And so we reach those truly demotivating tasks that seem to fill more and more of our working lives: administrivia. All those little ‘I’ll just’ and ‘before I do…’ that add up to a major productivity drain for you and your business.
‘Is it worth automating such little tasks?’ you wonder. Well consider this: eliminating a task that only takes 30 seconds, but which you perform ten times a day will save you six days over five years. Take a look at this graph from xkcd:
Every second counts
Here are a few admin automation time savers for earning those extra hours, days and weeks back:
- Set up some inbox rules. If the sender is x, move to file one. If the email contains keyword y, move to project file two. And so on. It’s maybe an hour of your life to set it up, for a lifetime of automatic filing.
- Backup. Look into cloud storage like Dropbox, or OneDrive so that when you save a file, it’s automatically backed-up to the cloud.
- Cloud apps. A lot of apps now work so that they sync across different devices. Take Evernote for example: add a note or clip a web page and it will be on Evernote whether you’re on your laptop, your PC or even your phone.
- Single sign-on. Who wishes they’d spent more time remembering usernames and passwords? When you’re shopping about for new apps to use, look out for whether they offer single sign-on. You can log into Turbine, for example, using a Google account.
The cherry on top of admin automation
Of course, if you enable admin automation through shared files and cloud syncing then in the process you are also enabling mobile working. This allows people to work the way that’s best suited to the task at hand. Once again, this increases the value of your time and theirs.
Nicholas Bloom, cofounder of the Chinese travel website Ctrip, ran an experiment where he allowed half of his call centre staff to work remotely. ‘It is estimated that it saved $1,900 per employee for the nine months,’ says Bloom.
Of course, mobile working is a whole other topic, involving a change in how you manage employees, keep track of a distributed workforce and ensure you keep everyone in touch. But automation is certainly a helpful step towards an agile and ever-more productive company.
We hope you’ve found this weekly guide to workplace automation useful. If you want to get started, why not sign up for a free trial of Turbine?