One of my goals for the current 12 Week Year I’m doing is to automate more. I know I do a lot of things manually, and there are lots of things that I could be doing better. At the very least, there I are things I don’t need to be doing manually. In my master mind group a few weeks ago, one of the members said this to me: “I wonder what you’d be able to do if you had less to do.” So my homework was to make a list of all the things I could automate or outsource. It was a great exercise, and I learned a lot about my process.
I Can Outsource A Lot More Than I Can Automate
Perhaps this is due to a lack of creativity or knowledge (or budget), but I have the feeling there are a lot of tasks in my day-to-day that can’t be automated. That doesn’t mean I have to do them…someone else can do them. But knowing that distinction is important for me, so I don’t spin my wheels evaluating automation processes instead of evaluating a VA.
A great example is my podcast. Here are a few things I intend to outsource:
- Add the sponsor spots to the midroll
- Gather the show notes
- Find the pull quotes
- Make the images
And the maybes:
- Upload audio to Libsyn
- Make an audiogram
- Schedule the social media
- Schedule the post
Similarly, I can outsource certain aspects of course creation, like artwork, putting the posts together in WordPress, and more. But, that’s not automation. So…
What Can I Automate?
I’ve determined that anything that requires multiple apps to talk to each other can be automated. I’m already doing things like creating a show notes doc when someone schedules a podcast interview (Calendly -> Evernote), and automatically scheduling YouTube Videos on Social Pilot. I’m still learning the ins and outs of some tools (both of the aforementioned are done with Zapier), but I’m getting better. Some of the tools I’m using more:
As mentioned, Zapier is an integral part to my automation goal. It works with so many other things, and lots of WordPress plugin developers integrate with it. They also support writing Code directly into an automation, if I want.
One place Zapier falls short is device automations, like iOS, Alexa, and Android. This is where IFTTT shines. I’m using a combo of Zapier and IFTTT to do things online and then send reminders to my phone. For example, when I scan a business card into Evernote, I get a reminder 3 days later to follow-up with the person.
TextExpander is a cross platform app that replaces text snippets. It allows me to compose emails from 3 characters, and makes sure I never typo a URL. It also works with with some variables/scripting languages to do some truly cool things.
Today is iOS 12 day, and the biggest feature by far is Siri Shortcuts. There are 2 resources I plan on consuming this week to help me really understand and make the most out of it: The MacStories iOS 12 Review ebook, and the Siri Shortcuts Field Guide online course. Both are created by podcasters I trust. And the MacStories iOS review is my favorite thing to read around this time each year.
Hazel is an interesting Mac app that lets you automate folder actions. I haven’t dug deep into it yet, but it seems like a good way to automate certain types of backups, Dropbox, and more. I’m hoping that I can use Hazel on my PC through a networked drive.
The Automators Podcast
I’m also listening to a relatively new podcast called Automators. The hosts tackle a new automation topic each show, and it’s fantastic for learning about new tools and generating ideas.
What Are You Automating?
I’d love to know what you’re automating. Do you have a tool you love or an automation you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments!