The beauty of the digital age lies not merely in the vast informational access it provides and the real time connections it enables, but in the automation it makes possible. Technology can be programmed to act as your Personal Assistant (P.A.) and can send you just about everything from daily reminders and subscriptions to payments and inspirations.
The Power of Automation
It’s no secret, automation is powerful. The act of automating a process removes the risk of human choice and forgetfulness, ensuring that the action will actually get done.
David Bach addresses this topic very thoroughly in his bestselling book, The Automatic Millionaire. Through a series of example and diagrams, he demonstrates that setting up a simple automatic pay-yourself-first plan can compound to millions of dollars by the time you reach retirement. It works because there is no human interference and no room for excuses — the transfer is made each month automatically — and the money simply adds up.
If you apply this same principle to everything else that you should be doing, but often decide not to do (for lack of time or any other excuse) you will find yourself with the same end result — a richer standing and perspective.
Take industry trends as an example. No matter what industry you are in, it always pays to know what’s hot and happening. You need to be up to date to retain a competitive edge. We all know that, but how often do you actually take the time to Google news in your industry? If your day is anything like mine, time seems to escape me and things like searching for industry news end up on the bottom of my daily To Do list. Luckily I no longer have to remember, nor do I get to decide whether to make the time or not — my Digital P.A. sends me all the information I need to know. Then I just review it.
Digital Automation, Your New P. A.
To get started with digital automation, set a few minutes aside to make a list of everything that would save you time and be of benefit to you if it was done for you. Your list may look something like this:
- Mortgage Payments
- Savings Account Contributions
- Industry Alerts
- Relevant News
- Daily Inspirations
Once you have your list, tackle one item a day and program it to run automatically. Making the time just this once will mean you will never have to worry about doing this work again. Your Digital P.A. will continue to do it all for you, and you’ve already begun to automate your life!
Automate Your Banking
Let’s begin with automating Mortgage and Savings Account Contributions. You may wish to approach your lender and/or bank, or you can simply visit their online secure site. Each institution differs slightly, but most follow a standard format that involves similar steps to these from Wells Fargo:
Transfers and Savings
Step 1: Navigate to the transfer section and click on “Schedule an automatic transfer.”
Step 2: Choose the Account you would like to take the money from and the Account you would like to send the money to.
Step 3: Select the frequency of the automatic transfer.
Step 4: Complete the remainder of the form, including the Starting date, Ending date (preferably choose “Continue until you cancel” to enable your Digital P.A. to keep doing the work for you), the Amount you’d like to transfer and any description that may help you track the transfer. “My Digital P.A.’s making me save,” works well for the description!
Step 5: Confirm your automatic transfer request when prompted to do so.
Step 6: Sit back, relax and watch as your Digital P.A. manages your money for you.
Now that you’ve taken care of your monthly payments and savings, put your Digital P.A. to work on more exciting matters …
Automate Your Industry Knowledge
Your boss is no doubt reading the news and keeping your competitors in check. So should you be.
You don’t have time to look for the information, none of us do, but we’re running out of excuses now that Digital Automation can send all we need to read straight into our inbox.
Just this once, take a few minutes to set up the automation task — the rest will be history:
Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com/alerts
Step 2: Type in keywords relevant to your industry in the “Search query” box.
Step 3: Select the “Result type” you would like Google to provide you with.
Step 4: Choose “How often” you would like the updates.
Step 5: Decide if you would like to see “All results” or “Only the best results.”
Step 6: Type your email address into the “Deliver to” field.
Step 7: Click “CREATE ALERT.”
Step 8: Simply review the alerts as your Digital P.A. sends them into your inbox, and then show off your new-found knowledge!
Step 1: Look for Google blogs in your industry and find one or two that you feel are informative.
Step 2: Search for the “Subscribe” option (most good blogs will have one) and type your email address in the subscription box provided.
Step 3: Click “Subscribe.” It’s that easy!
Step 4: Scan through a blog or two when you Digital P.A. distributes them to you and capitalize on the latest industry ideas.
Automate Your Inspiration
Who doesn’t enjoy a dose of daily inspiration? At least my morning ritual of reading the “Quote of the Day” has proven a favorite among my colleagues and Twitter followers alike. I think we can all use morning motivation to help us start the day with a healthy mindset. Why not let you Digital P.A. send inspiration to you each morning?
Quote of the Day
Step 1: Download the Inspirational and Motivational Quotes – Daily Quote of the Day app by Steven Boynes on your smartphone or tablet.
Step 3: Go to “Settings”
Step 4: Set the “Notify” bar to “Every day,” change the “Custom Photo” to something inspiring from your image gallery (or let the App provide you with an automatic background each day) and lastly, select the time of day you would like the quote to appear on your device (go with bright and early!)
Step 5: Ensure your device settings allows this App to push you notifications.
Step 6: Feel enlightened each morning when your Digital P.A. sends you uplifting messages.
Best Practice Tips
Step 1: Visit the Harvard Business Review page at http://hbr.org/ and select “BLOGS” on the navigation bar.
Step 2: Click on “Get daily posts in your inbox.”
Step 3: You will be directed to the “HBR Email Newsletter Preference Center” to enter your email address, name, job title, industry and company size. Fill it all in.
Step 4: Choose which “Daily Newsletters” you would like to receive by clicking the box next to the newsletter title.
Step 5: Simply click “Submit.”
Step 6: Enjoy the new workplace wisdom that your Digital P.A. sends to you.
And just like that your bank savings will accumulate, your mortgage will decline, you will have all the latest news and industry knowledge, and you’ll be more inspired than ever before! That’s when it’s time to take a moment to appreciate technology and its ability to keep you informed, connected and of course, to act as your very own Personal Assistant. You can easily automate your life, you just have to know how to do it.