I get asked a lot about automation services like IFTTT and Zapier.
I like those services, but I don’t use them as much as some might think. I rarely use Zapier for anything and I have few IFTTT recipes. If I find an automation that might work for me and lessen my workload, then I’ll consider it. However, I’m hesitant to implement it. The reason for this is I don’t want to have to deal with the fallout of the service not working the way it is supposed to work.
There’s something to be said for digital automation but I don’t think enough time is spent addressing an automation we can take care of on our own: self automation.
Self automation is a way to consistently use frameworks for ourselves that we trust. When these frameworks are used intentionally, this kind of automation is the best kind of automation.
The idea of theming days is one of the best forms of self automation available. We give each day an overarching area of focus, and then our minds only need to think of what day it is and associate the tasks with that day, rather than skim and scan through to do lists looking for the next thing to do.
Theming can also work for different times of the day, meaning that you can automate the overarching focus between 9 and 11 AM by assigning that time chunk a theme. Then you can dive deeper into the details of your to do list to work on whatever tasks correspond with that theme.
The thought of “what day is it?” leads to a quick decision more than the thought of “what should I do next?” And the longer you stick with theming your time (whether by day or by time chunk), the more automated your assigning of tasks to the appropriate days and times will become.
Using automation just to speed things up isn’t the best course of action. It’s tempting to do so but there needs to be better intentions behind it. Creating a habit through self automation makes it stick internally and self automation has fewer bottlenecks when things don’t work out. That’s because with when self automation comes across a bottleneck, the bottleneck is you. Discovering that may be a bitter pill to swallow, but the payoff is worth it when you deal with it head on.
So before you dive too deep into the world of digital automation through services like IFTT and Zapier, look in the mirror. Figure out what you should self automate first. Get that sorted and working. Then you’ll have a better sense of what external automation you should – and more importantly, shouldn’t – do.