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Robotic vacuum cleaner in front of man relaxing: Automation can help eliminate tedium

Automation Will Make 2017 the Year of Free Time

January 5th, 2017   ||    by Todd Wasserman

Automation is the great force sweeping through our work and home lives as we head into the third decade of the 21st century. Thanks to gains in machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence, we can delegate at least some of our least favorite chores to machines, as Vodafone explains.

This isn’t a new idea—even 20 years ago, consumers could program their coffee machines to brew when they woke in the morning. DVRs are also almost 20 years old, too, and their predecessors, VCRs, were also programmable—even if few people figured out how to actually do so.

But today’s technologies are a quantum leap beyond those old school helpers. As 2017 dawns, we have the ability to automate many of the most taxing and time-wasting activities. Scientific American reported excess decision-making can deplete your brain, so here’s how automated tools can help us be our best.

At Home

Start your day with Withings Aura, a bedside light and alarm clock designed to improve your sleep quality. Aura will gently wake you with light when you’re in a light sleep phase. Google’s Nest thermostat, which measures the outside temperature and warms your house accordingly, will ensure your house is warm when you get up on a cold winter morning. Smart coffee machines like the Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew can even be programmed from your smartphone to actually get you out of bed when your coffee’s ready.

If you’re concerned about cleaning chores, vacuuming can be outsourced to iRobot’s Roomba machines and, as The Wall Street Journal explains, self-guided lawn mowers can cut your grass for you.

At the Store

If you consider shopping a chore rather than a joy, you may want to consider automating that errand, too. LG and Samsung both offer smart refrigerators that can tell you when you’re running low on an item and automatically order more. Amazon‘s programmable Dash button orders and reorders items like detergents and Ziploc bags when you’re running low. Amazon’s Subscribe and Save can also let you set up an automatic order for standard-issue household goods like pet supplies and groceries.

At Work

Getting work done more efficiently often requires the ability to screen out distractions. That’s where apps like Freedom come in. Set Freedom for a specified time period and you’ll be unable to surf the Internet during that time. A less extreme version, StayFocused, will block only productivity-sapping sites like Facebook. To make sure you don’t miss anything important, you can use IFTTT (If This Then That), which will send you a text.

You can enhance your productivity by using industry tools like Videa’s programmatic buying platform, which removes requirements like insertion orders and person-to-person calls. Rather than doing anyone’s thinking for them, these automated tools remove repetitive tasks, freeing you up to focus on the important decisions and creative projects you love.

At Night

At the end of the day, automated lighting systems like Automated Environments help you put your kids to bed and set a password-protected timer that cuts off their Internet and TV access after a certain point. These Jetsons family-style systems can also double-check that you locked the doors before turning in.

While some folks might think these options are straight out of their favorite sci-fi show, many welcome the tech support. Choose the level of automation that fits you and you might even discover some new passions with your freed-up time. At work, automation promises to tackle the mind-numbing and time-consuming tasks on your to-do list in order to make way for the value-adding, creative, and strategic.

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