Did you ever watch The Jetsons? It was a cartoon from the early 60s about a family in the future. The show ran in syndication and returned for a brief stint when I was a child.
The Jetsons lived in a dome in the sky where cooking was automated, and Rosie the Robot took care of household chores. Cars both flew and drove themselves. Technology simplified all tasks. Today, Apple’s Shortcuts help get us one step closer to living like The Jetsons.
It’s well-documented that I love Shortcuts, the Apple app that lets users create automation sequences. Over the years, I’ve tried to share that love with everyone by documenting my daily journal shortcut and using the app to create a MadLibs story. Shortcuts truly are the killer feature on all Apple devices.
As of this writing, I have 45 custom-built shortcuts in my arsenal, many that I use daily. Matthew Cassinelli recently shared two of my shortcuts, who worked on the Shortcuts team at Apple and now shares his app knowledge with everyone. He caught wind of a Shortcut I shared on Twitter and highlighted my shortcuts in issues 19 and 20 of his excellent weekly newsletter, What’s New in Shortcuts. Last week I was a guest on the Eight of Sixteen podcast discussing Shortcuts with Mark Ellis.
The goal of Shortcuts is to save time on repetitive tasks. While I think Shortcuts is the best tool for that case, the tool is ultimately meaningless if you don’t think about how to save time in your daily routine. So, instead of sharing more shortcuts today, I want to highlight the two reasons I continually look for ways to automate tasks and save time.
Automation is a Fun Challenge
I love solving puzzles, and automation is the ultimate puzzle. I often think about things I do (like saving documents or turning off lights) and wonder how to make those tasks easier. My brain combines similar things, too. For example, I generally don’t want the lights on when I leave the house, so I wonder how to automate turning them off.
With the help of Shortcuts (and a few HomeKit enabled devices), I’m generally successful in solving automation challenges. There are times I get stumped and look to Twitter for help, and, as I discussed on Mark’s podcast, there’s one super-advanced use case I can’t seem to crack. Though, I like the challenge and figuring out solutions.
Automation Reduces Stress
Ultimately, Shortcuts save time when I work on projects. Exactly how much time is hard to quantify, but it’s enough to notice. This reduction in time leads to a significant decrease in stress. Who doesn’t want less stress in their lives?
For example, sending pitches or interview requests is stressful. You want to send a form email for simplicity, but you don’t want it to seem like you’re sending a template. Rewriting takes time and adds stress about misspelled words and improperly used commas.
Instead, I created a detailed Shortcut that has options and variables. Technically, it’s a form email though the finished product appears as something written specifically for the intended recipient. Plus, I trust the outcome since I meticulously checked the spelling and grammar while creating the shortcut. Less stress. Less mess.
While we haven’t quite gotten to the point where living with technology is equivalent to living like The Jetsons, we’re getting there. Instead of just enabling mindless scrolling and content creation, our phones and computers can make life in the real world easier. It’s up to us to unlock the potential.
Now, can someone build me a flying car?
How do you save time with everyday tasks?