Automations, the act of simplifying monotonous tasks and getting time back. That how I see them. Plus they’ve become a bit of a hobby, like a puzzle.
I can look at a task or process and see what the inputs are and what the output needs to be, then break it down into steps and figure out how to make things talk to one another to get the job done.
I use a number of these to save myself time on repetitive tasks. It’s not about being lazy but more about removing things that have to be done every time or long processes that take up a chunk of time.
So I thought I would share a few that I use, this isn’t a full explanation of the setup but more to give you some inspiration. If you want to ask for any input you can get me on my twitter account @vincenthaywood
Creating thousands of images in minutes to sell as digital products
I have a full explanation of this on the site, here : Icons Automation - Using banner bear, Airtable, Zapier and Dropbox I setup a system where you drag one image into a folder and the automation recreates different versions and renames them according and then sends to a folder.
Starting up multiple apps for work.
Using Apple’s desktop shortcuts app, I have split my tools across different tasks. For instance, all my graphic design tools are collected under one short cut, all my social media tools on another, and then my morning routine apps and documents are stored under another one. Now, I just click one button and I can switch my desktop to the job at hand. Saves a lot of time.
I have seven echos in the house (currently moving towards the HomePods - for privacy). Thanks to the Alexa app and some of the smart devices I have at home I can create one word triggers to set things in motion. For instance, in the TV room I could say ‘Alexa, movie time’ - the house then dims the lights in the TV room, and turns on my smart TV’s menu screen. Currently thinking if there is a way that that command could also switch my phones to do not disturb mode. Something I’m looking into with Apple’s Homepod.
Onboarding clients, removing monotony.
I used to use this one with my direct clients, simple setup using Google forms, google drive and various google docs and sheets. I set up templates of documents that I use with clients, such as welcome messages, contracts, ways of working, content templates and more. Then I can email a client a link to the form, they fill that in and as soon as they submit, it creates Their folders in GDrive, replicates the applicable documents, content templates - all with the clients’ company name, and finally emails them to give access. These have saved so much time. (Agencies, if you want some input on setting this up, get me on Twitter @vincenthaywood)
The beauty of this form too is that you can link video tutorials to show them how to get the information you need, such as access to ad accounts and more. The client basically does all the work. you can still bill of course 😀
Blog ideas to Google docs
Using Todoist, I create an automation that when I add a blog idea, via text or voice it will automatically create a google doc in my blog folder with all the prompts I use for writing and set a task in my todo list. It will also lable as ‘Incomplete’ so that whenever I open the folder I know what document I need to work on. The reason it’s through a to-do app is that at the same time I’m creating a reminder to write but creating all the documents needed.
Temperature monitoring for baby room
We use Tado to control the heat in our house. It allows us to individually control rooms. Sometimes we may lose connections or the room isn’t heating up enough. I used IFTTT mobile to tell me when my son’s room drops below 20 degrees.
Currently looking into automation for my wife and I to press a button when giving him medicine so we both know his dosages and ensure we both know.
Emergency clean up and Mow
I have two Neato Vacuums. One for downstairs, the other for upstairs. Plus a robot lawnmower. I have created a recipe in Alexa that when I say ‘Alexa, emergency clean up’ - Both the Vacumns and the Lawnmower get to work. Very cool for surprise visitors, or for hangovers.
Grab tweets and content ideas from conferences without even being there
Easy setup on IFTTT as these automations are already pre-built, you just have to fill in the gaps. In short, get the hashtag the conference you are interested in, is using and add it to the automation. It will then grab every tweet that gets posted with that hashtag and store it in a spreadsheet. You could add a question mark to your search query and find ideas for blog posts based on what people are asking.
Client tasks to billing timer
I’m not a fan of billing for time, but I used to have one or two clients that needed it. There was a lot of different tasks being added to Monday.com (their tool of choice) and I would have to create that task, assign a day rate and then start the timer. A pain in the ass (Agencies still use these methods) - Now, the client adds a task to the project dashboard and it auto creates in Harvest (my timekeeper) - I just have to click start and it starts billing. (Tip: Anyone charging for time, use harvest, its integration with Xero is great. In one click you have your invoice with timesheets good to go)
Automate reporting for clients
Any reporting dashboard that lets you schedule reporting will save you so much time. Or even a live dashboard. In my agency days, I used to see the team spend hours on reporting - an absolute waste of time. You should have something set up that allows you and your client to look at data and make decisions, not spend hours compiling it. Best ones for this : Dashthis or Whatagraph. You can customise and brand them, and automate the sending of them. Easy to build, plus you have a live dashboard anytime you or the client need to look at the data. They cover most data sources, but if not, as long as your data source is a CSV you could setup an automation to drag and drop the file into a folder every week and it churns out your report.
These are just a few of what I use. I’ve currently added loads more to a book I’m writing - you can sign up for when it’s out here : Automations Vol 1. - this one will include the instructions of course and some already built.