The Benefits and Dangers of Autopilot

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

2020, surprisingly, has come with more benefits than I would have thought given the general awfulness of this year. 

One of the biggest benefits that I’ve learned and am trying so very hard to incorporate into my workday is to s l o w  d o w n

As an entrepreneur, putting tasks on autopilot makes slowing down even easier. There’s a tool for almost everything now, so autopiloting your entire process is a thing that might be possible. 

As a process guy, I love autopilot. Repeatable steps to get the same results, that is my JAM.

The most successful people love it too. Honestly, most people look for ways to shortcut or streamline their lives. It saves bandwidth for other important decisions. That’s why Steve Jobs wore the same “uniform” each day; it was one less decision for his busy brain to deal with. 

However, too much of anything can be bad. Including, sadly, autopilot. 

There are plenty of things that are perfect for autopiloting. Checking email, paying bills, social media posting, even cold or quick communication with prospects or clients. These are all things that you can probably put on autopilot.

If it’s something that you can delegate to somebody else, you can put it on autopilot. 

I’ve gone a lot deeper into delegating in a previous post, but between delegating and autopiloting the tasks that slow you down or jam up your more important, money-making processes, the more successful you’ll be. And the more time you’ll have!

The trouble starts happening when you autopilot everything. 

There are many areas in my world that if I did it on autopilot, it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort for all involved. 

For example, I train and coach a lot of different people in different roles and industries. While there are some same or similar things that I work with each of them on, I still have to listen to their individual issues and adapt my advice and coaching strategies to their needs.

I can’t do that on autopilot. And I would be failing them if I did.

Anything that requires focus, whether it’s working with others or creating something, should never be on autopilot. Instead, I go the opposite way and try to enter a flow state so that I can put my full attention on it. 

A flow state is the ideal mental state for learning new things and creating. It is also about having your full focus on one thing that is just beyond your level of mastery. The fact that you have not mastered it yet allows you to get into that mental flow state.

In case you didn’t notice from this blog, I write a lot. I believe the more of my knowledge and experience I put out into the world, the more people I could potentially help. When I write, I have to be in a flow state. 

Flow states require your full attention, a level of being present that can be really hard to build in the best of times. But with the pressures and pulls of our busy lifestyles and technologies around us, it’s even harder. And the draw to put these more intentional tasks on autopilot is always there.

Entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate. If you get to the point where you can put everything on autopilot, then congratulations. Your business doesn’t need you to be present anymore, and you can running a company from the beach. 

But until that happens, we have to make conscious decisions about what we can do automatically and without much thought and what we need to put our full attention on. You’re doing yourself and others a disservice if you put too much of yourself and your work on autopilot.