Coach Tip Tuesday: Automation isn't just for robots
Photo Description: A small-scale toy replica of WALL-E from the popular Disney film.
Wow!! It’s already time for Coach Tip Tuesday!!
If I were to say the word “automation,” what ideas or imagery would come to mind?? For almost all of you, I bet an image of a robot (perhaps even a cute, familiar robot such as WALL-E or R2-D2) would come to mind. And you’d be right to associate that word with robotics; we often think of the highly automatic system that machines or robots can give us when they are involved in a process.
The origin of this idea - to use automatic equipment to facilitate a process on a large scale - is rooted in the objective of reducing workload for actual human beings. Sometimes throughout our history, this has been vilified as a way to eliminate the need for human employees. But in so many other ways, automation has actually freed up humans to do the things that machines simply cannot do, such as think creatively or imagine new ideas. Simply put, automation actually can pave the way for truly positive outcomes.
This can be true even within our own lives and the processes that we implement in our lives on a daily basis. We can set some things on automation so that we’re freed up to do things that are more engaging, meaningful, and fun for us.
All of that leads me to this week’s tip: Take a look at your daily life and mindfully choose some things to go on “automation.” Eliminate some choice points so you have more “choice bandwidth” for the things you truly want to be investing time into choosing.
You’ve heard me talk before about how the average person will make approximately 35,000 different decisions by the end of a normal day. In addition to those 35,000 decisions, humans will engage in at least 4,000 distinct thoughts over the course of a 16-hour day. That, my friends, is A LOT of thoughts and decisions. Making decisions compromises your ability to make later decisions. If we are not careful, we can literally become fatigued simply from making too many choices and having too many thoughts.
When we reach that level of fatigue, we are more likely to disengage, not partake in things that we might otherwise want to, and feel burnt out. As such, it’s important to make sure that the decisions and thoughts that we are partaking in are the ones we really want to be partaking in. In other words, we want to try to rule our brains; we don’t want our brains to rule us.
Eliminating choice points and putting some things on automation is a useful way to help with this problem. Some examples of things that can more easily be put on automation are:
Foods for certain meals (Breakfast and lunch are common ones)
How you hydrate or fuel a workout
What time of day you will work out
What times of day you will check e-mails/work
Some of these things require some pre-planning in the sense that you might need to do some trial and error to find what works for you, but once you DO find what works for you in a particular arena, you can stick with that and not deviate. In other words, it goes on automation. Knowing exactly what you’ll be doing in a particular arena of your life eliminates the need to go through a daily choice process for that arena, which means that you have more mental bandwidth for other things that can come up over the course of a day.
President Barack Obama famously only wore gray or blue suits while he was President. He never had to think about what he was wearing, which freed up his brain for the power to make effective decisions in other aspects of his very important job. Adopting a “daily uniform” frees up substantial decision-making time.
Putting some meals on automation also paves the way for more brain power and effective decision-making later in the day; I personally almost always eat the same foods for breakfast and lunch. I get variety at dinner, but I never have to spend large amounts of time and energy deciding what I’m eating for those two meals, so my choice bandwidth remains available.
The reality (as many people have discovered in 2020) is that the human brain is wired to function well when it has routines in place, and the brain flounders a bit when routines go by the wayside. Automation is a way to inject some sustainable routines into one’s life. By applying this principle of automation to daily tasks, people can have increased focus, energy, and productivity.
So, what things can YOU put on automation in your own life??
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Paratriathlon Certified Coach, IRONMAN U Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success. She can be reached at laura@teamMPI.com.