5 Easy Ways To Automate Your Small Business and Life
Automation has been integral to my career. In my digital marketing agency, I use my Mac’s automator actions to convert file types, quickly move files from my crowded desktop into my Evernote account, and batch resize pictures after an event for quick distribution. Automation has empowered my workflow and sanity, and it continues to “geek me out” – as I erase one mundane or just simply unnecessary-for-the-growth-of-my-company activity after another.
My latest automation discovery, FileThis Fetch, has given me accounting freedom by retrieving my bank account, utility, and even Amazon statements and importing them automatically into my Evernote account. You can’t imagine how much I dread searching for my statements, exporting them, and then importing them into Evernote for safekeeping. Better yet, you can’t imagine the energy I waste psyching myself up to do this monthly.
In celebration of this preservation of mental health, I share with you 5 easy steps for automating your life:
1. Spend a week getting automated. Think about, then write down the things that you do daily, monthly, and even annually. If your time can be better spent doing something else, search for an automation solution. Condition yourself to have this mentality of automation, and instead of whining when it’s time to do something again, think: what solution can I find to do this for me?
2. Explore some automator apps. At the top of my list are FileThisFetch; IFTTT, which lets you create custom automator actions; WappWolf, a tool that integrates Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and more to help automate these tools you probably already use; and CardMunch, the LinkedIn mobile app that lets you take pictures of business cards to import contacts, and sends a LinkedIn request to them (seriously!). Also, if you use a Mac, check out Veritrope.com for their great Apple automator resource directory and some AppleScripts that make automating your Mac folders and media easy as pie. Though I’m a Mac girl, I found an app called Do It Again by Spacetornado that can help my Windows brethren in their automation pursuits as well.
3. Spend another week on IFTTT. You just don’t know what you can do with this app! My favorite as a marketer is my social media automation workflow that distributes posts to over 9 social media channels, with tags that exclude the posts that don’t need to go where I don’t need them to go. Ooh, selective automation!
As a human, my favorites are my weather alerts delivered via SMS, since I forget to check the weather every day of my life and have ruined so many innocent shoes, and of course my Evernote automator actions. They have allowed me to save my Pinterest pins in an Evernote notebook, read my RSS posts in the place where I spend most of my time, and even republish the posts to my website and through social media. IFTTT allows you to create virtually any automator action you can think of, and it even showcases some great suggestions from users called “recipes” if you aren’t that imaginative. Automation is even for the unimaginative.
4. Get to know email filters. Using filters in your native email client or Gmail will automate your email workflow and clear clutter. I set my filters to forward the informational emails that I want to read later to my Evernote, but you can also use the folders in your email client if you prefer. I spend a few times a day breezing through these categorized emails and forego constant interruption throughout my day.
5. Find someone else to do it. Yes, that’s a form of automation as well. Train a virtual assistant to alleviate some of the stress that one of the free solutions doesn’t. TaskRabbit is a site that summons angels from heaven, or just really great experts in whatever it is that you need. TaskRabbits can answer your virtual phone line or do your grocery shopping; check out SayMMM.com, the cutest recipe/grocery list planner that integrates with Evernote, allowing you to share a grocery list with your TaskRabbit…automated! These super bunnies can also perform single projects like cleaning your closet or delivering a package.
I hope that this helps you become one step closer to enjoying your job again, gives you more time to spend with your friends and family, or simply reassures you that a little procrastination is okay – as long as you set an alarm to snap you out of it. Enjoy!
Originally written for Tech Cocktail, a literal "cocktail" of tech, startup, gadget, product and people news.