Automating Your Life to Unleash Creativity

Automating Your Life to Unleash Creativity

Automating Your Life to Unleash Creativity

Who doesn’t want to be more creative? I am not just talking about graphic design, but creative problem solving, the next big marketing campaign idea, or business development strategy to capture the next key client. I know I often can get bogged down with the day-to-day tasks and deadlines that blocks my creativity. Often, when we need to come up with something creative, our mind is going a mile-a-minute thinking about the other stuff we need to do. Instead, I have found some ways to unleash creativty that I share below.

Maybe your mind is like this meme below. I know mine sure is, but I have tested some ways over the past year and realized some great results. I thought if these strategies helped, surely, they could help someone else. Why not write about them?

Unleash Creativity - All of the tabs open

Ways to Unleash Creativity

Some of these I tested on purpose and some were just by-products of other life changes. When I took the time to self-reflect, I found that these mini-tests were helping to reduce my stress, decision fatigue, and brain overload. This helped me to become more focused on my day job and side gig (Marketers Take Flight) as well as some creative home design projects.

So, I thought I would share these mini-tests with you. Not that I want you to do exactly what I do, but maybe think about some repetitive areas of your life that are sucking the creativity out of your mind and draining your energy. How can you systemize those areas of your life to unleash your creativity?

Let’s get started.

Deciding What to Wear

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fashionista. I try to stick to rather traditional, timeless styles that are easy. Several years ago, I discovered a style of suit and blouse at The Limited (man, I miss you), and started just buying in all the colors and patterns they offered. On Pinterest, I then discovered, I was putting together the start of my capsule wardrobe.

Then, Stitch Fix came around. I immediately signed up the day I heard about it. For someone, who didn’t like nor had a lot of time to shop, this was the perfect service for me. While I only get one to two Fixes a year now, I love that it’s delivered to my door and they give me little cards to show me how to wear the pieces. Remember, I am no fashionista. I need all the instructions I can get!

Stitch Fix now offers plans for women, men, and kids. I can see getting our entire wardrobe here. If you are interested in trying it out, use this link to save $25. This covers the styling fee, so you can basically try for free. Full disclosure, I will also get a credit.

In 2017, we moved from Orlando to Gainesville and completely renovated a 1960s ranch house (follow along on Instagram at #DivenDemo). We sold our house in Orlando very fast and stayed with our family for almost three months. All our possessions were in storage, and I was literally living out of a suitcase. Fortunately, I was between jobs, so I only needed casual clothes. I had a half dozen Target T-shirts, a few pair of shorts, and jeans. Again, a capsule wardrobe without even knowing it.

Now, I follow a similar pattern of casual clothes (I work from home) with a few nice business suits and outfits for client meetings and conferences. Most of my clothes are still packed in storage bins in my house. I thought that I would get bored of wearing the same half dozen shirts and a few outfits, but I haven’t. In fact, it’s so much easier to get dressed in the morning and pack for travel.

If this is an area of stress or consumes a lot of your time, you may want to try to simplify your wardrobe. To help ease you into it, maybe just take everything you’re not going wear and put it in a different closet. Then see if you miss it, before donating or selling it.

What to cook for dinner?

This used to be a text between my husband and me almost every day around 3 pm. He’s the cook, so I would lean on him to do most of the cooking. I can cook. My three specialties are tacos, spaghetti, and a mean grilled cheese sandwich. Anything else, I need to follow a recipe. So, the cooking was handled mostly by my husband. This worked until about a year ago when he got a new job managing a very high-profile historic renovation construction project. The time he comes home varies each night. We ended up either waiting until 8 pm to eat or just picking up take-out.

We tried to meal planning and prepping on Sundays. That works, for the most part, unless we are out of town over the weekend, the kids have activities, are doing housework, etc. We needed something else.

That’s when I turned to the meal kits. There were some great Black Friday discounts, so I signed up for Hello Fresh. They deliver three meals a week for the four of us. This has been a life changer for us. I am cooking three dinners a week. I don’t have to think about what to cook, buy special ingredients, nor go shopping to get them. We are starting to try a few other companies, but so far, the entire family has preferred the Hello Fresh meals the best.

If dinner is a struggle for you, I would strongly suggest trying out a meal kit company. They may seem expensive at first, but compared to take-out for a family of four, the three dinners are quite a deal.

You can use this link to get $40 off your first Hello Fresh order. Note, this is my personal referral link. I will get $20 if you sign up too.

How do I stay in shape?

Finding the time to exercise and sticking to a routine is quite challenging for any professional. Combine that with my displeasure of any form of exercise, and it’s been a struggle for years for me to stay in shape.

I know myself when it comes to exercising. I am not strong-willed enough to do it on my own (we have a gym in our garage) and I need to be around other people when I am working out.

In Orlando, I was a member of a run club which helped me stay accountable and be social. Two of the key ingredients to my workout success. I was able to run numerous 5ks and 5 half-marathons with this club.

Now, I turn to Orange Theory. I have always liked workout classes, but this data geek especially likes the heart rate monitor, Splat points, and reports emailed to me after each workout. I also like that I have to schedule the classes and get charged when I don’t show up. When I do go to a class, the coach does the entire thinking for me. I just follow her instructions and push myself. It’s now just an automatic part of my week. I no longer feel guilty about not working out or constantly thinking about when I going to work out because I am now going to about three to four classes a week.

If you are struggling to stay healthy, look to what mindsets you have that may be holding you back? This goes beyond just scheduling, but what conditions would make it just an automatic part of your week?

How do remember all my passwords?

We have a password for everything—work stuff, home stuff, kids’ stuff, and even pets’ stuff. Often, they must change frequently. And, I am also told that they shouldn’t all be the same, your kids’ birthday or your pet’s name. So, how do you remember them all?

About a year ago, I heard of a service called LastPass from a podcast I was listening to. It’s a service that stores all your passwords and can help you generate new passwords that are really strong. It has a Chrome browser plug-in and an app—so you can autofill usernames and passwords on your computer and mobile device.

I have been using it for almost a year now and it’s been a time- and mind-saver! Also, I have shown my husband how to get into the system. So, forbid anything happened to me, he would know to get into all our accounts.

How do I respond to all my emails?

I spend most of my day in emails. I am sure you do too. A lot of my emails are somewhat repetitive in response to our potential clients, partners, colleagues, etc. I noticed I spent a lot of time typing the same response over and over. Instead of spending time typing out all the same type of responses, I discovered Templates in Microsoft Outlook. You just click on the template and it adds the formatted text to your email message. See image below of some of my actual email templates.

Unleash Creativity - Microsoft Outlook Templates

There is even a version of templates on your iPhone. You can create what’s called Text Replacements that allow you to just type a letter or two and it will expand to a phrase. For example, I have set up one so when I type “gg” it expands to Go Gators! I use that a lot on my phone. I should probably create some that are more useful for work.

If you use Gmail, you can create text snippets and use them in emails in a similar way. I have created a few for my personal email correspondence.

I even just discovered another 3rd party-tool called TextExpander. It goes beyond email and allows you to save text and graphics to use anywhere. I haven’t tried it yet but am looking forward to it.

How do I schedule meetings without reply all emails?

I spend a lot of time coordinating meetings. I was finding my self constantly going back and forth via email, especially with large groups. To minimize this time-sucking, boring task I looked for different ways to set up meetings.

The first is using Doodle. I have used Doodle for years to allow many people to indicate their availability for a meeting. When everyone fills out the Doodle poll, I can then see the most available timeslot and send out my meeting invite. Doodle is also free to use.

I also have people wanting to set up meetings with me. Since I am now on the consulting side, I have various types of reasons for folks to meet with me from demos and sales discussions to training sessions, and beyond. To eliminate the back and forth about who was available when I started using Calendly. I now just send them my Calendly link (using my Outlook Template text mentioned above) and the person requesting the meeting, can see my availability and pick a timeslot that works for them. It then adds a meeting request to both of our calendars. You can see my Calendly page below. There is a free version, but I opted to pay the $100 or so each year because it saves so much of my time.

Unleash Creativity - Calendly

How do you automate repetitive tasks to unleash creativity?

Have you tested any ways to remove or systematize repetitive tasks in your home and work life? Have these automations unleashed your creativity?

I would love to hear what you have done so I can try others. Leave me some ideas below.

I am still trying to get rid of the laundry. Let me know if you find a machine that washes, folds, and puts away the laundry!

2 thoughts on “Automating Your Life to Unleash Creativity

  1. Trish Teeter

    Another Outlook feature I frequently use is Insert>Quick Parts for short email messages such as requests for RFPs/RFQs, or internally (and frequently) for our Cosential users when I get a Go/No-Go notification email: “You didn’t change the stage to 03A-Go/No-Go and, hence, didn’t fill in estimated fee and win probability. What are those numbers, please?”

    Also, I depend heavily on Siri to remind me of everything: pick up chicken on the way home from work, water plants every Monday morning, get ground beef out to thaw, call for Philharmonic tickets, etc. etc. etc. So much easier than typing in my own reminders or trusting my aging memory!

    1. Lindsay Post author

      Hi Trish,

      I hadn’t thought about Quickparts for emails before. That is a great tip! Thanks for sharing.


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