Automate Your Busywork
Automate Your Busywork

Automate Your Busywork

To truly conquer your busywork, you'll need to put in time and effort to determine precisely what needs to be automated. (Location 460)

Take 15 minutes to describe or sketch out your vision of work that matters to you and your career. What do you enjoy doing the most? What would you like to save your brain to do more of? What delivers the most impact? Include as many details as possible. Don't worry about a perfect breakdown at this stage; just get down as much as you can. (Location 480)

The reasons we avoid a task, in any given moment, are extremely personal—and can be highly confounding. (Location 507)

The more systems we establish, the less we can procrastinate. Automated expense submissions, for example, don't wait until they're in the mood to sort and classify receipts. (Location 511)

Success doesn't require extraordinary motivation. If you think something is boring or unpleasant, you need to take your feelings out of the equation and decide in advance exactly how and when it will get done. In other words, you need to automate it. (Location 515)

Complete your day's hunt before turning to the lesser items. (Location 567)

As for those lesser tasks, give your to‐do list a good look. Do they all need to be done manually? Could some be automated? (Location 571)

I developed the automation flywheel after I realized that automation is never fully “done”—it's ever‐evolving. I know that might sound discouraging, but stick with me here. (Location 585)

The flywheel starts turning when you realize you've fallen into a pit of busywork and you're ready to climb out, and it proceeds in three stages: divide and conquer, design and implement, and refine and iterate. (Location 595)

DIVIDE: The process begins with exploring the source of your busywork: what it looks like, why it's happening, and who's involved (or who isn't involved but should be), plus key signs and symptoms. The better you understand how your time is being siphoned, the more precisely you can plan to recover it. Note, while you may be tempted to skip or gloss over this step, I urge you to harness your curiosity and dig in. With a little effort you'll start to see patterns that apply to many of your most frustrating and time‐draining activities. (Location 598)

CONQUER: Workflows and processes transform single instruments into a harmonious and synchronized orchestra. They underpin all the automations you'll implement while freeing up the bandwidth you need to pursue your meaningful work. (Location 603)

DESIGN: Like sketching a product prototype, this is where you'll literally draw or map out each step of your automation. Visualizing every stage ensures you don't miss anything. It also reveals how the steps connect, while highlighting action points that may require decisions, new data, input from customers or colleagues, and other key factors. I'll also share my design techniques as well as how the team at Jotform plans their automations. (Location 605)

IMPLEMENT: Here's where you'll build the actual automation and connect your data. I'll suggest some popular tools for common automation tasks, but—thanks to the blistering pace of technological change—you'll need to do your own research. That's the only way to determine what software or systems suit your particular needs and what's best for the job. The good news? (Location 609)

The divide‐and‐conquer stage of the automation flywheel can help you figure out how and why you're overwhelmed with busywork. (Location 658)

The most potent drains are often hiding in plain sight. These are the repetitive, manual tasks we tacitly accept as part of our workday when, in fact, they could be automated right off your to‐do list. (Location 661)

As my blood pressure rose higher and higher I had an epiphany: these weren't just emails, they were workflows. If I wanted to get my work under control, I had to understand and manage my workflows. (Location 740)

Workflows are a series of interconnected steps that produce a result. Consider the steps you take to brush your teeth: grab your toothbrush, apply toothpaste, add water, brush, rinse, repeat. Some workflows, like teeth brushing, are linear, meaning they always follow the same series of steps, in the same order. (We'll look at other types of workflows later on.) The steps are connected—and rely on each other. We can't apply toothpaste if we've run out. Or we can't use the sink if it's clogged. These are the sorts of interconnections that can trip up our workflows. (Location 743)

All but the simplest emails aren't to‐do list items; they're workflows. (Location 754)

This is the essence of a workflow: mapping out the full process in advance. (Location 798)

In a marketing workflow, missing or mishandling the step where a customer confirms a newsletter subscription would be problematic. (Location 804)

Once you've adjusted to the metaphorical dark and are better at spotting the workflows hiding in your busywork, you're ready to embrace an automation‐first mindset. (Location 962)

What can I automate? What should I spend my time on? What shouldn't I spend my time on? (Location 964)

Note that the most important tasks to identify are the ones in that last question—what shouldn't I spend my time on. (Location 966)

The modern Gantt chart plots a list of deliverables on the y, or vertical axis, against time on the x, or horizontal axis. (Location 1163)

Many of the smartest, most successful, most innovative people and organizations struggle with processes like content creation, which can feel tangential to their core function. (Location 1393)