivery experience.
- Patronizing a service like HelloFresh to have meal packages with minimal preparation instructions delivered to your home.
There are other ways to refine the automated and outsourced aspects of these options, as well, especially if you use a little creativity. For example, you can make arrangements with a local restaurant to have recurring meals delivered. Give them a selection of your favorite options and then ask them to personalize the combination each time.
Many food delivery apps and online menus also have personal account settings. This enables you to save “favorite” meals and order options and makes ordering food as quick as the click of a button.
If you live out in the country or use your car often and for a variety of different activities, this next option may not be much help. However, if you work from home, live in the city, or otherwise require minimal personal transportation, consider using tech and outsourcing to eliminate your travel responsibilities.
Instead, use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft to keep you moving from one place to the next. This may seem expensive. However, typical automotive expenses include things like:
- Car payments;
If you can save yourself all of these expenses, it can often make outsourcing your transportation well worth the effort.
If you own your own home, you’re probably well aware that being a homeowner comes with an avalanche of neverending responsibilities. At this point, technology is doing its level best to make the burden of homeownership more bearable.
One of the best ways to utilize tech to automate your home life is by steering into the internet of things or the IoT. This popular term refers to the process of building a connected network of devices that communicate and send messages to one another to enhance your life. There are numerous small ways that you can upgrade your home to remove responsibilities from your plate, such as:
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- Installing a smart thermostat to control your home environment.
- Using smart LED lightbulbs to make sure the lights are turned off.
- Purchasing smart home appliances that, once programmed, can brew coffee, heat your home, and do other menial tasks with minimal assistance.
A quiet-yet-profound benefit of using the IoT is that it also allows you to tap into a proactive repair cycle — your IoT devices can signal a skilled tradesman that a system needs servicing. In other words, your semi-self-aware network will be able to diagnose impending issues. At times, this will spur maintenance and repair work before a problem actually arises. This can help you avoid losing valuable time due to a particular device or even your entire home network going down.
When it comes to outsourcing, in particular, there are several common ways that you can ease the time-consuming aspects of your personal calendar. For example, you can:
- Hire a landscaper to help maintain the exterior of your home.
- Have a cleaning service come regularly to tidy up your living spaces.
- Get a good handyman on call to help with tough installations and speed up any larger repairs or maintenance activities that may arise.
- Recruit a good virtual assistant to help restore a sense of control over your calendar, communications, and other personal and professional logistics.
While you may not be able to afford a personal entourage, these are small, affordable ways that you can outsource various activities in your life to professionals.
One area of personal life that is ripe for automation of all sorts is your finances — which is good because properly handled finances are critical to personal success. Things like missed payments and botched taxes can tank your credit score and leave you paying penalties or even worse.
You can use automation to clean up your credit and save time typically spent on other financial activities by:
- Taking advantage of direct deposit to ensure that your paycheck gets into your bank account with minimal time or effort wasted.
- Setting up auto-pay on as many of your recurring bills as possible to avoid the unfortunate situation of having missed payments.
- Using a good budgeting app that can grow and adapt to your needs, all while helping you live responsibly and within your means.
- Getting a good accountant on tap to help provide financial advice and take the enormous burden of filing your taxes off of your plate.
Your finances are a critical part of your life that requires a ton of attention. Fortunately, if you find that you’re limited on time, you can automate many areas of your finances to ensure that you’re helping and not hurting yourself through your financial activity.
Along with your personal life, it’s also important to look for ways to automate and outsource in your professional life. Again, this isn’t referring to company-level solutions, but rather small ways that you can make your career easier to handle.
One of the trickiest things about working from home is dealing with the enormous amount of added activities that it demands. For instance, there are countless aspects of your home tech that require research, knowledge, installation, upgrades, and other tough decisions.
While there isn’t a single solution to the IT issue, there are plenty of ways to outsource or automate your home IT setup, such as:
- Turning on auto-updates on all of your devices to keep them updated and secure.
- Hiring a friend to help set up your home network.
- Having a handyman or cable company employee install things like routers, televisions, and other devices that require careful setup.
It’s difficult enough learning how to use modern tech. Setting it up and maintaining it at home is something that should be outsourced whenever possible.
If you find that you do many mindless or mundane activities as part of your work, you can look for an IFTTT option to help smooth the process out. IFTTT stands for “if this then that” and refers to software that helps to unite and connect various devices, services, and applications that you use.
In the same way that your company might use a service like Zapier to simplify complex communications, you can use an IFTTT solution to trigger a chain reaction of activities. If you’re a blogger, posting a blog could automatically lead to the content being cross-posted on other publications, shared on various social media platforms, or even backed up. If you use your phone to send a message, IFTTT could also propagate that message across your communication platforms.
Below are a few additional tips to help you find the most success with each of the above suggestions:
- Set a budget: Outsourcing and automation are expensive activities at times. It’s wise to set a budget so that you can funnel your resources toward the most helpful options.
- Research: It’s important to protect your own reputation by researching the quality and reviews of a piece of software or an outsourcing service before choosing it.
- Create goals: Setting both short- and long-term goals is a critical activity if you want to be productive. Consider what you want to get out of your outsourcing and automation choices. Then loop back to review if you’ve met those goals in the future.
- Don’t get lazy: Finally, once you start to outsource and automate your life, you’re going to feel that you can take a breath. This is wonderful. However, remember that you’re trying to free up time to focus on what really matters and put your best foot forward. Resist the urge to use outsourcing and automation solutions to simply be lazy.
If you can be strategic about how you approach your productivity solutions, they will always be more effective.
Productivity isn’t a word reserved for corporate strategies and bustling workplaces. It can also be directly applied to your personal life. From individual career initiatives and development to streamlining your various everyday activities, there are always ways to help ease some of the tension that comes with a busy lifestyle.
The important thing is that you assess your needs, consider your options, and then creatively strategize possible solutions. If you can do that, you can begin to increase your productivity and reduce your overall stress at the same time.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.