Very Excellent Habits

7 Things You Need To Automate… and 1 Thing You Don’t



I LOVE self serve checkouts. Love them. With a passion. I know there are whispers of how they kill social interaction and apparently cost jobs but for me, I just love being able to run in, grab what I need and get the hell out again. Unless it does that god awful thing where it thinks you don’t have a bag but you DO have a bag and then it shits itself and needs to be rescued. I only like self serve checkouts if I don’t have to get a staff member to help me. It’s like a game. ‘Can I scan and pay for all my groceries without the little red light coming on? Almost there… god damn it single birdseye chilli that’s far too light to register any weight on the check out plate. You ruined EVERYTHING!!!’

Don’t get me wrong, I bloody love a chat with a stranger. My hair once ended up three shades lighter than it should have because my hairdresser got too distracted talking to me. I know the name of the lady who runs my local health food store (Hi Kathleen!) and our barista knows more about how my child slept last night than her grandparents do. I have lots of wonderful interactions every day, so the ‘loss’ of supermarket interactions isn’t exactly a concern for me.

That’s how I feel about automation. If I can automate something, I will. As a veteran automator, I spoke at a conference years ago teaching bloggers about ‘batching’. Back then I was blogging five times a week but writing them all on the same day and automating the posts to go live. Half the room were horrified. ‘But… it’s not authentic then!’. The thing is, there’s no difference between me hitting publish or scheduling a bot to do it for me. A bot can do it at premium times. A bot can do it for me when I’m busy. And a bot won’t drink too much red wine and accidentally tweet ‘90210 REBOOT MUTHA FUCKAAAAHHHHH!’ on a client’s account it forgot to sign out of.

Some people are a little bit scared of automation. I get it. I’ve seen I, Robot.  Machines are sneaky little sausages, so you’ve got to keep an eye on them. They can be super helpful for productivity though.

When people seek out advice on being productive it’s usually because they have an issue with one of the following things.

Time – ‘Holy shit how is it 2 am? YouTube should have a lockout time.’
Energy – ‘I don’t want to stand up for anyone or anything.’
Attention – ‘I can’t do this thing because it is catastrophically boring.’

Automation is a tool that can help a little bit with Energy and Attention (by not needing to focus on some things, you can have increased focus and energy for others), but it can really help with Time.

Here are some things I automate to save me time…

1. Investments – I use Raiz. It takes like $50 a week out of my bank and invests it. I don’t have to think about, it just does it and I’ve got this chunk of money just sitting there earning interest. Bam. Wham. Wake me up before you go-go…

2. Lighting – We have an Apple Home Pod and have our lights on automate with sequences set up. So for example when it’s time to give our daughter her dreamfeed we say ‘Hey Siri, it’s time to feed the baby.’ and the lights dim, the TV turns off and everything is calm and ready for dreamfeed without us having to run around and do it all ourselves.

3. Shopping – We subscribe to a coffee pod company we just signed up to called Urban Brew. So I never have to remember to buy coffee. We do the same thing with toilet paper with Who Gives a Crap and Woolworths online. It’s not automated technically but you can save orders and repeat them which saves heaps of time.

4. Posting to social media – I think most bloggers do this but I rarely post in real-time. I use Grum (for Instagram) and Co-schedule for the blog. My insta stories are mostly in real-time though.

5. Savings – I have 10% of every payment go straight into a tax account, another 10% go straight into a savings account and another 10% go straight into my super. It’s on auto so if it ever takes money from a rare payment it shouldn’t I just reverse it. Easy peasy.

6. Emails – I have auto settings to sort emails into different folders, some of which I totally ignore. I also have canned responses and scripts ready for replies so I don’t have to type them out all the time.

7. Backups – I take no credit for this but Mr Smaggle has auto backups on my computer/phone/everything so I never lose stuff. Apparently, you can do this yourself but if computers hate you a little bit (like they hate me – I must have called them a slag on the bus in year 7 or something) find or pay a tech-whisperer to sort it out for you.

1 thing you don’t necessarily have to automate…

1. Invoices – It’s just never worked for me. I have heaps of clients, weird hours, different hourly rates, contracts, ongoing jobs, project-based jobs. It’s just way too complicated. I’ve never been able to teach an automated system to do my invoicing so I just do it myself with Xero. I don’t mind it actually. Makes me feel like a proper grown-up badass business lady. Picture me aggressively stamping documents, sporting a perm and pastel-coloured pumps with Working 9 to 5 as my backing track, please.

This week’s episode of Straight & Curly is about automation – how to do it, what to use and what works. You can listen here or on your favourite podcast app.

Side note – see that empty box above? Yeah… that’s because this week’s episode doesn’t go live until tomorrow, Wednesday. I got ahead of myself. Check back tomorrow and it wil be available then!

What do you automate? Anything I’m missing?

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