Automate the boring stuff.

Tips and tools to help you ditch the dull admin and get back to the work you love.

Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist, remarked on change saying Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, Weve always done it this way Its this dangerous tendency to stick to the norm and settle into the same old processes that holds businesses back.

I was lucky to attend the inaugural Pixel Pioneers conference, in Bristol this summer. Inspired by Jess Roses talk on automation for developers, Id like to share some simple ways that you can automate the boring stuff and spend more time on the work you love.

With automation, it can be hard to decide where to start and if its really going to be worth the effort. So, first start by asking yourself, do you:

  1. Complete any series of tasks more than once a week?
  2. Manually input and analyse data?
  3. Spend time tracking billable hours that could be better spent elsewhere?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then its worth seriously looking into automation as a way to remove barriers and achieve more each day. A few areas that you can start to automate include:

  • Report creation and analytics
  • Customer support 
  • Marketing 

But saving time isnt the only reason to automate.

You could take the time to automate each of these tasks, but how do you know if it will be worth the investment. On an individual basis its easy to come to the conclusion that automation might not be worth the time. But when you take other benefits like shared resource, reduced errors and new learning into account you stand to gain much more. 

Human error - I think youll agree that humans just arent good at repeating mundane tasks while maintaining the same level of accuracy. By automating key workflows you can preserve a high quality output and spend more time on the work you enjoy. 

Sharing is caring - Once a task has been automated, you can share the solution with others. This means that even if your solution is only used by 10 other people, thats 10x the time saved. 

Learn to grow - By analysing a process in depth as part of the automation process you can uncover ideas for improving processes or services that wouldn't have been recognised if youd followed business-as-usual process.

Here are some simple tools to get you started:

Buffer

Buffer

buffer.com

While wed never advocate automating interactions with your customers. Buffer is great for automagically sharing content with your followers. They also share great advice on how to cut your sharing time in half and get the best out of social media automation. 

IFTTT

IFTTT

ifttt.com

This free tool can be used to create recipes that perform specific actions based on predefined triggers. For example, you can create a recipe that automatically adds contact information from email into an Excel spreadsheet. Check out this handy list of functions to get you started. 



Gmail

Gmail canned responses

google.com/gmail

This is a simple one that can help you keep on top of your inbox. Follow this step by step guide to set up email templates with gmail. 

Dragon Dictate

Dragon Dictate

nuance.co.uk/dragon

Stop typing, start recording. Take back time spent typing up meeting notes by using a tool like Dragon Dictate to automatically record and take down all the details for you. 

Slack

Slack

slack.com

According to a company survey, Slack users saw 48.6% fewer internal emails and held 25.1% fewer meetings after installing and using the app, leading to a 32% overall increase in productivity

Teamed with some brilliant bots like Polly, Standuply or Howdy! the possibilities for optimising team productivity are endless.

Are there more tools that you use to automate? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments below!

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