Automations. You’ve heard the buzz about it, you know it’s something you probably should be doing. But what exactly is it, and how the heck do you do it?!
In short, automation is a term for technology applications where human input is minimised.
Basically, the machines are taking over!!
However, unlike the terrifying prospect of robots taking over the world (I’m visualising Terminator and iRobot right now!), the kind of automation we’re talking about here will do nothing but enhance and improve your life and business.
With so many things to think about and tasks to do on a daily basis, wouldn’t it be the dream if half of those things just magically happened without any thought?!
Here are our top 5 automations that you can action today to get started!
1. Keyboard Shortcuts
If you were to add up how much time in a day you collectively spend typing out your name, your web address, your passwords, your email sign-offs…! You would be surprised how much time you can save yourself, by simply taking 30 minutes to set up some keyboard shortcuts for your everyday use!
For instance, as a blog writer and social media content creator Virtual Assistant, I have to type out my client’s web address and social handle several times a day. So I enhanced my time by creating the following shortcuts (as an example)
wmfa = http://www.myfreelanceadmin.com
myfa = My Freelance Admin
This also applies to using your keyboard rather than your mouse to action things. For example, opening a new webpage or transitioning quickly between computer programs. Or finding out the quick add function for your favourite to-do list application.
Side note: my favourite is TickTick! With a quick Shift+Cmd+Space, I can add any to-do’s that infiltrate my brain at any moment. Without deviating from what I’m focused on at that moment, or breaking my flow.
It may not seem like a huge amount of time to be saved, but if you add it up collectively over the course of a year, the results are astounding!
A study by Brainscape showed that on average we waste 64 hours a year by not using keyboard shortcuts for Mac, PC, spreadsheets, Gmail, and web browsers.
64 hours a year!!
This equates to …… wait for it …….
8 WORKING DAYS PER YEAR!
So I would say that is half an hour well invested, to write down and try to memorise some handy shortcuts!
2. Email Nurturing Sequences
Any time someone subscribes to your mailing list via your website or social media, we can help you to set up an automatic sequence of emails designed to build their customer journey with you.
Set to daily, or every 3 days, or once a week, it can be at any interval you choose to keep your clients interested in what you have to say and lead them towards what you have to offer. Having the customer journey prebuilt and ready to go gives you the peace of mind that they will be taken care of without you having to manually do anything!
We have VAs that work regularly within software such as Mailchimp, MailerLite and SendinBlue. Setting up nurturing sequences is one of our most popular requests!
3. Utilising Zapier or other automation websites to connect your software and apps
Scenario – you want to create a spreadsheet with all of your client bookings in one place so you can easily keep track of your work. Your current method is to enter the appointments into your Google Calendar, and then manually enter them into a spreadsheet with all the relevant info. Yawn.
Websites such as zapier.com , tray.io, workato.com can help you to automate your entire workflow.
Setting these up does take a little time and know-how however. So why not save yourself even more precious time by hiring one of our Virtual Assistants to put your workflow in place for you? All you need to provide are your passwords for each app, a detailed outline of what you wish to achieve from each action, and hey presto! With a touch of magic and the correct information, you’ll be all linked up in no time!
If your chosen software is equipped with an API, then you can set it up to communicate with almost every other app utilising API!
*API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.
4. Scheduling emails ahead of time
Let’s face it. If you’re an entrepreneur, or a person who works flexible hours, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to get all your work done within acceptable business hours. Sometimes you have to burn the midnight oil!
Thankfully, most email platforms now come with the ability to ‘schedule send’ your message. So you could potentially write and send a batch of emails at 2 am if needs be! With the scheduling option, you can set the email to send at a more acceptable hour, without having to set yourself any reminders to make sure it gets done.
Our favourite email platforms that have this facility are Gmail and Spark, which also has many other time-saving options – worth checking out if you spend a lot of time in your emails!
5. Setting up an automated appointment booking system
Your calendar can very quickly become a cause of stress if not properly managed. Appointments get missed, double-booked, and you start to feel a sense of dread when hearing the words ‘when are you free?’…..
One of the best methods to take control of your scheduling is to utilise a calendar booking system such as Calendly or Acuity Scheduling. With both, you can link up your existing calendar to the platform, whether it’s via Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook etc. Then when someone asks you the dreaded question above, you can send them your availability with one simple link. Easy!
With the free version of these apps they currently only have a one-way option for linking your calendar. However, we can help you to set up an automation that enables these apps to update automatically whenever you manually add a time block within your main calendar app.
This will save you having to update your booking system yourself, and again – saving you minutes of time every day and giving you peace of mind that everything is up-to-date!
Here is an example of a perfectly working appointment system, which just so happens to be for our Company Director, Rachael! If you’re ready to chat about how we can help you to set up these automations, or to discuss any other possible time-saving opportunities we can provide you with, book a 30-minute free discovery call today, or get in touch for further info.
Now to plan what to do with all the extra time …….!
Written by Debbie Watt