Imagine that somehow you forgot to set up your email signature so that you have to write “All the best, Richard” at the end of email manually every single time.
It sounds like something unimportant that absolutely can wait.
Now imagine that you write 20 emails every day and spend half a minute to write this phrase every time. It appears that you waste 10 minutes of your work time per day, 50 minutes per week, and so on.
Almost an hour of writing the same phrase when you could just go to the settings and handle it once and for all.
This article is not about email signatures. It’s about steps and tools that can help you automate your work, save a lot of time and boost team productivity significantly. Well, yes, this article is not about signatures, but seriously, for heaven’s sake, just go and set it up if you haven’t done so.
Benefits from processes automation
If my example with signature hasn’t impressed you, just imagine for a second that every person in your team makes this mistake, and other small unimportant mistakes as well. The main question in this task is: how much time does your business lose in general?
Sure, it’s impossible to work nonstop and not to lose time at all. That said, modern technologies give us a significant chance to minimize the amount of wasted time. Let’s speak about benefits:
- Cost reduction is one of the most obvious benefits. Since automation makes your work faster, you can handle more tasks spending less time. One could argue, that you’ll have to spend a lot of money on the special tools for automation. At the same time, there will be lower human personnel numbers.
- Better productivity: when you spend less time on the routine manual work, you have more time to express your creativity and apply your skills to more important projects.
- Reliability: There will be fewer errors as human factor is eliminated. Routine work is accompanied by small errors because of negligence. With automation, this problem practically disappears.
- Time savings: I think it doesn’t require explanations. Tools and lifehacks make your life easier and your work faster.
- Simple measurability: Tracking of progress is more accurate and simpler when you use tools in your work. For instance, if you send emails via the tool, there is no need for counting the number of emails or open rate percentage manually. Tools save all data and track it without any problems.
It’s just five things that come to mind when I think about benefits of automation. Of course, there are much more of them. However, I think these 5 highlights are enough to catch the point. Every person should strive to optimize work processes, to find small lifehacks and use tools that save precious time. I’m going to share some of them!
Life hacks to make your work faster
- Use keyboard shortcuts. It can be difficult to begin if until now you were limited to Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, but you’ll realize that it saves a bunch of time in a day. Here is a list of most useful commands you can use in your work. Also, even when you write an article in Google Docs, you can use shortcuts to make it faster. For instance, use Ctrl+Shift+8 to start bulleted list or Ctrl+K to insert the link. Thus you spend less time because you don’t have to get distracted and use a mouse. Just remember most common things you usually do when working on the documents, try to use shortcuts instead of clicking on the menu all the time, and you’ll see the result.
- Set up autoloading of programs you use in your work every day. When you’re turning on your computer, you can go and make some coffee. When you come back, all programs will be open for you. (For instance, your browser, skype, screenshot software, etc.)
- Use scrolling wheel to open new a tab without leaving the tab you’re reading right now. When reading something, I always want to open some links in the text to read later, and it’s quite inconvenient when new tab appears and interrupts my reading.
- Set up clipboard manager like Clipdiary. Using it, you can easily retrieve any information that was once copied to the clipboard. It will save your life if you face some technical problem with your computer or you have so many tasks that you can forget that you copied something important.
- Always write detailed title for your documents (with date, name of owner, name of document, date of the last edition,etc.) When you have a lot of documents named “article” or “report” it’s easy to mess things up. Also, it will save some time if you share this document with your colleague.
- Use Keepass or similar apps to save your passwords. It’s safe, and you won’t be able to lose it. Honestly, I used to write down my passwords on the pieces of paper, and it was so messy.
- Write manuals! I know, it’s boring, but it saves a lot of time when it comes to teamwork. Every new employee that comes to your company can read the manual and figure out the whole thing much faster. Without such docs, you’ll be explaining the same things to each person that do the same work. Manuals are important!
- Open your email inbox twice per day (in the morning and in the evening). Do not check it during your day (except that you’re waiting for some important email). It’s so easy to stuck in this process and spend all day answering your emails. I’m sure that you have much more important things to do.
- Break big tasks into small steps and create a plan for each day. Thus, large projects won’t seem so scary. Also, you can estimate your productivity when you have a plan for a day. What is more, everyone loves crossing things off a list!
- Don’t be lazy and delete unnecessary software and files from your computer. I used to put it off, but a slow running computer is too annoying. The same thing with unnecessary tabs in the browser.
- Automate website building. Instead of spending hundreds of hours and dollars on building landing pages or websites, use technologies available today to automate website building. Website builders such as Bookmark use Artificial Intelligence to make building a website simple and easy.
- Manage your bookmarks. You can’t have one folder for everything. It’s ok at the very beginning of your work, but when you work for a long time, this method won’t do. It takes too much time to find needed bookmark so create few folders:
Tools to make your life easier
There are a lot of tools that can help you to automate your work, and I probably won’t be able to list all of them in one article. Let’s go through the list of the most important ones, but note that all of them are related to IT company work. Here are a few tools that can help to set up your workflow properly:
One of the most common services we use every day is Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets. It seems obvious to me that these platforms are perfect to work together with your team. That said, I still meet some companies that use Microsoft Office. I wouldn’t say that it’s a bad program, but it’s totally inconvenient as to teamwork.
Google Docs allow you to share your docs with colleagues, to work together in one document, to track all changes and see the author of it, to leave comments and suggestions to each other and so on. The best thing about it is that you have access to your docs from every computer and every browser as it a cloud-based service. Also, you can sort all your docs, create separate folders for your projects and use templates it offers to save your time.
Another important thing is Google Calendar. It comes in handy when you want to arrange a meeting with all your colleagues or remember something important. It automatically sends invites to all people you choose and even sends you an email reminder as well.
Ther is also Google Keep, where you can organize your work and take note of important plans and thoughts.
It is convenient because you can access it in all of your devices so your notes are kept together in one place.
Google Drive is a file storage, safe place for all your files. With this platform, you can open your files from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. It’s also easy to share your documents with your team here.
The last thing I’m going to mention here is Google Forms. If you need some feedback from your team or any other information, the easiest way to do it is to send a form to each colleague. It will save you a bunch of time.
This is definitely not the whole list of Google services. Not even close.
But, all their services are aimed at teamwork!
You can easily work together on projects using these platforms and set up fast and productive interaction with your team.
Planfix is a platform for creating enterprise management systems. You can manage all your tasks with this tool!
It helps to organize your teamwork, project management, task management, and planning. You can assign tasks to your team and get tasks from other members as well. You can use checkboxes, set up deadlines, comment on tasks and discuss progress with your co-workers. I just can’t imagine work without this tool as it includes all you need to manage your projects, doesn’t matter whether it’s a remote team or not.
Slack is the cloud-based tool for easier collaboration with your team. It’s like a messenger where you can organize chats by topics. It also has a great integration with Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox and more.
It’s important to have one messenger for all discussions within your team. Since Skype or Viber can include personal contacts of your employees, it can distract them from time to time. Slack was designed for work collaborations. What is more, it’s well-structured and fast.
Redmine is a flexible project management web application. It’s very useful for programmers as they can set it up and customize it for the specific needs of their team.
It offers multiple project support, time tracking, a custom field for issues and more. Team lead can see the progress of tasks, know how much time they would take and also read comments from every employee.
Serpstat — all-in-one SEO platform that can cover all your SEO issues. Whether you are doing Internet marketing related or just simply run a website, this tool will come in handy.
It offers 5 features: keyword research, backlink analysis, rank tracker, site audit, and competitive research. In fact, some of these processes could be conducted manually.
For example, you need to check your competitors. The very first thing that comes to mind is to Google your product and find what else it will return along in the search results. Then you open the websites on the results and explore them. Sounds pretty simple. But would it be fast if you need to conduct in-depth analysis?
Tools like Serpstat can do this work for 10 minutes. It can find your competitors by keywords, find their top pages, PPC ads, backlinks, errors and more.
Another great thing is that all features are gathered in one place, so you don’t have to switch between different tools.
I think there is no need to explain what Time Doctor is. It’s a must not only for remote teams but for office work as well.
I’m convinced that blocking sites like Facebook or Twitter for your employees is a bad idea. Do not treat your employees like children. They all are responsible adults that know what they do. Using tools like Time Doctor is enough to control your team’s work. At the same time, there is no need to check your employees with it every day. Checking screenshots and sites your team visits is a step you should do only if you see that productivity is falling. Anyway, sometimes it’s something we should do.
Replyapp is a useful tool for outreach. It allows sending a lot of emails in just a few clicks but still make them really personal.
If you need to send a newsletter to all your team or partners, you can load the spreadsheet with their names and emails to this tool, write one template and it automatically inserts needed name to each email. It can insert specific company, title, phone, country, comment and more. Also, you can write a few emails and set up time of sending for each, as you can see in the screenshot.
It’s quite useful and saves a lot of time! Also, you can track the stats of your email campaign here. (delivery rate, open rate, reply rate)
Email Finder is a tool created by Hunter that can find professional email addresses in seconds. It uses the most complete database of public email addresses to find the right contact information (66 million website data sources).
Just add the first and last name of the person you need to reach out to and the website’s domain. You’ll get the result in seconds. This tool also comes with a Chrome extension that can find the email addresses of a website with a single click. It can also perform bulk email lookups for a list of people and is available in the API.
ContactOut is a game-changing tool that finds not only your lead’s personal email addresses but also their phone numbers. 30% of the Fortune 500 use this tool for business intelligence and recruiting, and it boasts an edge over the competition in terms of volume, accuracy, and focus on personal information. Your readers, no doubt, can use a good email search tool and they certainly would love to hear about this.
Another tool for the faster outreach is BuzzStream. It does almost the same as Replyapp does, but it makes your emails even more personal. You can use a template here too, but it can’t send emails to all contacts with one click. You’re creating a template, and then you should manually add something personal to each email.
It’s useful if you want to send the same text but don’t want people to guess that it’s a newsletter. It takes a bit more time, but personal emails appear to be more effective.
SimilarWeb is a useful plugin that can help you to estimate every site in a few minutes. For example, some guys wrote a letter to you asking about collaboration. You can click on this plugin and find out what traffic their site gets, where this traffic comes from, what sources this site use to get traffic and so on.
It shows all you need to know how successful this site is so you can decide if you want to work with them.
Also, you can track your progress as well as your competitors with this tool. Check what sources your competitors use to get traffic and compare it to your channels. This step can give you a lot of ideas as for self-improvement.
Share X is a fast and useful screenshot tool. I’m sure that every person in an IT company has to make screenshots few times per day. It’s easy to do it with special tools like Share X. It takes you a few seconds to take a picture of your screen, you can highlight or write something on the screenshot and get a link to it. It’s super useful for the remote teams as you can explain what you want from your co-worker showing every step in the screenshot. Here is how it looks like:
(Yes, I made a screenshot of the process of taking a screenshot.)
Sometimes you write emails to your partners or customers and have no answer. Mailtrack can be of great assistance if you want to check whether your recipient has read the email.
In the “Sent mail” folder you can see two check marks near each sent email. If you see one check mark there, then your email was successfully sent. If there are two of them, then it has been read already. Thus, you can know for sure if you need to follow-up with this person or just leave him or her alone.
Also, it sends daily reports so you can track your progress. Look at the screenshot above.
Grammarly is the most convenient tool for checking grammar. I always use its plugin for Chrome which checks your mistakes wherever you write. No matter how good your grammar is, no one is safe from typos. Also, I lose commas sometimes, and this plugin always saves me. No need to reread your important emails for a few times:
There is a full application for checking grammar too, where you can check your texts in full.
It makes proofreading of your text much easier. It highlights all mistakes and typos, gives you suggestions on how to improve readability of your text, and gives you synonyms for overused words.
IFTTT (IF This Then That) — free tool to connect your apps and devices to each other. For instance, you can post your photos from Instagram on Twitter as native photos or do reposts from your favorite Twitter pages automatically on your own page. You can track mentions of your company in RSS feeds and more! It’s just a small part of magic things this tool does.
Why is it so important?
Sure, you don’t need every single tool from my list, and you might need some other tools I haven’t mentioned in the article. It wasn’t the main task of this post to show you these specific tools. My point was to show you that there are so many of them and each can save a bunch of time for you and all your team.
Some of them are free (or have a generous free version), some of them are quite expensive. However, your time is much more expensive than this. Saving time you usually spend on some routine stuff, you can focus on the more important things.
For example, you can spend all your morning sending emails to your team members manually and feel exhausted after doing the same thing for a long time. Instead of it, you can spend some money on the outreach tool, handle these emails in a few hours and then spend all your day doing something creative and interesting.
Tools help you:
- To become more engaged with colleagues;
- To efficiently use your time as well as your colleagues;
- To solve tasks faster;
- To solve repetitive tasks automatically;
- To make your business more transparent and advanced;
- To increase the quality of teamwork;
- To control large amounts of information;
- To reduce the number of errors and improve management accuracy;
- To solve several problems simultaneously;
- To make faster decisions in certain situations.
Do not be greedy for money, be greedy for your time and it will pay off!
About the Author:
Anna Rud is a Content Marketer at Serpstat. Establishing an active presence on external resources, developing rich and quality content, and implementing brand strategy are her key responsibilities.