Less Stressed We are living in stressful times that require constant adaption. If you are finding it hard to remember basic to-dos, you are not alone.
Constant stress and anxiety take a toll on your brain and can lead to what is known as “brain fog,” which can then lead to inconveniences like running out of toilet paper and forgetting to pay your electric bill on time.
Automating as many administrative and household duties as is helpful can mean fewer headaches to deal with during your week. Here are some things you can automate to make your life a little easier:
1. Your coffee supply
The last thing anyone needs is to wake up and find they’re out of coffee because grabbing a new bag of beans slipped their mind at the grocery store.
Lots of coffee brands have automated subscription services so you can “set it and forget it” and let your coffee come to you at regular intervals, ensuring you never, ever run out. Check out companies like Korean American woman-owned Bean & Bean or these Black-owned coffee brands, most of which offer subscription plans.
2. Your umbrella
Anna Dearmon Kornick, a time management coach and host of the “It’s About Time” podcast, said her favorite automation is the weather forecaster that she set up through the site IFTTT.com.
“Every time rain or thunderstorms are forecasted in my area, IFTTT automatically adds an event to my calendar on that day,” she told HuffPost. “At a glance, I know whether I need to grab an umbrella before I head out the door. It’s so simple, but it can make a huge difference!”
3. Crucial toiletries
Avoid last-minute pharmacy runs by putting toilet paper, tampons and other regularly needed toiletry essentials on an automated subscription service. Just about any toiletry can be subscribed to at a major e-commerce retailer like Amazon, but there are also companies that offer plans for specific items.
For tampons and pads, there’s Lola. Athena Club has razor kits, shaving cream and body washes you can send to yourself on a subscription basis, in addition to liners, pads and tampons. For toilet paper roll subscriptions with plastic-free packaging, try Who Gives a Crap and Tushy.
4. Your savings
Alan Henry, service editor at Wired magazine and author of the upcoming book “Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized,” recommends automating different percentages of your paycheck to be deposited into different accounts.
With direct deposit, most of us just choose to have our entire paycheck put in our primary checking account, “but automating your finances help you get ahead of the process and actually pay yourself first,” he said.
Once you know what your budget is, keep a checking account that exists just to pay expenses like rent or a mortgage, groceries, and Netflix, Henry explained. Then split the remaining money to be direct-deposited into your savings account and/or retirement accounts. Henry even makes a separate account with its own card just for fun money purchases.
“It’s set-it-and-forget-it,” Henry said. “Unless your income ever changes significantly, you’ll be able to trust that your bills are paid, you’re saving money for an emergency, like medical bills or an accident, you’re also saving for retirement or your future, and you can swipe your spending card freely knowing all the money in that account is yours to play with however you like.”
5. Your bills
After you set up a direct deposit of a portion of your check to a savings account, set up auto-pay for regular charges like cable, rent and utilities. While this might seem like a recipe for disaster, most vendors will send an email letting you know what each month’s charge will be, so you have time to address anything that seems unusually high or incorrect.
“Deposit enough from your paycheck into [your expenses] account, and set those expenses to automatically pay your bills from that account, preferably on a timetable that works for you so you know when it’s all coming out,” he said.
6. Your to-do list
“I set recurring weekly and monthly administrative to-dos in my favorite productivity app,” which is Todoist, said productivity consultant Rashelle Isip.
“I do this for both business and personal items,” Isip explained. “This saves me time and energy, as I don’t have to repeatedly think about what must be done. I simply open the app and get to work.”
7. Your inbox
If you’re barraged by dozens of emails on a regular basis, set up filters for your inbox. For example, maybe you want every message from your boss or mom to get flagged red for immediate visibility.
You can make it so that certain emails are labeled in a color you select, or are marked as important or not, or are automatically sent to trash or spam. That way, checking your email takes just a few clicks instead of a long scroll that requires concentration.
In Gmail settings, you can choose to create new labels and corresponding filters, or simply create new filters to have your mail automatically sorted. Then you can choose what actions you want to take with these emails.
In Outlook, go to the Home button, click the Rules button and then select the Create rule option, through which you can assign tasks to emails under certain conditions.
Similarly, for Yahoo mail, you can click Settings and then More Settings, then select the Filters option. From there, you can add a new filter for your email folders.
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Automatic deliveries of medications can be a time saver. Many major pharmacy chains, including Walgreens and CVS, have options to set certain prescriptions to auto-refill with home delivery.
For people on multiple medications, PillPack does automatic refills and can helpfully organize your pills into a single-serve pack labeled with the times you need to take them.
9. Medication doses
Missing or taking an incorrect dose of medication has serious consequences. Automating your or a loved one’s medication can be a big help.
Automatic medication dispensers come with an array of features to prevent tampering and offer caregiver features, too. Hero, which comes with a smartphone app, alerts the phones of both users and caregivers if doses are missed, for example.
To see which dispenser might be right for you, check out an in-depth recommendation list compiled by a senior care product writer at The Senior List.
10. Pet food
If you are constantly distracted during the day, putting pet essentials like food, treats and toys on a consistent delivery can be a relief for your busy brain (and ensures your furry loved one will never go without).
Chewy, Petco, and PetSmart offer automatic shipment options for commercial pet foods and supplies. For dogs that need customized food, The Farmer’s Dog, Nom Nom, Ollie and PetPlate are some of the most well-known specialty food subscription services.
Cat Person is a subscription food service for cats with high-protein needs. People with cats who like freshly cooked wet food or freeze-dried raw food can check out Smalls. For cats with raw food needs, Bobcat Raw Food and Darwin’s Natural Pet Products have subscription options.
11. Pet toys and treats
If you have a pet that gets bored easily, a pet toy subscription service can help keep them entertained while you are busy. Subscriptions can be especially helpful for those whose chew-happy pets ensure toys never last very long.
BarkBox, for example, sends dog owners a monthly selection of themed toys and treats for furry companions to chew and chase after, while Meowbox sends curated monthly toys and treats to cat owners. And if you are an avid fan of cats, CatLadyBox sends feline-related shirts, jewelry, and home decor alongside cat toys in its subscription.
12. Commonly sent emails
If you find yourself writing the same email over and over again, having a go-to email template can be a big time-saver. Gmail and Outlook, for example, both have email template features where you can draft and save templates for different email scenarios, like “Following Up.”
13. Uninterrupted focus time
When we get interrupted while working, it can take an average of 23 minutes to get back on track, according to research from the University of California, Irvine. Deter these interruptions by using calendar assistants like Clockwise, which integrates with tools including Slack and Asana to minimize distractions and let colleagues know you are unavailable.
Clockwise’s Focus Time feature, for example, can find two-hour chunks of time in your weekly calendar for deep-focus work and prevent colleagues from booking meetings on a shared calendar during those hours.
Avoid easy spelling errors with browser extensions that proofread your writing for you. Grammarly for Windows or Mac will offer spelling suggestions across apps, documents and emails.
15. Your mail
Never wonder about what is coming in the mail and when by automating a daily heads-up through the U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery program.
Once you create a USPS.com account and sign up for the Informed Delivery service, the agency will send you an email each morning with a digital preview the mail it will deliver to you later in the day. It will also tell you what packages are coming so you can track and reschedule them.
When you know there’s only going to be junk mail, you can skip a stop at the mailbox and do literally anything else with your time.
16. Meeting notes
Instead of taking notes by hand for a meeting, you can automate this horrible chore with the note-taking tool Otter Assistant. With the permission of attendees, it can transcribe video meetings for Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.