Automate and leave it alone

I’m a big fan of automation in work and life. Automation in work looks like auto emails sent to podcast guests and calendar booking software that helps me stop the back-and-forth meeting emails. Automation in life looks like habits and rituals I create to get the outcomes I want. Rituals like my morning routine of walking the boys to the bus stop and then walking the dog for a mile. And habits like cleaning up the kitchen right after dinner so we won’t have to do it later.

Last week I had coffee with a new friend. He was telling me about golf lessons he had been taking and his instructor’s unique perspective. His instructor teaches that it’s essential to get your golf swing correct, automate it, and leave it alone. It’s the last part that got me; leave it alone. A lot of golfers work on the perfect swing. They get a good swing, but then they tweak and tweak and tweak and make it bad again. The result of all that tweaking is a swing that goes from good to bad, back to good, without real improvement over time. The same is true with our automation.
Once something works, leave it.
Once something is working, we must automate it and leave it alone. If we insist on continuing to tweak it, we will get marginal improvements at best, and we will likely make it worse. This is true for our daily routines, like getting up and out the door, working out, and nighttime routines. It’s also true for our work schedules, habits, and even how we spend our downtime.

The trick is to get to where something works for you, leave it alone, and then work on the next thing. It’s not easy, but it will make life easier.

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