If you spend a significant amount of time in front of computers like me, it’s easy to become frustrated when something is taking a long time, or begins to feel mundane because you do it so often. In 2019, we’re fortunate that there has been significant progress made in automation, below are just a few of the ways we can use automation to save our precious time to use in more creative ways that we enjoy.
Reducing frequent, repetitive tasks
Some tasks don’t take a large amount of time to complete, however need to be done often enough that it can take a major toll on productivity over time. A key example of this for me is time tracking and invoicing. It’s a simple task that I often forget to do, and which consumes time on a daily basis which I would rather use on other tasks for my clients. There’s a point at which even the smallest of tasks are worth automating if they occur frequently enough. Because they’re repetitive, we can collect data and analyze it for patterns to automatically deduce what these tasks are and train models to automate them – one of Cytes objectives.
Automating Infrequent, time consuming, methodical tasks
Other tasks don’t need to be completed often, but when they do come up take up significant time and resource even though the process involved is highly methodical and seems robotic. One example of this I come across is researching and collating information for further analysis. My usual process involves inputting set keywords in various search engines, scanning the content for the existence of interesting text, and for text which disqualifies the article from further consideration, then saving this as a bookmark for later processing. This is similar to how CVs are automatically processed using natural language processing to reduce the quantity which need to be analyzed by managers prior to interviews. Although not necessarily repetitive enough to surface as explicit patterns in individually collected data, these tasks are common across individuals, meaning if one individual takes the time to craft a model which automates the task, they can share it with others to create a net positive impact in terms of time saved. Automating these tasks is another of Cytes goals.
Reducing cognitive load
Another aspect of computer workflows is often the retention of memories for the purpose of recall at a future date when the need arises. This cognitive overhead reduces freely available working memory we have for the task at hand, because we’re holding other information which may or may not be required on the off chance it is. In order to achieve the automations mentioned above, we need to collect all usage data. A fortuitous side-effect is that this forms a prosthetic memory which we can rely on to recall facts instead of burdening our limited brain power with the task. For me, this is akin to how we can now remember keywords and sources to search for through google instead of retaining the entirety of the information related to the workings of a particular software library, which is much easier and more efficient.