As a business owner or other professional in our modern age, you’ve probably heard the advice to “just automate that task.” Automation is often recommended as a great way to save time, be more productive, and get more done. But how and when should you take the time to set up and learn an automation tool for a task?
Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios.
Short Term Tasks
When you sit down at your desk to tackle a task, do you see a lot of repetition? For instance, do you need to send twenty of the same or similar emails? This could be a great time for a simple automation. You could set up a template for the email you need to send, which will only take a couple minutes. And now sending those emails could take a fraction of the time. What other tasks are you doing over and over? A quick automation is ideal for these short term tasks.
Long Term Tasks
Now let’s think about the tasks that you regularly return to. They may not be tedious tasks all in a row, but they may be things that come up again and again over time. Taking the time to automate them now can save time, in both creation and execution, in the long run. As an example, I have a templated email that I use to respond to people who were referred to us. The template itself is more comprehensive, and I can use parts of it or the whole, depending on the situation.
How To Automate
There are a number of ways you can go about creating automation. Here are some tools we have used and are generally happy with.
Think about things you tend to type over and over again. Would it be easier to hit a couple keys and see it appear? That’s where automation can help.
- TextExpander from Smile – We use this tool on our computers from any number of things, from our signature to our website address. It just saves that extra time and effort every time.
- SparkEmail – This is a great option for when you need to send or respond with the same email content often. It’s a great way to create and save templates.
- Canned Responses in GMail – If you uses GMail, Canned Responses will let you create templates. Other email services may have similar options
For Other Tasks
There may be other things you do over and over. Maybe it’s about images or videos or designs. Whatever you DO on your computer with repetition, you can create an automation for it.
- Mac Automator – If you’re working on a Mac, check out the Automator app. This lets you string a series of actions together. An example might be cropping or resizing a series of photos. Or apply a filter and save an image to a certain folder.
- Siri Workflows – We all work on our phones. If you use an iPhone, you can set up something similar. You can easily jump between apps and accomplish tasks more efficiently.
- Macros in Microsoft Office – Whether you are working in Excel or Word, you can create certain macros that save you time as you are processing or creating content.