by Jim Martin
Time is a precious asset. You need to prioritize and make cuts wherever possible. However, there are ways to save time without actually skipping any important items on your list. Here are some common time wasting tasks that you can easily automate to improve efficiency.
Sorting Emails. As one of the best ways for communicating with customers, potential clients, partners and anyone else, email often becomes one of your most time consuming daily tasks. Before you respond to emails, you need to organize them. Some require an immediate response, while others can wait. You might want to focus on emails related to one specific project at a time. Sorting situations are perfect for labeled folders. Many email platforms allow users to automatically sort emails into folders. For example, weekly newsletters can go into one folder while those from team members can go into a separate folder for more work related items.
Responding to Emails. Many emails may require similar responses. For example, you might send weekly reminders to team members or pitches to different potential clients. You can save time using canned responses in Gmail or email templates in Outlook.
Posting to Social Media. Social media can be another time wasting task. While you must check in on those platforms to respond to relevant messages or mentions, other activity can be automated. When posting general updates, links or similar content, scheduling apps like Buffer and Hootsuite can save time by scheduling posts throughout the day or week. Why jump back and forth between sites and apps when you can manage it all from one dashboard. Blogging platforms like WordPress and ecommerce sites like Etsy offer options to automatically post new links or products to various social media sites.
Project Management. Project management can’t be automated fully, but tools like Do can automate parts of the project management process. Do lets you create different tasks within a project and assign them to different team members, who can then update you on their progress within the app. Instead of going back and forth between employees or trying to communicate with everyone in an email chain, tools like Do let you manage projects within one dashboard.
Reporting. Reporting financials and other important information to owners, investors or other decision makers requires that you compile data on a regular basis. Using a reporting template within Excel or importing data directly from your accounting software can save significant time.
Accounting. Many accounting processes can be automated. Quickbooks can automatic-ally send invoice reminders, manage sales taxes, import data from receipts and more.
Customer Support. You must deal with customer issues and complaints on a case-by-case basis, but the process for handling them can be automated. Tools like Zendesk can set up a customer support ticket system. Automation lets your team better manage customer support assignments. It can also help you track progress with each case and manage your support team.
Customer Relationship Management. Juggling communications with your whole customer base gets more time consuming as your business grows. CRM programs like Salesforce and Infusionsoft can keep you organized and on top of those communications. They automate your sales funnels and label different leads and customers so that you can send them relevant communications, increasing your chances of conversion.
Filling Out Online Forms. For any new online platform, service, newsletter or anything else requiring personal information, you must fill out a form. One form won’t take up much time, but together they waste much time. Software like Roboform stores your data and enters it for you.
Backing Up Your Data. Your data is a key asset for your business. Since you can’t afford to lose it, regular backups are important. Many people forget or don’t have time to complete this task regularly. Cloud-based services like Carbonite and Dropbox offer solutions that will automatically back up your files to the cloud, which takes the responsibility away from you. You can also set up automatic backups locally through Windows or Apple Time Machine.
This article, by Annie Pilon, previously appeared at Smallbiztrends.com