Stop Prioritizing and Start Automating

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Maximize your productivity through automation, not prioritization.

It’s amazing to me how enamored working professionals and communities at large are with to-do lists. There always seems to be a new app claiming to have solved society’s productivity dilemma with better ways to prioritize tasks. I think that as a society we’re generally busier than any other community in history, and yet we still feel unproductive.

I think we’ve been approaching this whole productivity thing wrong. I don’t think it’s about prioritizing tasks to get done, but rather not having to do the tasks in the first place. That’s how you become the most productive — by eliminating the manual effort required to complete a task.

I’m a huge fan of apps such as IFTTT and Zapier because they start with the premise of automation in an effort to get tasks done. In the opposite manner, apps such as Wunderlist and Todoist start with the premise of task prioritizing for maximizing output of manual labor.

Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list. — Patti Digh

The most productive systems are those that are fully automated. If manual labor is involved there is a measurable inefficiency, amplified by the lost opportunity of one’s self towards other tasks. I cannot continue on to task B until task A is complete. But if task A is completely automated, then I can start right away on task B and complete it much sooner. If I automate task B, then I am free to apply myself to another task of greater value. So, by aiming to remove myself as a necessary factor of completion for task A and B — literally not working on them — I am able to maximize my productivity by a factor of X; X being the variable of value for which task I can apply my open capacity towards.

Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before. — Franz Kafka

Your goal each day should not be to complete all the tasks on your to-do list, rather to not have to work on them at all. Throughout history society has made manual tasks more efficient through automation, allowing more challenging problems to be solved. It’s incremental. It’s how we advance.

So why is it that within corporate America, so many of us are unable to succeed at taking a task and making it more efficient to the point of never having to touch it again? We’re happy and content to do the same task the same way every day. Is it because we’re scared of losing our job? Is it because we’re not equipped with the necessary skills to break down problems?

As an employee, your greatest contribution to the company is your ability to deliver value — to build wealth for the company. By repeating the same tasks, you’re not increasing your value or creating wealth for the company — you’re simply sustaining it.

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself ahead of today’s task list:

  • How can I do this in half the time?
  • Can someone else do this? Can I leverage another resource or team to do this?
  • Is this a valuable task relative to the team’s objective or focus?
  • What existing process is not being followed that is causing me to do this task?

Stop prioritizing and start automating.

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