Automate Your Busywork (Book Summary & Notes)

Jacob Bank
Jacob Bank
Book cover

Goodreads: 3.34/5

Amazon: 3.9/5

The book in a paragraph

Automating routine tasks frees up mental energy for more meaningful work, enhancing productivity and job satisfaction. By focusing on automation, you can shift from tedious activities to engaging in creative and strategic projects, leading to a more rewarding professional life. This book encourages a balance between efficiency and personal fulfilment—and automation is the driver of that reality.

Automate Your Busywork book summary

This is our book summary of Automate Your Busywork: Do Less, Achieve More, and Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff by Aytekin Tank. Our notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as our takeaways.

  • The automation flywheel concept emphasizes starting small with automation for significant long-term efficiency gains. “The flywheel starts turning when you realize you've fallen into a pit of busywork and you're ready to climb out, and it proceeds in three stages: divide and conquer, design and implement, and refine and iterate.”
  • Success for knowledge workers comes from smartly deploying automation rather than falling for the illusion of productivity that comes with hard work alone.
  • Automation is a way to focus on meaningful tasks, rather than eliminating work entirely.
  • “Automation is the key to unlocking more freedom, creativity, strategic thinking, and peace of mind” ( it can also prevent the burnout so prevalent in modern work).
  • Automation isn’t a one-and-done process—it’s a process of constant iteration and tweaks.
  • Key principles: we’ve been told modern work requires superhuman work ethic. That’s not true, the problem is you think you need to do every bit of work that’s handed to you manually (and automation is the cure).
  • Work will always be there. Automation won’t change that. But it can reduce the boring stuff in your workday so you can do the work that matters to you—and ultimately build a more meaningful life and career.
  • “No matter what your responsibilities are, automation can—and will—make your life easier.”
  • Benefits of automation: you can overcome human limitations, errors and forgetfulness, take the guesswork out of documentation, maintain consistency and minimize errors. You can also enable continues improvement, and more complexity in your workflows, while lowering costs (for business owners) and reducing stress.
  • “Doing things manually takes time, particularly if you factor in the time we lose to human shortcomings like distraction, boredom, and forgetfulness. What can take us minutes (or hours) automation can do in seconds, even milliseconds.”
  • No matter what your job is, there’s a good chance it can be at least partially automated by breaking down tasks into individual steps or discrete steps for more effective automation solutions.
  • (This is why it’s important to map out your processes and break each task down into its smallest basic parts to see which parts you can automate or abandon altogether).
  • Great point about process auditing: “There's no point in automating rote, repetitive tasks if you haven't addressed why you're doing them—or even if you need to do them at all.”
  • Three questions: What can I automate? What do I want to spend my time on? What don’t I want to spend my time on?
  • Use Tank’s automation strategies to identify and eliminate low-priority tasks from your list of tasks, ensuring you focus on high-value work.
  • A few principles of getting started with automation: “identify the busywork tasks you dread… embrace the fact that building automations can be boring. Accept the boredom and do it anyway. Acknowledge that you need to make time to save time.”
  • Lean on digital tools to make your life easier. (e.g. Automation tools for communication apps can reduce back-and-forth emails, freeing up time for more meaningful activity.
  • Kaizen—Japanese term meaning change for the better/continuous improvement in all parts of life (personal, social, work).
  • Don’t just set up an automation and wash your hands of it—check in regularly and even set up KPIs or goals to measure them against.
  • Anyone can automate—but becoming an automation expert doesn’t happen overnight!
  • Knowledge workers should be cultivating an automation-first mindset, and keep in mind that the results aren’t shown in an hour or a day—automation pays dividends over time.

Ready to turn theory into practice? Relay is a workflow automation app that empowers you to streamline your busy work—easily create workflows that put your newfound automation knowledge to work, freeing up time for what matters most. Get started with our free plan.

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