8 Universal Automation Skills That Will Help You Succeed in Any Career

There’s only so many hours in a day, so automating some tasks will free up time for others.

The ability to pass tasks onto an automated program can help you advance your career by letting you focus your creative energy elsewhere.

Here are eight great ways to do that.

1. Automate Your Email

Nowadays, email is the easiest way to connect with other people. It’s quick, simple and free, which means your inbox is probably brimming with messages that need to be answered.

More than likely, a few of those emails can be answered with the same reply. Instead of copying and re-pasting your response — or even retyping it — automate your responses.

If you use Gmail, you can set up canned responses to make answering emails faster. They are easy to set up and can be used to create forms, reminders, letters or progress reports, in addition to regular responses.

If your primary email service is Outlook, you can set up message templates. With this program, you have the ability to change or add new information before sending the email if that is necessary.

Another way to help reduce the amount of time spent answering your emails is to set up your inbox so the priority emails are on top.

If you get a lot of messages throughout the day but only a few of them need to be dealt with immediately, don’t waste your time searching your inbox, have them upfront and easy to access. You can even create rules and folders for emails with specific topics or from certain senders so you know exactly where they are.

2. Automate Your Social Media

Marketing should be a top priority, which means you spend time throughout the day posting on social media sites.

There’s no doubt you are probably posting more than once a day, which means you have to keep track of the time and decide what you’re going to put up on your Twitter or Facebook page. This can be incredibly time-consuming. Automating this process will free up your time for other tasks.

Apps such as Hootsuite allow you to schedule posts for more than one site.

Instead of making time throughout the day for your social media posts, you can block out time once a day to schedule for the entire day or the week — whatever works best for you. Then, you can move onto other tasks and let the social media automation apps do their work.

3. Automate Sales and Marketing

In addition to social media, you probably have other services you use to market to current and potential customers, whether that is through emails or follow-up calls. No matter which one you use, there is a way to automate the process so you don’t have to spend hours taking care of it yourself.

Getting in touch with contacts through a power dialer like PhoneBurner is a great way to accelerate sales calls and close more deals. This service eliminates the need to repeat yourself over and over when leaving voicemails for customers. It also gives you the option to send emails.

If sending emails is your preferred method of follow-up contact, you can automate that through Infusionsoft or even MailChimp. After setting up a set of defined rules and expectations, both of these apps take over and send emails to clients with your message so you don’t have to.

4. Automate Your Schedule

You’re probably so busy you are scheduling meetings and other appointments throughout your day — and probably not always when you’re at your desk.

This can make it confusing and difficult to remember when you are available and when your next meeting is. Having one place to take care of your scheduling needs, such as the app ScheduleOnce, could free up some of your time and keep your calendar organized.

You can also use apps to schedule meetings without making phone calls or sending emails, both tasks that can eat up a lot of valuable time.

Using Calendly, you can post the times you are available, and then your contacts can pick from there the times that work best for them. You can either send your calendar link in an email or post it on your website.

5. Automate Your Customer Support

While it’s nice to think you’ll always be able to personally respond to your customers’ questions, at some point your business is probably going to grow larger than that. It will become too time-consuming to deal with every single inquiry, but it’s a necessity.

Integrating a ticket system will put customers’ questions in one central location so the appropriate employee can answer them in order.

Groove is a program that can help you with this transition. You might also consider using Zapier, which can be used with other systems you already have to streamline the process even further.

6. Automate Your Billing

Gathering account information and figuring out monthly bills can take up incredible amounts of time. If you have customers or clients who are billed the same amount for services every month, then it’s worth your time to automate this process.

Using a program such as Xero can ensure emails and invoices are sent out automatically every month.

If your customers want to be able to pay their bills with a credit card every month, you can automate that process as well.

For recurring payments, consider using PayPal to charge your customers’ cards every month. This will save you the time and effort of taking care of these payments on your own.

7. Automate Your Reporting

As a business, you want to know exactly how things are going. From marketing to sales to employees, it’s important to have the numbers and reports that give you insight into how smoothly your business is running.

Figure out exactly what types of reports you want to automate, then ask your IT department or do an online search to find out if there’s a way it can be automated. Google Sheets might be one tool that can help.

This will decrease the amount of time you spend each month creating and going through reports to find the answers you’re looking for about your company.

8. Automate Filling Out Online Forms

Whether you're setting up a new account or ordering products, it can be time-consuming to fill out your information every time you establish a new vendor. Using apps such as RoboForm will store this information on your computer so one click of a button will fill out a form.

In addition to RoboForm, there are other apps and programs that can be used to automatically fill out online forms and store passwords for the various sites you access daily. Find the one that works best for you!

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Owning a business means your days are busy and filled with important meetings and projects.

There are only so many hours in a day that you can get these accomplished, so you shouldn’t be wasting that precious time on tasks that can be automated.

Free up part of your day by letting your computer do the work for you. Any company you work for now or in the future is sure to find your automation skills useful.

About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a productivity writer and self-improvement blogger. You can find her work on The Huffington Post, MakeUseOf, Tiny Buddha and The Muse.