When I was struggling to get my work done at my day job I realized I was creating a lot of things from scratch. Even though they were answers to the same questions or responses to the same problems. When we are busy or overburdened with work it is natural for us to stop trying to think of processes to make our work easier. We stop trying to work smart. And think we have to work harder.
Everyday, we have tasks we do exactly the same. We answer email. A new blog post needs to be created. Another blog post needs to be published. We need to promote our content. There are phone calls to be made. All of these things can be automated to some degree. And not by hiring a virtual assistant, though that could take a lot off your plate.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” — Bill Gates
Why Automate A Task?
The simple answer: to make life easier and to reduce the amount of time a task takes away from more important tasks.
Remember back to the 80/20 rule? It says 20% of our work produces 80% of our output. And only 80% of our work produced a mere 20% of output. This is where we cut down the 80% which does very little for us in productivity.
How the 80/20 Rule Increases Your Productivity and Multiplies Your Margin
This is One Productivity Tip You Cannot Live Without
Here are three ways I have automated work to reduce time and increase my productivity:
The key is being more productive and efficient. When I first started applying this principle to my day job I was only sending out canned responses to email replies. On any given day, I receive email with the same five to six questions, comments or concerns. I answer these almost always the same. And before, I was typing each email from scratch.
Then, I created canned responses (templates) to answer these emails. About a month ago, a coworker built upon my canned responses with pre-emptive canned emails. We are forced to make a lot of calls in our job. What he found was to get emails on those calls and start following up with emails.
I started to do the same thing and have had such a high response rate, it keeps my workload lighter. Most of these emails are for information updates which we can copy and paste directly into our workload software and then move out one, two, or three months. Which keeps us from having to follow up more often.
Another area I found templates being helpful is in document generation. I use this same idea for writing blog posts or responding to comments. At my day job, I created a document template for every possible letter I might have to send out. And when I find a new one, I created it and save it for use later.
And as I said, I do this same thing for comments or responses on blog posts. As well as my email updates for blog posts. I have a template I used for everything. This way I can focus on the content more and the structure less. It is all pre-planned.
Note Taking and Record Keeping
The last area I have reduced a lot of wasted time is in my note-taking and record keeping. With my day job we note everything we do from email, phone calls, evaluations, and conversation with management. And once again, I have a template for all of these notes. When I complete one task and have to note it, now I am adding only minimal info.
Regarding record keeping, we have a program at work where we scan all of our documents into and keep the bulk of our work. I have started to do this at home. When I receive a bill, I snap a picture and upload it to Google Drive, DropBox, or Evernote. This way I have a quick reference resource for everything.
Where to Start?
The key now is to get started. However, building a system for efficiency can take time up front. And if you are like I was, I didn’t really have the time to build a system in full. I ended up doing a review during one day of work. I kept track of everything I did. Then I found what items were bogging me down and started to create a system a day for each item.
The first day, I started with the templates for note taking. The second day, I started saving my response emails and then simplified them to fit most situations. And overtime, I have added to those templates. Then I started saving the templates for documents.
After a couple of weeks, I had saved the majority templates. And was using them everyday to complete so much work. And I was starting to see margin in my workflow. The effects were almost instantaneous. The first week was rough, but now, on most days, I complete my work ahead of time.
Are You Still Struggling with Productivity?
Over the last few weeks, and for the coming weeks, I am working my way through a series of posts on productivity tips. You can find my past posts in this series:
If you missed my last post, 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Breaks, check it out here:
I shared three ways I have automated my work product, do these sound like they could be helpful for you? Are there ways you have automated your work? Share them in the responses below.