Today I woke up to the alarm I set on my phone. My bedroom curtains opened automatically, triggered by the alarm. I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth. On my mirror, which has a 40" LCD hidden behind it, I saw my agenda and noticed that one of my coaching clients had booked a session for Monday.
I made myself some tea, packed my bag, and headed out to the airport. As I left, my door and security door locked themselves, my water heater turned off (valve and power), the thermostat adjusted its setpoints, and the lights turned off. I hit one button and my vacuum left its dock and started vacuuming.
In that half hour, a lot of things happened automatically.
I haven't tracked it, but I'm guessing that having my curtains open automatically makes me get out of bed faster. It's much easier to pop out of bed when the sun is streaming in than when room darkening curtains are drawn. Let's say that saves me five minutes.
I built a whole system for coaching that notifies clients when they should book their next session and syncs it with my calendar, both by showing my availability and by adding appointments to my schedule. Because I see it on my mirror (and phone, where it sets a reminder), I don't have to ever check my calendar manually. And I don't have to go back and forth finding available times. Maybe all together that saves 10 minutes, mostly of emailing. It's also much more convenient for clients, so it saves them time.
If I didn't have all the home automation stuff, I'd probably spend three minutes making sure everything was off and locked. And maybe I'd also be paranoid that I forgot to lock up, so it saves me some worry.
Vacuuming saves me a good twenty minutes or so. The robot takes an hour, but it's slower than if I did it on my own.
There are also a lot of other things that are happening in the background that can't really be nailed down to a specific time. CruiseSheet is constantly writing its own copy for different cruises and checking to make sure itineraries are valid. Scripts are checking to see if there are any flights I might want to take or free shows I might want to see as a Vegas local. My credit cards are paid automatically and money is invested automatically.
Without counting those fuzzier things, I saved thirty eight minutes of time in half an hour. It didn't feel like saving time, it just felt like normal life. I also lowered my stress level by not having to think about doing all these little things and by not having to worry about my home being unlocked or flooding (water sensors, plus closing the water heater valve help).
I also spent time and sometimes money setting these things up, of course. That makes this more like an investment than a free lunch.
I love one-time investments that pay off over the very long term. The reason I call my books Superhuman _______ is because you can often achieve results that look superhuman just by setting up lots of easy systems. You don't look like a superhuman when you set them up, but once they free up your time, money, focus, or other resources, you do. And you get to keep those benefits for a long time with little or no maintenance.
I used to think that everyone should learn to code to earn an income. It's still a good way to go if you're interested in that, but now I think the best reason to code is to automate. With a modest investment of effort you can save hours per day, lower your stress levels, and get better results. Sometimes it feels like cheating.
I don't really know how much time I save due to automation, but maybe I'd estimate 1-2 hours per day. Let's call it 90 minutes. Thats 550 hours per year, or a full thirteen forty-hour work weeks! These little things I've set up give me 25% more time than most people. It feels that way, too. In general I feel like I do whatever I want with my time and still produce a lot of output and get a lot of quality time in. I'm also the least stressed person anyone knows, and I'm sure automation plays a big part in that.
Make a list of things you do every day, then order that list by how many minutes it takes. Then search google one by one for automating each item. You might be surprised what's been automated. Once you have your list, pick one that seems to be a decent return on money or time. Then do another. It becomes addictive after a few months because you feel the impact of the saved time, and you can then use that saved time to automate new things. Just like compounding interest.
Photo is another shot from Valley of Fire outside Las Vegas
Dear Tynan, I love your posts but here my first feeling was that you are resembling a robot. That can be frightening even if efficient.
Do you have any worries about your house being hacked and someone messing with you? Seems like someone could really mess up your life if they got access to your system
I'd love to learn more about automating investing. Not the actual investments themselves per say, but the tools/techniques//scripts/platforms used.
Like others have said, if almost seems like you're living in the future, so I'm new to your post, have you shared how you automated so well? Because I've found that while trying to better automate, a lot of tools aren't compatible or take more time to learn or put into place than doing yourself.
It feels like your posts are getting better again. Definetly going to automate now too.
A follow up post like the "gear post" but for automation gadgets and computer programs would be awesome!
Did you ever consider making small scripts you use available to download for people who cant code? Or does someone know some resources to learn?
Wow you are living in the future compared to me. You could start a business offering home automation solutions for people with busy lives. I wouldn't automate paying my bills and credit cards though because I want to see that there are no errors or unusual charges.
>Scripts are checking to see if there are any flights I might want to take
I would love to know more about this, what are the variables you look for, what data sources do you use, etc.
I've always been obsessed with automation. When I had a house I had automatic robot lawnmowers to mow my lawns and a matrix of motion detectors to control my lights. These days I have a simpler life that doesn't necessitate such extreme solutions, but I still benefit from automation.
There's a saying among programmers: if you have to do it three times, automate it. That may be a bit extreme for non-programming tasks, but maybe the equivalent is: if you have to do it every week or more, automate it. Here are a few interesting automations that I have set up.
I invest mechanically according to filters I've set up. Before automating it, I had to log in every day, see if I had money available, see if there were investments available, and then invest. This only took a few minutes a day, but even three minutes a day is an hour and a half per month.
After a reader asked about why I don't use shower products on the cold showers post comments, I started thinking of other things people do or use that I find I don't need. Here's a short list, preceded by a disclaimer: I'm not a joyless robot, deranged workaholic, or dirty hippy, so don't start with the pattern matching of stereotypes and questioning of my humanity. I just like to experiment.
Dessert. I randomly decided to only eat one dessert (the French macarons at my wedding) in 2013, and it has been great. It's simpler this way: I never have to resist eating desserts, and I appreciate tasty non-dessert food more. Drawback: sometimes I have nightmares where I accidentally eat a cinnamon roll, or some baddies are chasing me and trying to shove donuts into my mouth.
Drinking things that aren't water. From an early age I never wanted to try soda or coffee, and this persisted to never trying alcohol, either. I eventually accidentally had a digestif on a romantic date with Chloe in Paris, but it was gross. I stopped drinking fruit juice because it's too sweet, milk because of experiments with cutting out dairy, and vegetable juice because it gives me gas. What else do people even drink? Tea, I guess--I drink that when Chloe makes it, but I honestly don't see much difference between tea and hot water. It's just easier to be content with water than to ever crave some other sort of beverage.
Shower products. I gave more details in this comment, but basically I found that after five weeks of not using shampoo, my grease production shut down and I no longer needed shampoo (just like the internet said would happen). I tested body wash on one half of my body for a while and so no difference, so stopped that. I cut out conditioner when I cut off my long hair, and I use a dry-shave electric razor, so I never used shaving cream. Showers are now quite straightforward.