Note: The first part of this post about my social marketing tip is mostly tongue in cheek. If you want to get to the meat of the automation tricks, head down to the bottom of the post. If you don’t mind reading a little bloomin humor (sorry, couldn’t help it), read on.
I often read about how the machines are going to replace everyone in the workforce and how bad this is for us. I think that we are overreacting.
Yes, artificial intelligence seems like we are creating our nemesis from the show Terminator, but the fact of the matter is, we have no idea how to create an intelligence like ours. So, what are these fancy AI creations actually functioning as?
The End of Many Jobs Saves Me Time
Well, modern AI is just a better version of the machines we have been using for years to save time. AI systems are labor saving devices a lot like the ones we all use every day (and replace human labor in the process).
- Dishwasher – This is one of my favorite industrial automation tools. Really. I went without one for so long, when we got a dishwasher in our new home, I calculated the time savings to me at about 1.75 hrs per day, every day of the month. So just this item alone saves me 37 hours a month.
- Laundry Machine – Have you ever done laundry by hand? I spent 5 weeks in Mombasa, Kenya in 2004 at a YWAM base. We did all our laundry by hand. Time it took per machine sized load? 30 min, conservative estimate and that is just the washing part. At a conservative 4 loads per week for my family of four, using a washing machine saves my wife and I 60 hours of work each month.
- Automobile – OK, I understand that people did not travel as far as before cars became the auto-motion of choice, so I will not include my commute to work. But, I will include my commute to the grocery store nearby because it is within walking distance (30 min), but I choose to drive it (5 min). So, since we go to two different stores about twice a week, that is a time savings of 400 min. or 6 hours and 40 minutes a month travel time. IF I did include my travel to work (10 Miles round trip) or my wife’s bimonthly trips to school (20 miles round trip), the time saved goes up significantly.
- Search Algorithms – Now, I know you’re probably not one of the weird nerds who flipped open the encyclopedia at the dinner table to argue about whether Gengis Khan actually became a Christian in his old age, but my family was. I still remember that dinner table conversation because my mom was absolutely adamant that he had not, but our World Book Encyclopedia disagreed with her. So my brother won that conversation. Anyways, the time it takes to find something out nowadays has drastically decreased: you can say it to the AI on a modern phone and get an answer back from whatever page is on the top of Google in a matter of a few seconds. Or, if you’re particularly old-school, you can still type it in. Since I am a writer, automated search functions save me probably 10 hours of work a week researching my blogs.
- Automatic Lights – Lights aren’t automatic, you say. You still have to flip the switch. Yes, but have you ever tried filling a lantern? Have you lived by the light of candles? Both of these are amazingly inefficient systems, especially if you are making the oil and the candles yourself. That was the pioneer way. The last time I made candles was in school, but it took about 20 minutes to create 6 by hand-dipping. You need at least 4 to read, so in order to make certain we have 4 hours of light a night, and assuming a burn rate of 1 every 2 hours, you need 8 per day or 240 candles total. Time to make them? 120 minutes or 2 hours (and that is if you have the ingredients warmed on an electric warmer, and does not include clean-up time).
So, I have counted up over 100 hours of time saved from these modern devices. See? Automation has already killed the hand-washer, the candlestick maker, the cart driver, the launder (well, no, it didn’t do that, but they definitely changed). And we are worried about the next innovations?
OK. Now that I’m done my silliness, here is the actual time-saving device I learned this week:
IFTTT – The One Neat Automation Trick I Learned Last Week
Pronounced ift (like gift, but without the g), IFTTT, IF This Then That, is an automated tool that allows you to create automatic responses to events in apps you control.
For example, I use IFTT to automate my social media marketing. I set events in my Google calendar titled “GroupPost.” I put a link to a Canva photo in the where file and what I want to say in my group in the Description box (I linked to a new Google Calendar I created specifically for Facebook Management). Then I set the post to repeat every week, or on the same date each month, or every other week.
In IFTTT, I create an applet (that’s what they call ’em) to send that post to my Facebook posting system (for my group I have to use Buffer). This allows me to create automatic posting of an activity on Facebook and set it up to repeat when I want it to.
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