Lather, rinse, repeat — I have a lot of tasks that constantly remind me of shampoo. No kidding, I used to to do a bunch of basic, menial tasks on a constant basis all by hand. Thankfully, the more that I’ve learned how I work and what my business needs are, the more I’ve been able to automate and batch process certain tasks. This leaves me more time for myself, my family, and for developing more amazing things in my business.
What is automation and batch processing?
Simply put, automation and batch processing are ways of creating systems and putting them in place to do the work for me in blocks of time so that I’m able to walk away.
Automation is pretty self explanatory. You set up a process that automatically operates itself. Batch processing means that everything is done at one time to cut back on repetitive tasks throughout your time frame.
I automate and batch a few different areas of my business, and I’m always exploring more options as well. My main areas are social media, photography, and emails.
Social Media Automation and Batch Process
With tools like Buffer.com, it’s so easy to automate and batch your social media postings across multiple platforms! I sit down and plan out my Facebook, Google+, and Twitter posts as far in advance as I can. With their free account I can schedule up to 10 updates per account – that’s plenty to let me easily schedule my blog posts in advance. They also have a nice feature for adding blog feeds, which I use to make sure I’m sharing posts from my favorite trusted sources. I also use the Buffer Daily app on my iPhone and fill up my Twitter post schedule with tips, tricks, and fun articles so that I’m constantly active there as well. Bonus: the articles I find in the Daily app usually give me new awesome sites and blogs to follow too!
image of iphone with buffer open
Automating my Photography Process
Photography is another area that I want to be as automated as possible. I offer stock photography and will be increasing my offerings there very soon as well as adding a stylized photography shop. I need to make sure that my files are all saved at specific dimensions, resolution, and in the correct color space (RGB). To do that, I’ve created an action in Photoshop (tutorial coming soon!). Basically this is a recording of the exact steps that need to be done to each file. When I’m ready I just need to hit play instead of click around to make these things happen.
Photoshop also has a bonus feature that I can run a batch process which allows me to pick any number of files that I want to run this action on. Currently I have 32 photoshop files waiting to be converted to JPEGs. While it would probably take me about 5 minutes per file to open, run my tasks, save as a JPEG and close (thats nearly 2 ½ hours!), I can simply run a batch process on my folder and walk away. The process will be done in less than 20 minutes and I won’t have to do more than spend 2 minutes telling the system what action to run, and what files to use.
image of computer with batch processor window open
I don’t do a lot of batch processing with emails, but I do automate a lot. I use canned responses in Gmail so that I always include the most important information (correct links, payment timeframes, and more). I have programs that allow my blog visitors to easily sign up for my mailing list without me having to manually add them, and those processes send out automatic welcome letters that share important links and my free download too. I also use autoresponders in Mailchimp to run my email courses. Those who sign up for my email courses are automatically added to the list and sent their first welcome letter. They’re also sent out a new email every 2-3 days (depending on the course and the schedule) that give them targeted tasks.
How do you save time?
When it comes to automation, I’m always looking for new and improved ways to cut back on the tasks that take too much focus off my work and my family. Aside from the tasks above, I also create detailed workflows in Asana to keep me on track with my projects as well.
What do you do to automate your tasks? What’s your favorite program? I’d love for you to share some tips in the comments below!