Simplify All That You Do with These Life Hack Tools
Would You Like To Simplify Your Responsibilities and the Time You Spend on the Mundane Each Day?
Have you ever thought about those repeated tasks you do every day and every week and wondered if there’s a better, faster way to accomplish them?
Or, do you keep repeating those tasks an auto-pilot, like most people, without taking a step back to reconsider?
I know for me, I used to:
- Dutifully spend hours on laundry doing it the exact way my mom taught me (well, not including ironing the sheets. I will admit I’ve always skipped that step. Does anyone iron their sheets anymore?)
- Frantically search for important emails (usually at the last minute), when I needed the details for a party or trip
- Procrastinating on my expense reports because I couldn’t bear the thought of organizing all those receipts and matching them to my credit card
- Searching and searching for that one group text with that important homework information another mom shared a few days ago
- Spending so many hours and late nights in March and April pulling together the year’s information for our taxes
- And I could go on and on with my old list of over-doing, procrastinating, and wasted cycles….
Have you heard of Kaizen™?
Kaizen™ is a business concept that centers around continuous improvement. With this approach, you examine areas of a process to determine what can be optimized or even deleted.
This concept of continual improvement can apply to our everyday and work lives as well. It’s a great way to identify life hacks that make streamline or even eliminate the mundane.
To get started with a Kaizen™ assessment, ask yourself:
- What tasks do I repeat on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?
- How could I do them faster?
- Could I skip doing them altogether?
- Could someone else do them for me?
- Could I do them less perfectly because they’re really not that high on my priority list (but still need to be done)?
- I know…..scary thought. What if you decided to do something as a B- effort instead of A or A+? What would the ramification be, if anything?
- Seriously, I’m telling you that doing less important things half-ass is OK...
As you identify areas you can improve and optimize, check out these 8 life hack tools that can help you put your ideas into practice.
Try these 8 life hack tools, to save yourself time and frustration on all those repeated tasks
1. Google Chrome Extensions
Did you identify a process that sucks a lot of your time, like aimlessly searching social media or sifting through the untold number of emails you get everyday?
Look for a tool to solve your problem on the Google Chrome Extensions page.
There are literally 100s of extensions.
Look through them to find extensions that will solve the areas you’ve identified for improvement.
My favorite category is productivity (you might have guessed that!): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/collection/everyday_extensions.
For example, there are extensions for:
- Managing passwords (LastPass)
- Saving web pages to reference later (Google Keep or Evernote Web Clipper)
- Blocking time-wasting websites (StayFocused)
- Automatically creating a to-do/task list from your Gmail (Drag)
- Creating a personalized dashboard focused on health habits (Hey Habit) or positive mindset (Momentum)
- Starting your day with a motivational quote (Daily Motivation)
- Tracking the time you spend on specific websites (this is great way to identify time sinks) (TimeCamp Timer)
- Auto-adding items to your to-do list (e.g. Add to Toodledo, Google Tasks Panel)
Check out the IFTTT app. IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. It is a way to automate tasks, especially with your email, Dropbox/Drive, and other applications.
You can choose from a huge list of rules they’ve already defined (they call them recipes) or create your own.
You can find it in the iOS or Android app stores.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Get a notification for birthdays
- Auto-save email attachments to your Google Drive or Dropbox
- Auto-search Craigslist
- Back up photos you’re tagged in on Facebook to an iOS photo album
- Keep your iOS and Office 365 contacts in synch
- Synch Gmail emails with receipts, orders and invoices to a Google spreadsheet
- Track your daily Fitbit activity in a Google spreadsheet
- And soooo many more.
NOTE: Zapier.com is another great automation tool. It’s a little more robust so check it out if you can’t find what you need on IFTTT.
Check out this list of 84+ Ways to Automate Life for more ideas on how to use IFTTT:
84+ HACKS TO AUTOMATE LIFE'S MUNDANE
Download the 84+ HACKS TO AUTOMATE LIFE'S MUNDANE
3. A To Do List App (like Toodledo)
We might have this in common…. I used to keep track of my action items everywhere – on random pieces of paper, on sticky notes, in the notes app on my phone, etc.
Then, I would feel disorganized (this happened almost every day) and I would waste 30 minutes trying to get my list arranged and feel focused enough to begin tackling things. I probably wasted 2+ hours a day on this organization and re-organization cycle.
Have you ever done that?
Now, I track EVERYTHING in my to do list. (I use Toodledo but use whatever you like best. The key is to find an app that has the option to set tasks as recurring).
Here are the ways I make this even faster and more consistent:
- My fave app (and I’ve tried most of them) is Toodledo. (if you use another app, you can use all of these ideas below.)
- I use the Toodledo app to enter quick items.
- I use the Toodledo website to organize my week. So I look at all my action items in there on Sundays and make sure everything I need to accomplish that week has a date assigned.
- I set up an IFTTT (see #2) that automatically creates a to-do in Toodledo when I star an email.
- I put in everything including actions really far in the future (e.g. airline miles expire in 2019, don’t forget to double check the date was extended beforehand)
- I capture all my repeated tasks, so I have a COMPLETE list each day of everything that needs to get done. For example:
- Complete Mom One Line a Day journal (daily)
- Pick up for cleaners (weekly)
- Conduct family status meeting (weekly)
- Workout (well….that should be daily but I’m slacking a bit at the moment)
4. A Habit Tracker (like Way of Life or Done)
Part of optimizing the day-to-day is building new habits.
After you identify the habits you need to implement, put them in a habit tracker. This will help you to visually see the ‘chain’ of consecutive days you’ve been able to accumulate.
Don’t you love seeing a bunch of checkmarks on your week? I do!
I like the Way of Life and Done apps for habit tracking.
You can track (and give yourself credit for) things like:
- Hitting your water goal
- Miracle Morning
- Following your eating protocol
- Following a put-down-the-electronics plan
- These are just a few examples….track the habits that match back to your goals.
5. Email Management
I think most of us spend a ton of time on email. Do you?
Here are 5 ways to streamline and reduce your time on email:
- Reduce the amount of email you receive by using Unroll.me (of course if goes without saying….. do this for all the emails EXCEPT the emails I send 🙂
- Set up automation rules to sort the emails into folders. You can do this by tagging the emails and then having a rule that moves them to a folder with the associated tag.
- Set up automated follow-ups using the Boomerang extension to Gmail. This is really cool. It’s a way to automatically follow-up with someone if you haven’t heard back to your original email. Check it out!
- Set up canned responses if you are commonly answering similar questions or inquiries. You can use Gmail canned responses or the TextExpander application for this.
- Use the Chrome Extension called Drag to organize your Gmail inbox into lists. It’s similar to transforming your inbox into a collection of sticky notes. Really cool!
Drag lets you organize your Gmail inbox into columns. Mine are Review, To Do, Doing and Done.
I read somewhere that there are more than 15,000 Alexa skills available. What!!!??
Search through to find the skills that would help automate your routines. For example, you can use Alexa to
- wake you up to music,
- alert you to travel deals (via Kayak),
- give you a flash briefing of the day’s news,
- capture your to-dos, or
- dictate a text message.
Set up routines
Alexa allows you to set up a chain of multiple actions in what she calls a routine. For example, you could create a morning routine that automatically
- Wakes you up to your favorite music
- Gives you the weather report
- Gives you a news briefing
- Motivates you with a quote or affirmation
7.Home automation (like self-running vacuums and smart home devices)
Seriously, invest in an automated vacuum like a Roomba.
There are other home automation and smart home tools too such as having your thermostat adjust automatically and run without any thought.
I personally don’t think I waste a lot of time turning on/off lights but you can automate those if that would be a time saver for you.
I’ve tried an automated mop but didn’t find that to be as successful as the vaccum. Maybe they’ve improved that technology and it’s worth another try. Have you found one you like?
The automated vacuum alone is worth mentioning home automation as its own category!
8. Subscription & Delivery Services
If you add up the amount of time spent in your car, you might be shocked (I was).
To reduce this time and energy driving around (even just back and forth to the grocery store adds up), automate delivery as much as you can. Here are some ideas for deliveries:
- Amazon Monthly Subscribe & Save for everything ranging from toilet paper to toothpaste to diapers
- Meal kit services like Hello Fresh or Sun Basket to create easy at-home meals
- Monthly clothing subscriptions like Stitch Fix or Fabletics
- Costco delivery (if available in your area)
- Amazon Fresh (if available in your area)
- Local grocery store delivery
Experiment to Continuously Improve
I’ve learned that trial and error helps me optimize my day-to-day and cut down on the time I spend on the mundane.
I hope you’ll look at this as continuous process improvement, an opportunity to change up what you’ve done for so long and in turn, free time for yourself for the things that really matter.
And, if you haven’t read it yet, check out the post – 84+ Ways to Automate Life. That post gives you lots of life hacks also.
To help get you inspired, I’ve created the free Ultimate List of 84+ Life Hacks. You can download it here 👇
84+ HACKS TO AUTOMATE LIFE'S MUNDANE
Download the 84+ HACKS TO AUTOMATE LIFE'S MUNDANE