What if you were a wizard that could bend the entire world to your will? Chores would do themselves, bills would pay on time and your appliances would obey your every thought. Well, you can't do that exactly, but with a bit of ingenuity, you can automate a lot of your life so you don't have to trudge through the boring stuff. Here are 9 things you can automate right now.
9. Maintain Your Computer Without The Work
No one likes to sit around and clean up their computer, but it's something that has to get done. We've talked about what kind of maintenance you need to do on your Windows PC and Mac and much of that you can automate -- like running CCleaner on a schedule. You should also set up an automated backup program, so you never lose your data. Set it up once and forget it.
8. Make Your Bills Pay Themselves
Paying bills and managing your budget sucks. Luckily, we live in an age where computers can do a lot of the work for us. Check out our guide to automating your finances for ideas.
7. Create A Diet Without Thinking
Whether you're trying to lose weight or just take the stress out of planning and cooking, you can automate what you eat with a number of tools. Gather all your recipes up in one place and plan your weekly meals ahead of time for stress-free shopping and cooking. If you need to pay closer attention to your diet (like if you're trying to lose weight), try a service like Eat This Much, which will plan your diet for you based on your goals. That way, you can keep an eye on what you eat and stay on track with minimal effort.
6. Organise Important Documents And Files
We've all got stacks of papers lying around, not to mention a hard drive full of unorganised files. Good then that you can automate just about anything with those files using a few tools. First, if you're having trouble organising that paper, go paperless so you can organise it digitally -- it won't take you much time. Ditch hard drive clutter by organising your home folder automatically. For everything else, you can use Actions on Windows or Automator on the Mac -- they'll let you automatically rename a bunch of files, crop a large number of images, or even extract text from a bunch of PDF files. Anything you can imagine, you can probably do -- heck, I even put together a service that syncs iTunes with nearly any device.
5. Make Your Phone Read Your Mind
Smartphones can be useful, but sometimes it feels like it takes forever to perform the simplest of tasks. With a few tools, you can essentially make your phone read your mind, performing tasks in response to related actions. For example, you could tell your phone to automatically dim your screen at night, or go into silent mode when you put it face down. Android users should check out Tasker, while iPhone users will need to jailbreak and try out some of these tools to make it happen.
4. Integrate Your Favourite Apps And Web Services
You probably have a few apps and tools that you absolutely couldn't live without -- like Dropbox, Gmail, a to-do list, or something else. That's great, but you can make those services even better by automating tasks -- and even making them talk to each other -- with If This Then That, also known as IFTTT. Save articles for later, fix Instagram pictures on Twitter, add to-dos with Siri, archive your life and get digital doubles of your photos. There's barely a limit to what it can do.
3. Download Anything Without Even Searching For It
The days of combing the net for good downloads is over. With a small collection of programs, you can have your computer automatically search for, download and organise nearly any type of file in existence. You can even tell it the quality of videos you want to download, the file format of the music you want, or what program you want to use to download it. It takes a little work to set up, but you'll never have to search for a file on the web again.
2. Put Your Chores On Autopilot
Doing chores is boring, so why waste time doing them when you can put them on autopilot? You can't make your broom come alive and clean the room for you (unless you're Merlin), but you can create a schedule that breaks everything up into almost unnoticeable chunks. Do your cleaning in regular short bursts and even speed up your laundry. It isn't true automation, but it'll sure feel like it when you have all that extra time in your day. Image: Maarten Takens.
1. Automate Everything In Your Home
Ever wish you could change the thermostat without getting up, or unlock your door without fumbling with your keys? Home automation can make it happen. We've shared loads of tricks over the years, from transforming your digs into a home of the future, controlling everything with Siri, or even watering the plants and feeding the cat.