Productivity Tips

How To Automate Your Work Easily

By May 4, 2015 8 Comments

You don’t need me to tell you that your job is the busiest in the world. But being busy isn’t the same as getting work done. Probably the best way to do that is to automate your work.

Automation means robots and robots are awesome, right? Well, you are going to use robot, sort of. The automation we’re talking about here is using apps, tools and even assistants to off load some of your tasks so you can focus on the work that’s important for your business and career.

The question now is: what do I automate? Here are a 4 types of jobs you can automate easily:

1. Researching vendors and venues

Finding the right vendors usually takes days, even weeks, of work. Thankfully, this is one of the tasks that you can easily automate. Here’s a few tips for you:

  • Create an email template when reaching out to a vendor that includes your most common questions as well as adding some of the ones specific to that vendor.
  • Use vendor directories like Cvent to speed up your search. You can even post a want ad in these sites if you’d like them to go to you instead.
  • Ask your current vendors to refer good vendors and venues to you. What’s great is that they already pre-screen the vendors for you.
  • Use tools like Versionista and VisualPing, or an app like Page Monitor to watch for changes in vendor sites or directory listings. It’s particularly effective for catching promotions or to catch particularly hard to book venues.
  • Contract someone from job sites like Fiverr to do the research for you. You can even have them call those vendors as well so you don’t have to.

2. Posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more

Why is posting selfies and shower thoughts on social media fun but not fun when you’re doing it for work? Whatever the reason, this is another job you can actually automate. Here’s how:

  • First, create a social media plan and map out what you’re going to post for the week. You can also do this monthly but weekly seems best so that you can be sure that whatever you’re posting is still a fresh topic.
  • Use Buffer to schedule your posts or if you’re using Facebook, use Facebook’s own scheduling tool since we found that reaches your audience better versus third party tools.
  • Never forget that while you can automate your posting, never automate your replies. It’s just not right.

3. Scheduling meetings with vendors, clients, sponsors and everyone else

Getting the details right for an event means meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. So to make sure that you don’t miss an appointment, it’s best to get help with your calendar.

  • Use an online calendar, like Google Calendar, that can push events to all attendees right after it’s added. It makes it easy to update event details and it ensures everyone is in the loop.
  • On top of that, try using the reminder feature that most calendar apps have. Get reminded of an upcoming event via text, email or on your phone so you can smoothly glide from one meeting to the next.
  • Share your calendar with your entire team so that everyone can remind everyone else of their meetings. Note that this works best for small, in-house teams.

4. Keeping up with emails

How do you juggle all these emails coming in with all the work you need to do? Simple: let your inbox do the work for you. Email clients these days know that everyone wants to reach inbox zero (aka no new emails) so they bundle in a lot of tools to help you out.

  • Use filters to auto-sort (almost) all your email. Most email providers like Gmail already do this, but what I’m suggesting is you take it one step further. Add your own filters to instantly delete unwanted emails, archive unimportant ones and prioritize the most important ones so you can act on them immediately.
  • If you can respond to an email in less than 2 minutes, do it. You can apply this rule to most emails, in my experience: update requests, quick inquiries, invoices, etc.
  • Create templates for everything that you’re going to send more than once. Don’t worry, you can still customize the email before it goes out. No more staring at a blank email thinking of what to say!

When you automate your work, you really say no to the unimportant stuff and say yes to the work that will build your business or career. Try these 4 tips and you’ll not only save time but your sanity as well.

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Author Glenn Santos

Glenn has been writing about technology, productivity and lifehacks for 10 years now. He was previously an editor for Android Authority and Geeky Gadgets, and was one of the first contributors for Startup Weekend's main blog.

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  • Great stuff, we’re all about efficiency when working with planners and other vendors and use a lot of these tips as well. Thanks!

  • Great contribution good tips that makes great sense thanks.

  • joaneisenstodt

    Hmmm…is this automating event planning? I think this is using tools that many of us have used forever. Sadly, tho’, like the hotel sites, many of the sites you cited as resources for information about hotels contain a fraction of the info. really needd to conduct due diligence. It’s all fluff! As the co-chair of the CIC APEX Site Profiles Panel, we worked hard to have hotels provide thorough information on their sites. We were told it was too much for them to do. How can a planner justify a selection w/o asking many more questions that a thorough RFP (sent electronically but we’ve done that for years!) would? Thanks and I’m trying to figure out what’s really new here.

    Oh one more thing: when APEX came out w/ all the tools, I wondered how soon it would be before the planning process would be truly automated and could be done by anyone w/o knowledge and training. I fear that day will come and we’ll automate so much that the real information provided and needed never will be. Goals? Objectives? Audience demographics? Questions about a destination’s taxes and ballot initiatives? Never brought up in the automated process. Nope.. we need to be smarter and do more v. automating.

  • Jill Burke

    I would add using a full service meeting company. I knew the tremendous stress as a corporate planner, but wasn’t allowed to use an intermediary to do research (40% of a planner’s time) or handle the contracting. What I would have given for the opportunity to have someone doing that for me. I welcome your emails if you want to know more.

  • joaneisenstodt

    Oh wait.. I missed that Fiverr was recommended for work on a meeting. C’mon! PCMA .. you allowed this to be printed?! OMG.. it’s like “Meetings in a Box” .. it’s total devaluation of the professionalism of the process. Why bother being a professional, a member of PCMA, a CMP, when you can, for 5 bucks get help doing a meeting? Why bother knowing anything if you can just go on line to someone’s site (why promote just those?) And unlike colleagues, I won’t direct you to my web site or suggest you hire me. What I do suggest is that copy be vetted before it’s promoted. This stinks.

    • Hey @joaneisenstodt, I believe Glenn isn’t stating that your whole job be done on Fiverr/Upwork/eLance but rather delegate small tasks like calling to do simple research like finding what dates are available or having the vendor send you pricing. I believe firmly in delegating the small things so we can focus on our truly best work. For example, instead of spending my time on email, why not delegate that to someone else so I can focus on being on meetings to give clients advice and generating new ideas.

      • joaneisenstodt

        Will .. I get that and I know that others won’t. We are devalued all the time.. if we weren’t “Meetings Mean Biz” and NMAID woudn’t be needed. This is a promotion of some companies and a silliness of saying that it’s simple to do other things. I guess he shoulda written this better to make it more understandable and to show value in the work professionals do.

        • @joaneisenstodt:disqus Sorry it came off that way, we’re definitely not saying easy to do (our mission statement is all about making the difficult things easier) so if anything we’re just trying to find ways to make it easier for you. We’ll take a look and see if we can update the post for you!

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