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Strategic Laziness – Automation in Covid-19.

Not another COVID blog! Well, that is definitely not the subject of this post, but it’s pretty hard to ignore the effects it has had on everyone’s lives.

So at some point in March, all of a sudden our homes got transformed into make-shift offices and our well-rehearsed commuting routine was gone.

A few months in, we’ve read countless studies of the impact of not being in an office, too much screen time, creativity blockers, effects on mental health,  etc.  And while we’re all thinking about festival season, Zoomfest seems to be the only one we’ll be attending this year.

What I really want to talk about is the one thing we got in abundance with the working from home situation – autonomy – freedom to organize our working lives without the framework of a commute+office, freedom to choose our working hours, freedom to choose when to take a break, etc. This may all seem great, and while some enjoy it fully, some found themselves struggling with the lack of structure. The underlining idea being that with autonomy and lack of structure comes increased decision making, and this alone can overwhelm us.

Making an increased number of decisions every day can lead to decision fatigue.

There have been a lot of studies – almost legends circulating about tech leaders wearing the same clothes every day  (Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg being the most prominent) – strategies to avoid decision fatigue. Now, not only are you stuck at home having to decide every aspect of your working life ( including when to take a break or what to do in that break), you’re probably doing some repetitive tasks due to the requirements of your job. We all have them – those tasks where you turn on a good podcast and just go through it because you have to. You have done it a number of times before, you know it inside-out, you just go through the motions. And while a few iterations in it made you feel like an expert, this task now just makes you feel like a keyboard monkey – time to act: Automate it! Be lazy!

Automation: Choose to outsource your repetitive tasks to robots.

Due to the nature of our jobs – digital media is pretty tech savvy (some roles more than the others) –  we’ve all heard of automation and are probably daily users.

If you’re too lazy to do something repeatedly, then automation is for you.

How to approach automation?

Solve simple tasks:

Contactless technologies, self service tills, subscription services, they all aim to automate one aspect or another of our lives. Most of the times they don’t solve complex problems, they solve repetitive, thankless tasks by making our lives easier. This is the angle you should look at when aiming to put some automation in your life.  That report that you’re compiling every week looking at the same data sources – try to automate it.

Start small:

You don’t need to tackle the biggest problem head on – start small and build on the skills you acquire. Getting 10% more proficient at Excel will go a long way. Combine this with ad-ons such as Supermetrics and you’re turning into a spreadsheet/reporting whizz. You gained back hours of your life!

Dare to code:

Gone are the days when coders looked like greasy, coffee drinking, spectacled nerds. With so many resources online the barrier to entry has been considerably lowered and high level languages have made it much simpler to learn the art of code. No code bootcamp will make you a javascript expert in two weeks, but resources such as Coursera are invaluable. With courses from top universities you are guaranteed to find something you can get immersed into and definitely can apply in your day to day.

Ok, so now you’ve run out of things to automate what do you do with your time? Iterate! Look at every automated task and try to elevate it, build on your automation – add features, go deeper into the analysis, add insight to your automated reports, as that’s where the human mind truly shines.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Bill Gates:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it”.

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