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What can an assembly line teach us about work/life balance?

Okay... so we are getting close to wrapping up our series on creating your "D.D.A.E. Equation."

That's figuring out what to Do, Delegate, Automate and/or Eliminate to improve your work/life balance.  

Today... we're talking about "Automation."

It's funny, because whenever I hear that word, I am immediately taken back to my childhood.  

That's right.  I grew up In Newton.  And if you grew up in Newton in the 70s and 80s, then you wound up going on numerous tours of Maytag's manufacturing plants.  

I remember my first tour.  I was blown away by the systems.  
Assembly-Line
There was a quite hum of activity.  Everyone seemed to know their place.  Everything was in order.  If there was a bolt, then there was someone to put a nut on it and send it on it's way. There was no chaos.  There were no distractions.  Everything was automated... controlled... predictable.

I have to admit that when it comes to work/life balance, it's tempting to want this kind of order.  Everything in its place. Every need met.  No surprises.   

But we know that life happens... right?  And life can be messy and unpredictable.

So, when it comes to applying the concept of "Automation" to work/life balance, we can't always shoot for assembly-line precision...  BUT we can use automation to help us create time and to simplify our lives.

Here are some sample areas...

Finances:

An example of "Automation" that a number of you have already taken advantage of is automating your bill paying.  If you haven't, check out zen habit's post on making your finances automagical!  

Blogging:

Since many of you blog, this is another potential "target zone" for automation.  You know... ways to streamline the process of finding content and potential links.  For example, Drew McLellan pointed me to zemanta.  It's been a huge help because it works with most blog platforms and automatically finds pictures and links to support your content.  Plus, it does it while you type!  It's cut the time it takes for me to post dramatically.  

Mike Sansone has also helped me on the front with his teaching about RSS feeds, but he also pointed me to an online tool to help me find videos for my posts.  It's called wibe7.com.  It's a simple but powerful tool!

Life:

With technology surpassing the speed of life, we obviously have some options our parents didn't have.

Here are some fun examples to check out.

I have a entrepreneur friend who's entire family uses google calendars to help to organize and automate their family's life.  They have their own individual calendars, but then they also have a shared calendar.  All family events go on that shared calendar (i.e. school programs, soccer games, family reunions, church activities), and everyone must check that calendar before making commitments.  They admit that they aren't at 100 percent, but they have eliminated a majority of the scheduling surprises that used to bury them.

Need a personal concierge?  Check out Tech Scoop's post on HeyCosmo, which is a new on-line and mobile tool that can help you with everything from finding dinner reservations to calling friends to organize where everyone wants to meet for dinner after work.

How about shopping for groceries from your home?  If you have an iPhone,  there's an app for that.  But if you don't, that's okay too.  You can just use services like the one being offered by Hy-Vee.  Tell them what you want on-line, and they'll do the shopping for you.  You can either pick it up or have it delivered. Of course, there's a fee for the extra service, but what would it be worth to you to not have to hit the grocery store after a long day? 

Okay, and I did it subtly, but the perceptive mac lovers already picked up on the mention of the beloved iPhone.  You knew it had to be coming.  Yes, that's right.  Mac has made great leaps forward in automating many of life's basic (and not so basic tasks) with the iPhone.  Just check out iPhone your life to see the unlimited options on this front.


Okay, these are just a few areas where you can automate your life.

What have you tried?

What's worked?

What's simplified your life?  What's seemed to complicate it?

Click on comments and join in the conversation!

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