How to Streamline and Automate Your Life
With so many tools and resources to enable automating things in your life, we don’t need to think about or do as much as we do.
We all do so much now, and have so many decisions to make and things to remember.
Make life a little easier by automating what you can, creating systems and easing your load.
As a mother of 4 kids, I know I cannot do it all. Trying to do it all on my own will burn me out and make life miserable for the whole family.
I’ve been a single mother before and I don’t mean you can’t do things without a partner, because you can.
I mean streamline things, get a community and make life easier.
Read through this list, implement anything that stands out to you and see the difference.
Note: As someone with ADHD, I understand many things that work for neurotypical people don’t work for neurodivergent people. These things help me because it’s less I have to think about/do.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services I personally use.
1. Apply the 80/20 Rule
What is the 80/20 rule?
Also known as the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.
Or 80% of the outcomes are a result of 20% of the effort.
In business, using that rule helps you identify the best use of your time and most profitable activities/items etc.
It can be applied to many things such as your housework, planning and things you do each day.
What tasks give the biggest results?
In the evening, we do a quick cleanup of the house.
It takes around 20 to 30 minutes but results in the entire lounge, kitchen and dining area being clean.
This enables us all to relax in the evening, wake to a clean house and makes everything else easier.
Often, other areas get a quick clean or tidy as well and it is done while one of us baths the toddlers or if the toddlers sleep early, I do it just after they fall asleep.
Finances can be an easy one to automate and streamline.
Set up direct debits to pay bills but make sure you check they are being done properly.
Compare your bills at least annually to ensure you are still on the right plan for your needs as well.
With banking, have a transfer arranged to automatically add to your savings and investments.
Some banks offer a round-up option where every time you spend, it’s rounded up to the nearest dollar (or more if you choose) and transferred to your savings account.
You can arrange for your workplace to put extra into your retirement fund and similar.
Speak to your payroll or HR to find out the benefits your workplace offers and how you can maximise them.
Then set up systems to make it happen.
Whatever you do with your finances, be sure to make time during the year to check on all of it. It can be easy to set and forget but that can lead to disaster if you aren’t careful.
Banks I Use
The two main banks I use to easily round up, get high interest and manage my money are ING and Up.
ING offers $100 when you open a new everyday account and follow the steps before October 31, 2023. Check it out here.
Up offers $8 instantly when you sign up. I’ve used both these banks in Australia and overseas as they have better rates and customer service in my experience.
Make time to set all appointments you can at once.
For example, bi-annual dental check-ups for the whole family, monthly salon appointments and similar.
Write a list of all the things you regularly have to schedule, then schedule them in at once.
Instead of constantly having to remember to do them or make appointments when you think of it, they are sorted and in the calendar.
You might have to change them occasionally but overall, most people find it much easier to batch appointments this way and get it sorted.
4. Have a Uniform and Personal Style
Once you know what suits you and have a wardrobe to match, decide your clothes ahead of time.
Every Sunday, I make sure my clothes are ironed, hung and ready to go. I check the weather to plan the outfits and then hand them in my wardrobe accordingly.
This reduces the number of decisions I have to make and the length of time it takes to get ready.
You’ll be surprised how much time and energy you are spending every morning getting this sorted.
Decide on a ‘uniform’ for yourself and make it easier.
My Personal Style and How I Got It
I had a session with a personal stylist when my teens were little.
Focusing on colour, shape, style and classic instead of trendy, it was easy to find a style that flatters my body.
While my weight has gone up and down over the years, my preferred style has consistently flattered my shape.
Prior to that and a few other times in my life, I have let friends give suggestions, tried on their clothes etc.
None of that ever worked out well and we all agreed the way I dress is best for me.
My personal style is typically more fitted e.g. pencil dresses and skirts.
I have a few brands I love but it is more about the shape and style of the clothes (plus their quality).
Recently, I tried something a little different and definitely felt fatter in it so I won’t be going down that path again.
Having a style you feel confident in improves your life so much.
It also prevents you from wasting money on clothes you will never wear.
5. Reduce Meetings
When was the last time you went to a meeting that was actually useful?
I am willing to bet the majority of meetings you have to go to are time wasters, boring and unproductive.
Most I see or hear of are unnecessary in almost every situation.
Much of what happens in a meeting could have been conveyed in an email.
If you have to have meetings, confirm via email what it is about, ask for an agenda and see if you really must attend.
Reduce the amount of meetings you have as much as possible.
Most people I speak with feel meetings suck the life out of everything.
While they might be unavoidable in your workplace or elsewhere, aim to reduce them as much as possible.
6. Batch Tasks
Time blocking and batching tasks are great in the sense that your brain remains more focused when you are swapping between tasks.
This is super easy for neurotypical people, but harder for those with ADHD/Autism etc.
For me, it saves significant time and energy but actually scheduling those time blocks can be more difficult.
Those with ADHD understand hyperfocus and how difficult it can be to get motivated outside of that.
To combat the ebb and flow of motivation, I have a list of things I need to do for different situations such as work/business, cleaning, life admin and so on.
When I am not motivated, I commit to doing at least 1 task on one of those lists.
Usually, once I have started one, I can flow onto the next and so on then at some point, I’ll hit a moment of hyperfocus.
Utilising my hyperfocus moments when they happen and making the most of the unmotivated moments through batching and time blocking makes life easier.
7. Create Routines
Routines are essential for me to make life easier and get more done.
Where possible, I have implemented routines without taking all the joy from life.
For example, having a set workout or series of workouts makes exercising easier.
Allocating a day to each member of the house for chores means I don’t need to think about chores most of the time and it is a routine for that family member on their day.
Setting up cleaning routines for each area of the house means when it has to be done, the routine makes it easier and ensures it all gets done.
I am impulsive and spontaneous a lot of the time so having routines in some areas of my life helps me stay on track as much as possible.
8. Outsource e.g. Meal Kits and Plans
Rotating meal kits means we know what we are having each week for main meals and I don’t have to organise it.
My teens help pick the meals, they arrive on a Monday and we cook them in the order they need to be eaten based on the ingredients.
For example, HelloFresh has salmon so that is the first meal we have in the week.
Chicken next and any meals based around salads are eaten first.
By rotating them, we always get a discount and there is a wider variety to enjoy.
Look at all areas of your life you struggle with and want to streamline.
Many have services such as the meal kits that can do a lot of the planning and preparation for you.
Whether it is meal planning and delivery or washing and ironing, think about the things you want done for you and look into those services.
Things I Outsource
Meal kits is an easy one and with the discounts, we are not spending more than we would on groceries anyway.
Cleaning is alternated between family members and at times I have paid for a cleaner.
Most of my clothes need ironing and this is something I am about to outsource.
Currently, I iron all my clothes on Sunday evening, ready for the week. What I’d prefer is for someone to take my clothes, iron them and return them.
I saw a service for that this week and am booking it soon.
Childcare during the week is something I need as well with 2 toddlers so I have time to work. Enrolling my kids was difficult because there were no spaces but also because I felt guilty.
They love it though and are thriving. The activities, other kids and the variety of food they eat there are all fantastic.
9. Something In, Something Out Rule
If you bring something into the home, take something out. Or better yet, if you know you are going to be bringing things in e.g. new clothes, clear your closet first.
Each school holiday we do a thrifty shop day. My kids love it and the op shop loop near us is brilliant.
In preparation for this day, we all go through our clothes, list for sale anything we can and donate the rest.
Once that is done we can go shopping knowing we are not cluttering the house with more stuff.
At one point, we lived an extremely minimalist life as we were in a tiny apartment in inner city Melbourne.
Another time in a small townhouse in Noosa (2 bedroom with 4 kids!)
Where we live now is a large 4 bedroom home and it got filled quickly with ‘stuff’.
By implementing this rule again, it feels much cleaner and tidier.
It is a simple system to implement and streamlines a lot of your life.
To make it easier, look for donation bins near where you already go.
For example, we have some located where my teens do wrestling and taekwondo and more bins at our local shops.
I keep a bag in an area of the house to put donations in, my teens add to it as needed then once it is full, we put it in the car and donate it next time they have sport.
Look at how you can make it easier to get the stuff out of your house.
10. Digitise Items
Create digital copies of important documents and store them online safely plus switch any subscriptions you can such as magazines to digital instead of mail.
The amount of times I have needed to email a copy of these through is significantly more than the amount of times I’ve been asked to show them.
With receipts, take a photo and upload it to an app to keep for tax, warranties and returns.
This is more effective as receipts fade, get lost or damaged. Snap that photo as soon as you make the purchase or see if the store can email it.
Much of the paperwork in our home is unnecessary. See what can be emailed or digitised instead of being sent to you or kept as a document at home.
11. Reduce Decision Fatigue
What tasks in your life require the same decision or a decision to be made regularly?
I already mentioned wardrobe and meal plans but there are many areas of our life we constantly have to make decisions.
How many of these areas can you simplify and reduce the amount of decisions you have to make?
It is estimated we make 35,000 decisions a day. Some of those can be removed by simplifying it. Using routines, outsourcing and delegating, setting up systems etc.
Review your life, daily habits, and regular decisions and look for ways to reduce the number of decisions you have to make to help reduce decision fatigue.
12. Optimise Your Space
Whether it’s your office, car, kitchen or other space you are in regularly, how can you optimise it for your ideal use?
As an example, in the corner of my lounge is a little bedside table with plants on top and 2 drawers.
In those drawers are a book I am reading, a notebook to take notes and the equipment I need for interviews.
That spot in the lounge is ideal for video and podcasts so keeping those things there makes it easier for me to do that when I need to.
In the bathroom, I have a cupboard with multiple storage cases. Each case has a purpose: skincare, makeup, haircare, monthly items (wax, dye etc.)
It is easy to see what I need, get it and use it then put it back.
My teenagers have the same for their own cupboards and it makes doing our hair, skin, nails, makeup etc easy.
Another way to optimise is digitally.
Remove notifications for apps or delete them altogether.
Block sites you know distract you when you want to work or focus and do what you can to eliminate othe distractions.
Research each area you use regularly and find ways to streamline and optimise it for you.
Streamlining your life is not all about how to do everything as efficiently as possible.
While the above suggestions do help with time, decisions, the mental load etc.
It is also essential you schedule time for self-care and actively do what you can to look after yourself.
Make a list of things that are self-care for you and make sure you do them regularly.
How have you streamlined your life to make it easier?
Here are the articles and other resources linked:
11 things we changed to make our neurodiverse family life easier (ADHD and Autism)
ING $100 offer
Up Bank offers $8 instantly
My morning routine
The evening routine
Free and discounted meal kits including HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, EveryPlate, Dinnerly and YouFoodz.
6 tips for self-care, especially during obstacles