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There’s a distinct difference between being efficient with our time and just being busy. It’s easy to confuse the two, as many of us have been brought up to think that the more we work, the more we will succeed. Unfortunately, this mentality acknowledges the quantity of work but neglects to recognize the way we work.

Life automation is all about delegating our work, allowing us to spend more time focusing on the things that are actually important. Busy work is not the same thing as hard work. Let’s look at five ways that we can cut the busy out of our lives and optimize our most precious resource – our time.

Let Your Bills Pay Themselves

Never make another late payment again! Instead, set up an automatic budgeting and bill-paying system to do the dirty work for you. Services like Mint.com allow you to create budgets and automatically pay bills. Not only will this save you all kinds of time, but it can also give you immeasurable peace of mind. Having a budget can even help you meet financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a new house. This kind of resource is a great way to automate your finances.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

If you think that only the rich and fabulous have personal secretaries, think again. When it comes to life automation, a good place to start is with a virtual assistant (VA), which is a real human being that works for you virtually (through emails, phone calls, Skype, etc.). And let’s face it, much of our work can be done online nowadays, so there aren’t many limitations. Whether you need someone to input data or schedule you an oil change, a good VA will help you cut the busy work out of your life.

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “I definitely can’t afford a personal assistant.” Many VAs can cost about the same as or less than a babysitter’s hourly rates.

A good place to hire a VA is through the site Fiverr, which matches employers with freelancers from all over the world. Like any position, you’ll need to do your due diligence when hiring a VA, but there are many people who would be more than happy to answer your phone calls or remember your mother-in-law’s birthday for you.

If you’d like to learn more about VAs (and life automation in general), I highly recommend reading Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek” .

Smart House

Home automation is all the rage right now. We love the idea of being able to turn our porch lights on when we’re not at home or to crank up the heat without getting out of bed. If you want to stay ahead of the curve on these types of products, check out this handy beginner’s guide to everything automated.

Home automation systems are moving us one step closer toward what’s called “the internet of things,” which, in most cases, refers to all things – including everything in your house – having their own IP address. Basically, this means that we’ll eventually be able to interact with our homes like we do with our computers: regulating, adjusting and making requests with a simple command.

At this moment in time, most of the automation products currently available aren’t going to drastically simplify your busy life. However, some of these devices are great for monitoring your home when you’re not there, meaning your biggest investment is safe when you’re away.

Food for Thought

Scrounging around the kitchen after a hard day of work can be frustrating, but there are some ways to organize and simplify this process. Online services like Eat This Much allow you to create eating goals for yourself (such as how many calories you want to take in daily). It then generates meal ideas and a handy grocery list. Simply preparing for your meals a week in advance is a great time saver, and it helps you maintain a healthy diet throughout your week. Sometimes, just having a plan helps you to stand strong against a grumbling stomach.

Making Money While You Sleep

There are actually a few ways to create autopilot income – the first of which (and most common) is investing in the stock market. As an investor, you’re essentially walking up to a company and saying “Hey, take my money and go make more money,” which is the purest form of automation. The greatest perk about investing is that you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in the field that you invest. Instead you’re trusting actual experts to make the right choices with your money.

However, some investors like to have more of the power in their own hands. For the investor who wants to get in the thick of their investments, consider purchasing investment property. Done correctly, renting out property to tenants can be one of the best ways to create passive income. It can also come with a few headaches, so check out the pros and cons of being a landlord before moving forward.

What are some ways that you’re automating your life? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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