We live in a world where we’re surrounded by technology. Some technology is entertaining, but useless. Other technology is useful, but boring. Then there’s a sweet spot of technology that’s both entertaining and useful. Automation generally falls into this category.
On a grand scale, there are fears about the role of automation in society. Pew Research indicates that Americans are more likely to express worry (72 percent) than enthusiasm (33 percent) about a future in which robots and computers perform many of the tasks that humans currently do manually. But on a narrower plane, there’s plenty of room for optimism.
It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that automation removes control, which opens up the opportunity for increased risk in various areas of life. But when you really drill down and look at all of the ways automation is positively impacting our personal lives – from time- and cost-savings to convenience and flexibility – it becomes apparent that automated technology is more friend than foe.
While you probably automate a number of tasks in your daily life already, there are dozens of other places where you could be streamlining your actions and responsibilities. Let’s highlight some of these specific areas:
There are certain areas in life where you actually get in the way and trip yourself up. One such area is personal finance. Irrational human behavior often breeds poor financial habits that end up producing disastrous effects. It doesn’t have to be like this, though.
As NerdWallet explains, “Human error can be almost eliminated if you set up a system where all the main pieces — taking your income, paying your various expenses and setting aside money for savings — are done for you automatically.”
The first step is to automate your income. Most employers give you the ability to automatically deduction portions of your paycheck into multiple accounts. By setting up three different savings accounts – one for fixed expenses, another for variable expenses, and a third for saving – you’ll find it much easier to stay on track.
You can also use an app like Acorn, Betterment, or Robinhood, which help you invest small amounts of money.
- Home Security
Most Americans do a really poor job of securing their homes. It’s not that they don’t care. Rather, it’s that they don’t put forth the effort it takes to make sure everything is secure before leaving for work/going to bed/etc.
Thanks to smart home technology and the utility of the IFTTT app, this is no longer an excuse. You can automate numerous security features – including lighting, door locks, and alarm systems – with the single click of a button. In fact, you can even set it up to where these things are activated when your phone leaves a specific geographical area (such as your neighborhood).
- Email Management
The average person wastes hours of personal and work time managing email throughout the week. Thankfully, much of these cumbersome tasks can be automated.
You know about auto reply features, which are easy to set up and run when you’re away, but are you familiar with canned responses? If you’re the sort of person who responds to a lot of the same emails on a daily basis, setting up some canned responses in your Gmail account can help you cut down on the time you spend in this area.
There are also ways to re-route email.
“Not only can you categorize your incoming mail, but you can program Gmail to intercept certain messages and either filter them in your inbox or forward them elsewhere,” tech blogger Lindsay Rothfeld explains. “There are some very obvious benefits to having this ability — like being able to separate ‘work’ and ‘play,’ or taking care of your spam or junk mail in one fell swoop.”
- Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is usually viewed as a necessary evil. It has to get done, yet you don’t want to waste time actually going to the store, putting items in your cart, and waiting in line at the cash register. Once again, automation comes to the rescue – this time in the form of Amazon.
Personal finance blogger Christina Tynan-Wood likes to use her Amazon Echo and the Amazon Prime Pantry service to automate almost everything grocery related. She speaks her order, Alexa then hunts through past Amazon Prime orders to find out what has been purchased before, adds that item to the list, and confirms.
“I say, ‘Yes,’ and she places the order; the paper towels show up in a couple of days,” Tynan-Wood writes. “If, for some reason, she can’t order it for me (it happens), I ask her to put it on my shopping list. That list shows up on my phone and at Amazon.com the next time I log in.”
The best part about Amazon Prime Pantry is that the prices are essentially the same as you’d find at a big box retailer. There is a small shipping fee, but that’s it.
The hesitancy to fully embrace automation is justifiable. Nobody wants to feel as if they’re losing control or opening themselves up to the possibility of being monitored. Having said that, there’s also a need to recognize the shift that’s occurring in society and understand the value and need for automation.
As you weigh the pros and cons in your own personal life, think about some of the key tasks and activities you could be streamlining on a daily basis. You’ll most likely come to the conclusion that automation (within reason) is highly beneficial.