Doing awesome work like running your own business comes with a lot of necessary, but super annoying, evils.
When you’re working for someone else, you don’t have to worry about management, finances, marketing, and all that. You just did your creative job and the little bit of admin and upkeep that came with it.
But when you’re a creative running the whole show, there are a lot of uncreative, and frankly REALLY boring, things you have to bother yourself with.
But totally worth it in the grand scheme of things, right?!
So that’s why we need to go Full Court Mary Poppins on that part of running your own business: in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!
So we take that fun…amplify it…and streamline the rest! 🤓
Okay, Julie Andrews only sang about the first part, and I sing the rest, but it’s still good advice.
[bctt tweet=”In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. So we take that fun, amplify it, and streamline the rest!” username=”thatbberg”]
Automating tasks lets you basically outsource the stuff you don’t wanna do but has to get done somehow.
And once task automation frees up that time, you get to spend it however you choose! Get ahead on tomorrow’s to-do list, take a walk, take a nap, the point is it’s up to you! 🙌
So today, I’m laying out all the parts of online business that make me cranky (because they suck), and how task automation can save you that crankiness!
Why You Should Care About Automating Tasks
5 Crank-Inducing To-Dos Task Automation Can Do For You
1. Solve Inbox Overload
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like your inbox will be the cause of an eventual meltdown.
Are you sitting in a room alone with your hand raised right now? Me too.
I used to think email was the bane of my productivity.
For awhile, a while even the main thing holding me back from starting a business. I had so many emails from a slightly monetized blog, that it was basically its own side hustle in terms of time commitment. I couldn’t imagine the amount of email a real side hustle would involve.
I’ve yet to meet an entrepreneur or modern worker who doesn’t EVER struggle with spending too much time on email. As evidence, I present the following:
- How To Get to Inbox Zero By Faking Your Own Death
- 11 Awkward Things About Email
- These Screenshots of Unread Emails Will Fill You With Horror
The struggle is real for all of us, CLEARLY.
On one hand, it takes forever.
There’s going through your inbox, foldering and archiving things, reading, clicking, replying, etc. And that doesn’t even cover the list of new email conversations you have to send out yourself.
Double yikes. 😳 😳
But on the other hand, it’s still crucial for most jobs…some of the most important communication for your job will happen over email.
It’s one of the biggest necessary evils for almost anyone who works and communicates online.
You can’t cut it out completely, so you’ve just gotta make your processes as efficient as possible.
With task automation like Gmail filters, automatic replies, and more, you can create processes so that:
- You only receive emails you actually want to read
- Important messages don’t get drowned out by marketing messages and newsletters
- New email notifications don’t distract your from profitable work all day
- Contacts that actually matter to you hear from you sooner
Clearly, it’s very, very awesome.
[bctt tweet=”Email is an evil but necessary time suck. Automation is one way you can make it suck a little less.” username=”thatbberg”]
Recommended: 17 Steps to an Intensely Satisfying Digital Declutter
2. Make Social Media More Social (and Less Spammy)
Now, social media automation is a tricky thing. It’s a super delicate balance of embracing streamlining robots and human friendliness (luckily, those are both strengths of mine!).
Obviously, you have to actually engage and be present and human and…ya know, social. Using social media to build relationships requires engaging with other people instead of waiting for them to talk to you.
And that, you should always, always, ALWAYS do yourself.
You can’t automate relationships.
Let me say that with a little more emphasis…
YOU 👏 CAN’T👏 AUTOMATE 👏 RELATIONSHIPS. 👏
But on the other hand, you also have to promote your content AND curate expert content AND follow influencers AND audience members AND post regularly on multiple networks. Basically, there’s a whole lot of other stuff.
And that ish takes forevvver.
So it’s hard to find the right combo of being engaging and being productive, of interacting and automating.
But figure out where that line is for yourself because straddling it is key to getting value from social media without it becoming a huge time suck.
You need to automate and streamline the impersonal of social media. That way you can spend more time on those parts that need a human touch – your uniqueness and personality.
The stuff that apps and bots can’t handle.
I like to say that automation with social media starts the conversations you, then you go in and continue them once automated posts get a response. For example, I use CoSchedule and SmarterQueue to schedule and automate social media content in advance.
But I still handwrite each post…there’s no robot-written content there! And anyone who replies or retweets or otherwise engages with that scheduled content then gets a personal checkout from me. 💁🏻
[bctt tweet=”Automate and streamline the impersonal parts of social media management to spend more time on the parts that need a human touch” username=”thatbberg”]
3. Cross “Write To-Do List” Off Your To-Do List
Your to-do list is one of the most important assets as a productive unicorn.
It’s the equivalent of sheet music to an orchestra. A pattern to a seamstress. A recipe for a chef.
It’s your game plan for success. 🙌
But…it’s also a BIG time waster – both in terms of how much time it wastes AND how important that time is.
It’s been proven over and over again that how you start your morning sets the mood for the day ahead. So if you start out frazzled and unfocused, without knowing what you need to work on and when, you’ll stay frazzled and unfocused all day, my friend.
On the other end of the spectrum, you could start each day by planning things out immediately when you wake up, or even the night before, to gain clarity as soon as possible.
But in that case, we usually spend insane amounts of time planning out our to-do lists, taking time away from completing those tasks.
Womp, womp, womppppp…
I used to spend half an hour each morning putting together my to-do list. Then I realized that that added up to almost 3 hours each week that I wasn’t crossing things off my to-do list.
So instead, thanks to the task automation tricks I discuss below, now I can put together a clear and focused game plan for the day in 5 minutes or less.
Here’s what you can automate in your to-do list, as long as you’re using a digital task manager like Todoist, Trello, or Asana:
- When you flag or star an important email, automatically create a to-do to reply to or deal with it.
- Create recurring tasks for almost-daily work and habits like checking email, updating your CRM, and editing new writing assignments.
- Use tools like IFTTT and Zapier to create chain reactions between apps, so that you can automatically create to-dos when things happen in the other tools you use, like WordPress, social media, and Slack.
[bctt tweet=”Automation can help you cross ‘write to-do list’ off your to-do list…for good” username=”thatbberg”]
4. Create More Time to Create More Content
For most business owners, marketers, and content creators finding a balance between creating content and the rest of our biz can be…not easy.
It pulls us away from other marketing activities (like actually USING that content), along with the rest of your job. But to get results from content marketing, you do need to have a decent amount of it.
You don’t want too spend too much time managing content marketing, but you can’t ignore the task completely. After all, good unicorn content can serve as your business’s sales team, HR manager, customer support team, and more.
It’s like your to-do list: a time-suck to create, but powerful once it’s created.
So how do you improve the content creation process?
If you’ve been paying attention to this post, you know…
Say it with me, kids…AUTOMATION! 🙌
Automation is perfect to incorporate into content creation because it’s a less creative process than you might think.
Theoretically, you want it to be all about the content.
But in reality, content marketing also means doing content research, moderating blog post comments, formatting and maintaining emails, social media promotion, yada yada yada.
And that stuff is perfect to automate, so you can spend more time and energy on actually creating content.
There are two main categories of blog automation, in my book:
- Automating maintenance tasks
- Automating content promotion
Most people hate on the concept of automation in content, assuming we’re talking about actually automating creating content, but not at all! (Not me, at least!)
When you look at streamlining everything but the real writing, you end up with more time to write and can really focus on it when you do.
And that’s just lovely. 😍
[bctt tweet=”Using automation in your content creation process doesn’t replace writing, it makes MORE time for it 📝” username=”thatbberg”]
5. Make Your Calendar Run Super Seamlessly
This one’s REALLY like building your own personal assistant to manage your calendar and book your meetings for you.
Because let’s be real…most of us don’t have enough control over our calendars. You either don’t have any boundaries or don’t enforce them, and clients, coworkers, or friends can demand your time whenever they want to.
Why do we just let that happen?
Sure, giving your colleagues and friends scheduling flexibility is great in theory, but in reality, it sucks. For one, you still don’t have the control over your time that you wanted.
Plus, it usually turns out more like this:
You: Awesome! Let’s meet! When are you free?
Them: How about Tuesday at 2?
You: I have another meeting then. How about 3?
Them: Oh, I’m busy then. How about Wednesday?
You: I’m booked up Wednesday. What does next week look like?
And then it goes on, and on, and on…
While you’re trying to make things convenient by leaving things open-ended, all that back-and-forth ends up creating more work for both yourself and whomever you’re meeting with. Why would you do that?!
[bctt tweet=”Use appointment-setting software to control your schedule, set boundaries around meetings, and live your best life a little easier 😎” username=”thatbberg”]
Instead, task automation tools like appointment setting software can help you control your schedule.
Scheduling through a tool makes it easier (necessary, even!) to set and enforce limits with your schedule, save time on planning and setting appointments, and help you build out your ideal workday so you can go on livin’ your best life. 💁🏻
If you’re living in the “before” picture right now, here’s a sneak peek at the “after:”
- Have set blocks of time set aside to have meetings and calls.
- Give clients limits and options to choose from.
- Let them seamlessly book appointments with you on their own.
- Build in time for habits and hobbies regularly to FINALLY live that ideal routine.
- Sync all your calendars, to-do list tasks, and projects in one place.
And automation is the time machine that takes you there! My favorite appointment setting tool is Acuity, but here are a bunch of other options.
Let Task Automation Save Your Day
There’s no reason you need to manually complete every little teeny tiny to-do on your to-do list. Robots are smart, technology is smart, but you’re even smarter. So save the hardest and most strategic work for yourself and use task automation to streamline everything else.
- Workflow Automation vs Scheduling: Best Ways to Become a Time Lord
- Do Your Thing: Time Management Systems for Entrepreneurs Who Hate Systems
- The Human’s Guide to Using Social Media Automation (and Staying Human)