Laziness is often considered a negative personality trait. The person is unmotivated and would prefer to do nothing at all than anything productive. However, Bill Gates has been said to have a different take on laziness, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
While not a steadfast rule, Gates is mostly right with this assumption. But instead of thinking a person is lazy, it’s more appropriate to consider them efficient with their time.
The idea and reality of a 10x engineer is often debated. Do they exist or are they like the mytical unicorn? The concept of a 10x engineer is that one engineer can do the same amount of work as 10 average engineers because she is able to eliminate unnecessary steps and complete projects faster.
Real or not, any professional can take this logic of a 10x engineer to improve their efficiency. By streamlining workflows, eliminating unnecessary steps, and creating an efficient process you can be more productive than several average employees.
Part of becoming more productive is automating some of your tasks, allowing you to complete more work, without bogging yourself down with tedious tasks. But what tasks should you automate with software and what tasks should you continue to give the human touch?
Things You Should Automate
Scheduling – In my last post I mentioned X.ai [insert link], an artificially intelligent bot that could take over your email thread and schedule a meeting with another person. Taking the time to go back and forth over email, trying to find an acceptable time, date, and place to meet or hop on a call can be exhausting. While each email might not take a lot of time, it does take you out of your workflow and slows down progress. Let the bots take over and handle your scheduling.
Basic Research – There lots of different products and services that offer virtual assistance. FancyHands is one such service. Some are powered by humans, others are AI-backed software. Either way, you can outsource a great deal of your most basic research.
If you are researching a blog article, you can have one of these services help you find scholarly articles to support your thesis. Or you could use the service to research simple things like best coffee shops in a particular area. There are a lot of things you research. Take them off your to-do list.
Reporting – Professional progress needs to be reported to someone. But creating a report doesn’t have to take a long time. If you’re manually pulling in your KPIs and inserting them into a document to send off to a supervisor, you’re spending too much time on the report. Automate these stats and present progress reports in a fraction of the time.
For example, if you’re a marketing manager and need to send a traffic report to your boss, you can automate web traffic reports. With Google Sheets and a Google Analytics plugin for Chrome, you can set up Google Sheets to automatically pull in traffic data from certain dates into a spreadsheet that can be sent to a supervisor.
Things You Should Handle Manually
Customer Support – Support can be tedious, answering the same questions over and over again. Some people believe that you can automate support and keep the personal touch. However, not being able to get a hold of someone is one of the more common complaints when it comes to customer service.
Freshbooks has award winning customer service. They combine online support with a 1800 number. The number connects you with a real person right away, not after pressing a half a dozen buttons to finally reach someone. This top-notch service is not something you can automate with software. I’ve personally made three calls to Freshbooks about my account. I’ve been impressed that I’m a customer for life.
Written Content – Following Marc Andreessen’s the “software is eating the world” narrative, there are companies that are trying to automate creative tasks. For example, by using artificial intelligence, companies are able to take data and automatically turn it into written articles.
The world doesn’t just need more articles. The world needs better written content and that can’t be automated. Quality writing combines data, with real-life experience, and a personal style that is impossible to automate with artificial intelligence. Keep creating your own written content
Personal Email – I will admit, I spend too much time crafting email messages. I could used canned email responses, like other people. So personal email could be listed under things you can automate. However, email is a person-to-person activity and I believe that type of interaction should not be automated.
Relationships are the backbone to life. Every time we communicate with someone, it reinforces the relationship. That’s why I take my time when I send an email, even if it’s just a sentence or two. Perhaps if you’re a venture capitalist and constantly getting meeting requests from strangers, it would be efficient to use a canned email. But don’t rely on email templates too much. Your personal email needs a personal touch.
I’m pretty lazy efficient, which is why I love all things automated. If you can’t automate something now, in the very near future someone will devise a way to automate it. However, I still believe that not everything should be automated. Save time where you can, but some things might always require a little extra human attention. What do you think shouldn’t be automated?
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