A show of hands: Who here spends more time clearing their inboxes, scheduling appointments, and drafting invoices than actual important work?
We spend each day crossing task after task from our to-do list, only to realize we haven't gotten much done after all. To make matters more complicated, we feel tired, drained, and unwilling to work on the more important tasks.
Such tasks are often labeled as "busy work" and it creates this mental illusion that you're busy, you have a lot on your plate, and you should get them done right away. But what if you could get these busy tasks out of the way and spend your precious time and focus power on work that truly matters?
One strategy we highly recommend is to automate draining and time-consuming tasks.
"Automation" simply means converting a manual process into an automatic operation, and what makes this a great idea is that the tools you need to automate are right under your fingertips. You can easily automate busy work to make room for high-priority tasks that need your full attention and commitment.
In today's post, we share 10 time-consuming tasks and suggestions on how to automate, so your team can save more time and get the most important work done.
1. Send daily and/or weekly project updates.
Instead of drafting a daily or weekly progress report on Microsoft Word, you can utilize your project management tool's notification system to send a report on a daily or weekly basis to your team.
On TeamGantt, our simple daily project notifications inform you and your team what has been completed, the day's progress, and what's coming up next. You can configure the settings under account settings.
2. Request a progress report.
Got a task that needs to move forward? You can easily request a progress report on a weekly or monthly basis.
Boomerang, a Gmail plugin, allows you to schedule email reminders and important messages with just a click of a button. It's a nifty tool to schedule recurring progress reports from your teammates.
On TeamGantt, we take it a step further by removing email from the equation. The request a progress update feature allows you to send a quick email to any member assigned to a task for an update.
3. Welcome potential customers.
Personal and authentic connection is key to winning the hearts of your customers. What better way to set such a first impression as to welcome your potential customers with a warm hello?
We use Intercom to set up an automatic welcome message to appear when a user first signs up for a free trial on TeamGantt. It's a great way to let our customers know that we are around to help whenever they have questions or concerns with the app.
4. Send out marketing messages.
Marketing is essentially communicating what your product can do and how it can improve your customers' lives. Sending regular updates on what's in store is a great way to build a tight-knit relationship with your customers.
But drafting and sending marketing messages to a 1000-user list can be extremely time-consuming, which is why we recommend email marketing software to help you easily design your emails, schedule them, and bulk send them to everyone on your list. Drip, Mailchimp, and even Intercom are great choices for this purpose.
Tip: While we encourage automating scheduling and publishing your marketing messages, the content should come straight from you and your team.
As mentioned earlier, you want to build a strong relationship with your customers, and that means treating them like intelligent human beings. People can sense laziness an email away, and so it's important to be as truthful and authentic as possible, even if that means spending an hour or two drafting the best email.
5. Gather feature requests from your customers.
If you've just released a new app or product, it helps to provide a forum or space where customers can send feature requests and suggestions to help you improve.
We turn to good ol' Intercom and Help Scout for this purpose. We use tags to indicate if a customer has a feature request they'd like us to consider. Once we have a handful of these requests submitted, we use the tags to organize all of the features according to most requested.
6. Publish social media messages to all of your company channels
Posting social media updates isn't as simple as writing a couple of words and sending it off with a link. Each platform encourages a specific type of layout that is most effective in getting the message out to your audience.
Now put this on top of posting to 3-4 social media channels, and you've got a time sucker that's bound to leave you feeling exhausted.
Try using Buffer to schedule and publish your messages to all of your company channels instead. It's what we use to schedule our Twitter and LinkedIn updates, all while allowing us to preview posts before publishing them.
Bonus: Buffer's brother Pablo is a great tool to create images that are just the right dimensions and look-and-feel for a specific purpose or platform.
7. Perform routine back ups of your data.
Do you perform routine backups of your data? It's a crucial process that can save you plenty of time and agony in case breaches of security occur or an accidental hit of the Delete button causes you to delete important information—like photos of your baby niece's birthday.
Automation master Zapier put together this massive list of apps to backup your data to as well as how to recover deleted data. If you're a user, you'll also find zaps that you can implement to automate the entire process.
8. Set up recurring invoices.
If you are a freelancer or a small agency, you probably spend a good portion of your time drafting and sending invoices to your clients.
Duplicating and quickly editing the dates and invoice IDs can eat up plenty of your billable time. Consider setting up recurring invoices where you can generate and schedule invoices to be sent on a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly basis. Most invoicing software allow you to create invoice templates and schedule these to be sent out on a specific date and time.
9. Schedule appointments or calls.
Spending too much time deciding when's the best time to schedule an appointment?
For meetings and customer calls, we use Calendly to handle all of our scheduling. What makes it a fantastic app is that it lets customers choose the best dates and time periods, saving us the trouble of guessing when he or she would want to get on the phone with us. This way, you save plenty of time and can focus on what's most important—converting leads and earning more money.
10. Customize canned responses to emails and conversations.
Working on the support team, I usually receive 5-7 questions of the same topic each day. To save time from typing the same response, I use and customize saved replies on both our support channels.
Customization is extremely important in this equation, since I'm speaking to actual people in need of help. Once the saved reply is revised and that it addresses the customer personally, I then send it out, saving myself 3-4 seconds typing the same message over and over.
The possibilities don't stop here. You can make a full list of tasks that take up too much time to do, and automate them to save more time, more money, and get the most important things done.