I Can’t Believe How Quickly Home Automation Has Changed My Life (Amazon Echo Alexa, Hue Light Bulbs, and the Power of Routine)

I can bathe my apartment in green light whenever I want. I don’t ever do it, but it’s nice to have the option. This is (sadly) not my lamp.

Getting up early or getting into a regular sleeping pattern has never been easy for me. But it just got a lot easier.

Since I moved back to Seattle after a failed but worthwhile experiment to be a nomad, I’ve been on a mission. I have full control over my environment and I’m making it as friendly as possible to my goals. A big reason why I decided to stop traveling and come back in Seattle is because I began to feel out of control. I didn’t have a home, a place I could go to, completely unwind, and be unabashedly introverted for as long as I wanted. 

It didn’t take me long to make what some might say are “dumb, overpriced purchases.” I’ve bought 7 light bulbs that cost $50 a piece. Yeah, that’s $350 for some light bulbs… I’ve also bought 3 Amazon Echoes and a Hue Smartbridge. All in all, I’ve paid more than $500+ to be able to automate my apartment lighting. And it’s been one of the best investments I’ve ever made!

At 9 PM: the temperature drops to 66 degrees and the lights begin to dim (all of them!). The combination of these two things makes me more willing to go to bed at around midnight.

At 8:30 AM: the temperature crawls back up to 70 to 73 degrees and the lights begin to fade in like a sunrise.

At 9 AM: the lights reach full brightness and a song plays on my three Echo speakers. 

Because I can automate just about everything now, I can set up an environment that practically gets in and out of bed for me. And that’s fine with me. Trust me, I’ve tried willpower. But there’s always that one night that I stay up late playing games or watching TV. Or that one morning in which my bed is criminally cozy. It takes a lot of effort to set up a stable sleep routine, and only one bad day to ruin it.

Small Environmental Factors Are… HUGE?

At midnight, it’s cold and dark in my apartment. That’s exactly how I like it when I sleep!

At 9 AM, it’s warm and bright in my apartment. That’s exactly how I like it when I wake up!

Just this small environmental change has allowed me to have the most stable sleep schedule I’ve had in years, and the most stable sleep schedule I’ve probably ever had since having complete freedom and control over my time. It’s not unrelated to a mini habit—a small environmental change can be the nudge you need to make the right choice.

The 9 to 5 Schedule

Most of the world operates on the 9 to 5 schedule, and while many people envy my freedom, I envy their structure. It’s actually nice to have to get up at a consistent time every day. It puts your body in a groove that you won’t understand unless you’ve been out of it before.

I realize that many of you reading this might not have the same sleep routine issues as I do, but the concept here is broader than just sleep. Think about your environment, and make as many small changes to it as possible to “roll out the red carpet” in the direction you want your life to go.

If you come to a fork in the road, and one of the roads has fewer potholes and a nicer view, you’re going to take that road more often than not. It’s the same for your life. What behaviors does your environment covertly ask you to take? 

Ideas: Small Environmental Changes for Oversized Returns

When it comes to behaviors, I prefer thinking about return on invested energy and/or time. Given that we all have limited time and energy each day, there are some relative bargains and ripoffs with how we choose to use it. Facebook is a great example of a ripoff, because you can spend hours on it, but the reward for doing it is small. Mini habits are always a bargain because they cost so little of your time and energy and can return a life-changing result.

Environmental changes are almost always of the extreme bargain variety. This is because an environment change—such as changing your apartment lighting to be automated—are one-time changes that can benefit you for years. The same goes for buying and reading great books (like these!), getting a more ergonomic desk setup, buying a quality mattress, and so on. Here are some environmental changes you can consider implementing in your life…

Home Automation: It’s expensive to set up at first, but the benefits can be far greater than “You can turn your lights on with your voice? That’s cool.”

Improved lighting: Your home or work lightning can have a big impact on your mood and productivity. There are extensive articles out there on ideal lighting (and no, it doesn’t have to be automated!). Take a moment to consider if your lighting is the right color and brightness for your goals.

Reading spot: Do you have a great spot to read with comfortable seating? If not, that might be a deterrent to reading. Reading good books will make you better in multiple ways, so it’s worth thinking about.

Gym clothes: Do you have to solve a Rubik’s Cube in order to access your gym clothes, or are they out in the open, coaxing you to go to the gym? Most likely, it’s somewhere between the two, but the more accessible you can make it, the more likely you are to work out. I’ve had the problem of having too few gym clothes, so that I feel like I have to be washing my clothes every minute or “conserving” my gym trips. That’s not good, and it’s wholly an environmental problem that’s very easy to fix (buy more gym clothes, buy gym clothes you like, etc). 

Snacks: It’s snack time. What’s available? What’s not available? What’s the easiest thing for you to grab and eat? The answer to those questions will affect your snack habits and waistline. I currently get organic meal delivery for this reason, and I’ll talk more about that in a later article.

Your home as a whole: how do you feel when you walk into your house or apartment? Does it feel like home, or is it lame? I’m currently planning to buy things like ART and PLANTS and ACCENT LIGHTING for my apartment, which would shock anyone who’s known me. I’ve never cared about that stuff, but I’ve realized that “that stuff” can create a better environment, so now I’m all in!

CATS: Do you own a cat? If not, get one immediately. Pets are a significant and often cute part of any environment they inhabit. I want a cat, a hypoallergenic cat. Probably a Siberian (pictured below). Pets have been shown to reduce stress and make us happier! Now, how can I automate the litter box? In all seriousness, I will very likely own a cat before 2019. Then every article I write will feature pictures of said cat. You’re welcome in advance!

I need one. But it’s like willingly marrying a litter box for 20 years.


If there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s to realize that Cats are man’s best friend systemization and automation are incredibly valuable when they can effortlessly and automatically create a better environment for you. The futuristic smart home can be a very good thing! My friend thinks I’m being lazy for not wanting to flip a light switch, but it’s more than that. It’s waking up to light and warmth and rap music, the way my body was designed to wake up!

If there’s another thing to take away, it’s that Cats make about 100 different sounds small environmental changes are well worth thinking about and doing. They sometimes require a lot of time, money, and effort to set up, but they can benefit you for a lifetime!

(photos by Montag007 and cuttlefish)

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