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We have such a limited number of hours in the day. Why waste our precious hours on tasks that we can easily automate? Automation and organization allow us to spend time doing the things we want to do and optimize the rest. Are you living an automated life? Or are you trapped in an endless cycle of menial tasks? Find out the steps I took to take full advantage of automation and organization!
Automate Your Reminders
Forgetfulness is a trait that many of us are unfortunate enough to carry. Fortunately, there are tons of awesome apps to combat this problem!
I personally use the default Reminders app on the iPhone. I find that it is simple and intuitive. Reminders are great for repeated tasks or things unworthy of your calendar. These reminders can range from tasks such as “Send an email to ____” to “Change the batteries in the smoke detector”.
Each reminder can be customized with the following specifications.
Give the task a name.
Remind me on a day
Here you can set the date and time of the reminder. After you’ve set the date and time, you can choose whether or not to “Repeat” this reminder.
For example, if I need to send a weekly email on Monday at 8:00 AM, I would select next Monday’s date, 8:00 AM, and “Weekly” for the repeat option.
The Repeat options include: Never, Every Day, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every Month, Every Year, or Custom. The Custom option allows you to create repeat reminders that do not fit into the other options.
Remind me at a location
This is one of my favorite features. This allows you to create reminders based on your location.
For example, I could set a reminder to buy milk when I’m at (or forgetfully passing) the convenience store. This reminder has saved me countless times!
If your phone is connected to your car via BlueTooth, this app just got even better for you. You can set location-sensitive reminders when your phone connects OR disconnects with your car’s BlueTooth.
Setting the priority of your reminder indicates how important the task is. This won’t change anything within the Reminders app itself, but if you link your reminders with Outlook, iCal or iCloud, the items with the highest priority will appear first.
This option allows you to connect your reminders with a list. I connect mine with my iCloud account.
Important Note: If you have a Yahoo Account connected to your device, don’t use that account for your list. For some reason, Yahoo and Reminders seem to have compatibility issues and your reminders may disappear.
This section allows you to make notes about your reminder. For example, your reminder name may be “Call cable company”. You can use the notes feature to remember specific points to mention in your conversation.
The Notes section also helps to organize your reminders. A reminder doesn’t look very clean if you type a full paragraph in the “Name” section.
Although I do not personally use Todoist, I have heard great things about it. It’s a bit more in-depth than Reminders. However, I stick with the Reminders app due to its simplicity. Check out this in-depth tutorial if you’re interested in using Todoist.
Automate Your Calendars
Whether you’re using Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, or Outlook Calendar, a calendar is a great way to stay organized.
While Reminders are great for tasks, calendars are preferable for events and travel. I put business meetings, travel plans, and birthdays into my calendar. Fortunately, nearly every calendar app has a reminder function so you don’t forget about your plans!
I personally use Google Calendar because I find it easy to use, but any of the calendars mentioned above are fine. It’s all up to personal preference. I’ll link to three great tutorials if you’d like to get started with any one of them.
My two favorite ways to automate and organize food are through grocery lists and meal prepping.
If you’re anything like me, your grocery list is practically the same every week (give or take a few items depending on deals and availability).
I use the AnyList app to automate my grocery list. On this app, you can create a grocery list (or several) and reuse it (or them) every time you shop. AnyList has collectively saved me tens or hundreds of tedious hours. Say goodbye the archaic handwritten grocery list.
After you create your free account, you can share your list with family and friends. They will be able to edit and add things to your list.
The fun doesn’t stop there. You can even add recipes to the app and click on a certain recipe to add the necessary ingredients to your shopping list. The app is a huge time saver and exceptionally functional. Groceries have never been easier!
For a more in-depth explanation, check out this AnyList video tutorial!
Meal prepping is a smart way to reduce your cooking frequency, food expenditure, and decision fatigue. I typically cook two to three times per week and cycle through a dozen recipes. I make three to four portions of each meal and package them in Tupperware.
If you want to make massive portions (in the 6+ servings range), put some of the Tupperware containers in the freezer to keep the meals fresh. Meals are technically considered “safe” for up to four days in the refrigerator. Using the freezer allows you to extend this time frame.
My favorite prepped meal is chicken breast with a side of two vegetables. I rarely get sick of chicken, and frequently switch up the veggies. Sometimes I sub-out my omnivorous meal with a bean and lentil curry. But hey, cook what you like! I’m not here to tell you what you should eat (although I strongly encourage a healthy diet). 🙂
Meal prepping has saved me hours in the kitchen, thousands of dollars, and lots of headaches!
Automate Your Exercise
Exercising is an important part of a healthy life, yet many of us “can’t find the time”. Whether you enjoy a 10-minute morning workout routine or a 2-hour gym session, you can use automation to minimize your missed days.
The best way to never skip out on home workouts is to build them into your routine. Every morning I complete a 10-minute workout, but this took time to automate.
When I first started, I set a reminder for the same time as my alarm. That way, I woke up to “MORNING WORKOUT” on my phone screen every morning. It only took a few weeks for this morning workout to become routine.
Now, I don’t even need the reminder. My morning workout is as mindless as brushing my teeth.
I understand that this strategy might not work for everyone, but do what works best for you! The important part is to build the home workout into your daily routine.
Everybody knows that getting to the gym is the hardest part. Once you’re there, it’s easy to not skip out on your workout!
Here are a few strategies that I use to minimize my missed days:
- Always keep gym clothes and equipment in my car – This eliminates the “I need to go home first” excuse.
- Build the gym into my daily routine – Like the home workout, building a gym session into my daily routine makes a missed day seem abnormal.
- Set goals and track my progress – Let’s face it, failing to meet a goal sucks. I like to use goal setting and progress tracking to encourage frequent and challenging workouts.
When it comes to paying bills, autopay is your best friend. This friendly feature will ensure that you never miss a payment. I have every one of my bills set to autopay.
However, if you’re a financial nerd like me, you like seeing every cash inflow and outflow from your account. I actually pay my bills manually using reminders on the first of each month.
Luckily, if I ever forget to manually my pay my bills for some reason, autopay has my back! I never need to worry about missing a payment.
Harness the power of automation and set your bills to autopay.
Automating your investments is the best way to build wealth while you sleep. Set it up once and let your investment platform do the rest. I personally use Vanguard for the bulk of my portfolio and find that their automatic investment service works great. If you’d like to set up a Vanguard account, check out my Vanguard 101 course.
I use Vanguard for all my retirement accounts and for 95% of my taxable investments. I put the remaining 5% into my M1 Finance account and invest in individual stocks and targeted ETFs. M1 Finance is an awesome, free platform for trading stocks and ETFs and also comes with an automatic investment feature. Check out my M1 Finance Setup Guide here!
If you develop a system (e.g. Automatic Investments) to build your wealth without ever touching the money, it’s hard to screw up. Just sit back, relax, and watch your wealth multiply.
Keeping track of your investments is important. Personal Capital is a FREE website that aggregates all of your financial information to help you track your net worth. I highly recommend using Personal Capital. Their website is easy to use, there is a mobile app, and it’s completely free.
Share your Automation Strategies!
The strategies mentioned in this article are some of the most powerful ways I use automation and organization. However, I’m sure I only scratched the surface. If you have any useful automation or organization strategies, please share them in the comments below!
I still have plenty of room to improve, so I’m always open to new suggestions to make my life a bit easier. As a community, we can eliminate time wasted on menial tasks and spend our time doing the things we love! Are you ready to automate and organize your life?
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