If you are considering the digital nomad lifestyle, you have to simplify your life. Here are five easy ways to start.
Wanting to simplify your lifestyle to have more freedom of time? Want to take back control of your time? Where do you begin? Is this even possible? Even if you don’t want to chuck the cube life just yet, here are five ways to automate your life now.
Start where you are
First, you have to understand a lot of time we spend is just being busy for the sake of being busy. We don’t want to have our boss see us idle, so we invent things to do on the clock. I once had a corporate job genuinely requiring 2 hours a day of actual work. The result: I spent 6 hours a day “looking busy.” I have a friend in a similar situation and she invents meetings throughout the day just to fill the time. This is absolutely absurd. People in these situations eventually leave, and they don’t leave because they are happy. They find new opportunities to challenge them or they become “redundant” and are let go.
Now look around where you work, it’s not hard to spot people like this.
But what do you do?
The goal here is to find better ways to use your time to get the results you want to achieve, not just spin the hamster wheel. When you stop being busy just to be busy, you can focus on what is genuinely important to you and where you want to take your life. If you are considering working remotely, or on your terms, this is imperative.
Get a plan to make it better
Next, decide where you want to be in 5 years. Now this may sound very daunting, but really it’s the simplest step. Most people float through life not even considering next week, must less, next year. Take 30 minutes to describe what you want your life to look like in 5 years and really right it down. Describe where you will live, the car you drive (if that is something you want), the people you hope to be around and how much you want to make. Do it. Do it now. I mean it, you have to do this now. See our article This is where it begins.
Wait, I thought you said you had five ways to automate your life now? Yes I did, but you have to have a reason to change. Dream building will give you a reason to want to change.
Five actionable steps you need to start now
1. Prune Your email
Start unsubscribing from all those things you were interested in months and years ago. You are probably sending them to trash without reading them now anyway. This is a first day activity. This will take a little time as you don’t get everything every day. There was a point I was getting north of 150-200 emails a day of absolute junk. Now it’s about 10-30, usually 10-15. It took about a month of unsubscribing (and reporting spam because of bad actors) to make my email more manageable of relevant content I need and want.
Only check email first thing in the morning, respond quickly and check it at the end of the day. Things you have been trained to think are emergencies are rarely true emergencies. Just by reducing the amount of email will make your life easier. I am certain it will free up at least an hour or two a day for most.
2. Set up autoresponders.
An autoresponder is an automated response when some sends you a message or email. This is one of the least used featured to simplify your life. For example, I personally use Sideline to have a second line on my mobile phone for business. Sideline allows me to send an automated response to people who call me when I am in a meeting. That autoresponder thanks them for calling and sends a link to our frequently asked questions page. While we are on that topic, create a frequently asked questions page with the 10 most asked questions you answer on a repetitive basis.
3. Set up direct deposit and bill pay.
Most employers can set you with direct deposit into your checking or savings account. Why get a check and drive it to the bank when you don’t have to? Some will even allow you to “split” your deposit where a fixed number or percentage can go into savings and the balance into checking. This will save you another step. You will know when your deposits are coming in. Next time your bill payments accordingly. Almost all companies allow you make payments online or have some provision for automated payments. No more late fees, just set up this automation and forget about it.
4. Put shopping on autopilot.
It’s a fact we spend a lot of time shopping. There are things we buy on a consistent basis, like coffee, vitamins toilet paper, diapers and paper towels. Instead of waiting until things run out and dashing out to the local grocery or big-box store, set it to show up “automagically.” Services like Amazon (click here to go to Amazon.com) allow you to subscribe to products and have them delivered on a schedule. While I don’t suggest items subject to spoilage, staple items or items purchased on somewhat of a schedule are prime candidates to free up time. This could also apply to prescriptions and many pharmacies offer delivery now. There was a time when I went to the grocery store every day. This single strategy saved me several hours a week.
5. Outsource yourself.
Now this sounds counterintuitive, but experience has shown me this is vital. For example, cutting the grass. I hate cutting the grass, it is a complete waste of time to me, but it is still necessary. I hired someone to do this for me. Result: I have a better looking lawn and I don’t have to do it. If I want to travel, it still gets done. I other words, I got out of the way and let it happen. If you want to make $25 an hour, then don’t do minimum wage work. Focus on the things more profitable and time saving.
Look for inexpensive ways to outsource yourself. Some do this with housekeeping and errands. This can be greeting card services who sign and mail cards on your list’s schedule, and I bet you will save money over grocery store cards. Look and you will find 5 ways to automate your life just in this step. Over the next week, keep a list of all the tasks you perform. What do you hate doing? What can you delegate? Then outsource or find ways to automate your life now. See our article What is your time worth?
Lastly, you should have at least 3 solid action plans out of this list you can put together right away. Hopefully, you will have more. By taking control and ownership of how you spend your time, you will put yourself back in the driver’s seat instead of your boss. If you don’t like something you are doing, automate or outsource it. This article only covers five ways to automate your life, but if you genuinely value your time, you will find more.
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Hi! I’m Bill Wheeler
Writer and remote workstyle evangelist, I have worked remotely for over 17 years now. I can honestly say it is absolutely possible to work anywhere, anytime, I’ve done it from cruise ships, Caribbean islands, and finer European hotels. It is my passion and mission to help others reclaim their time and lifestyle by teaching others how to work remotely.