People often ask me why I go through the effort of setting up a virtual assistant like Alexa, and all the routines, groupings, and shortcuts that go with it. The answer is simple: so I can devote more of my focus to the things that matter most.
As human beings, we have a very finite energy supply and amount of time on this planet. Therefore, any moment you aren't progressing is irreplaceable. The opportunity to advance never returns, so you might as well have been moving backwards rather than standing still. While the world isn't static and doesn't offer the privilege of hitting pause on everything, breaks can certainly factor into a healthy lifestyle and are often a great way to recharge. It's just important to recognize their pros and cons.
Automation is a tool that can be used to factor out some tasks which neither move you forward or recharge your batteries, such as going around your home turning on various lights. Instead, you could set a location tracker that turns on a set group of lights when you arrive home, and then turns them off again when you leave the area. In this way, you've spent slightly more time now in order to free yourself up in the future.
This idea of working now for increased freedom down the line can be applied beyond smart home devices and oftentimes sets you up for success while preparing you for unexpected challenges. Each action, while small in the moment, can contribute to decision fatigue. The time you save in the long run by investing more up front vastly outweighs the initial cost.
One example of this is found in how people pay for their smartphones. Many carriers offer plans to split the cost of the device over a two year period, thus spreading out the expensive load. While this may seem like a good idea at first, it can actually drag you down quite a lot. Imagine that you break your phone one year in. Now you still have to pay for something that has zero utility to you. Structured payments such as these can add pressure to an area of life that is already stressful, as it is impossible to know where you will be financially a year from now. Using the above philosophy, a good rule for finances is to only buy something you have the money for right now. This ensures that you recognize the true cost in what you are purchasing and has the added benefit of keeping your future situation free from previous burdens.
Life is always changing, and it is impossible to get rid of the future burden of some tasks and some tasks which one person finds wasteful might bring another joy. Nonetheless, imagine what the future holds if you worked towards completing obligations rather than doing just enough to maintain them in this current moment, since as mentioned before, maintaining a current state is mostly an illusion. You could have a place to live that is paid off, passive income like an ebook, or some investment portfolio for future growth. In a situation like this you could be truly free to pursue whatever strikes your interest rather than working to pay off past purchases or cover living conditions beyond your means. Fight your battles as they come, a day at at time, rather than running until they corner you.
So why do I automate? I do it to try and build a better future, free from burden, in which I can focus my efforts on projects which could have a real impact. Whatever your reasons, automation can be a useful tool in any area of life you wish to apply it.
Photo is of El nuevo amanecer (The New Awakening) at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The work was made by the Wixáritari (Huichol) of western Mexico, and directed by Santos Motoaopohua de la Torre de Santiago. The Wixáritari were largely isolated throughout history up to the modern day, such that they have retained their own culture. This mural is one of only three that they created in part to show what indigenous cultures are capable of when left alone. Chaquira beads in Campeche wax on plywood. The beads were all placed by hand.