Most of us have tried establishing a new habit. With good intentions, we usually start out strong. But then life happens, and the habit falls to the wayside. Maybe things become busy at work, or the weather isn’t cooperating, or your kids aren’t sleeping, which means you’re not sleeping. Whatever the reason, there is a common denominator to our failed efforts: we rely mostly on willpower.
The truth is, willpower doesn’t work. At least, not for long. The part of your brain that controls your conscious choices doesn’t have enough horsepower to make endless decisions that override your body’s basic disposition. To ensure you take a certain action consistently, you need something more powerful. You need to tap the part of your brain that does things automatically, without having to make a decision about the action constantly. You need to self-automate.
Self-automation is the process of putting some of your daily decisions and actions on autopilot, so they happen without conscious thought. When you tap into this hidden brainpower, the benefits are incredible. Here are three of them.
- Increased mental energy. Researchers estimate the average person makes some 35,000 decisions every day. By the end of the day, you’re left feeling exhausted, with no energy for even the smallest decisions, like what to eat or watch on TV. When you reduce as much daily decision-making as possible, you free your mind and lower your stress levels. You also clear up brainpower for other, more important things.
- Creative problem-solving. Ever had a breakthrough in your thinking while in the shower? That’s partly because the shower is already a self-automated environment. You don’t really think about the process of bathing—you just start going through the motions. Imagine what’s possible when you automate more decisions and actions through your day. You gain more headspace for creative thought and more freedom to think, contemplate problems and ideas, and make connections you hadn’t seen before.
- Reclaimed time. Many of the tasks that contribute to our common feeling of daily busyness could be managed with much less attention and stress through self-automation. Think of the time and energy that goes into daily meal planning, coordinating school schedules and extracurricular activities, or routine household maintenance like laundry. Many of these small, but significant, daily choices can be put on autopilot. Use tools like menu-planning templates, subscription services, or shared family calendars to significantly reduce your daily decision-making and save hours each week.
What’s one area of your life you can begin to self-automate to reduce stress, claim time, or free headspace?