Ever replied “busy” to someone who asked you how you were?
Everybody craves time, but few people really take action to save up some of their time. If you look at your actions items, you’ll notice two types of things. There are things that you should not do and the things you have to do but could automate. This article will help you automate or outsource the non-value added parts of your life, with a growth hacking sauce.
For the sake of this article, let’s define automation as removing yourself from a particular process. As far as I’m concern, this can result in:
- Having machines or systems execute the process for you (IFTTT, Internet of Things)
- Having someone else do it in your place (outsourcing)
First, you should keep in mind that only things and processes that work should be automated.
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applies to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. – Bill Gates
1. Determine how you should handle your action items (10+ hours/week)
To determine this, the Eisenhower Matrix is always a good start.
I recommend you keep all the crucial things to yourself or someone you trust (see #3).
For the rest, eliminate the unnecessary non-crucial & non-urgent items and automate or delegate the rest.
2. For all things digital, think IFTTT (2+ hours/week)
I’ve already talked a lot about IFTTT (If This Then That) in my social media automation blog post, but this tool is such a time saver I had to talk about it again. This easy-to-use online software allows you to link services “channels” through applets. You can connect your email to your to-do list, then connect your to-do list to your phone notification and so on…
I mainly recommend using such tools for non-crucial tasks in the Matrix above.
3. Automate critical tasks by having someone else do them (∞ hours/week)
When it comes to tasks that are not easy to automate, adding other people to the equation is often the solution. Remember how we defined automation as removing yourself from tasks.
Two options there:
- You either have people working with/for you;
- You’ll have to hire some.
If you need to hire, quick tour on Upwork or similar websites will help you find the people you’re looking for to complete your one-time of recurring tasks. You’ll want to search for Virtual assistants for general tasks or find a specialist. I use virtual regularly now to help with my blog or for other projects. As an example I had a podcast interview transcribed for 25$, saving me about 5 hours.
Now working with other people requires excellent communication, especially if they’re far away. Always be clear in your requirement and ask the other person to rewrite what they understood in their own words. Also, always provide them with how much time you think it will take them and a clear deadline. You will sure do some mistakes when you start as I did but it’s still well worth it.
In many cases, you will remain a bottleneck in the process. In addition to providing clear requirements, here is a little hack from our friend Tim Ferriss:
“It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.” Tim Ferriss in the 4-hour workweek
Of course, hiring people will cost you money, but you’re the only one to know how much your time is worth!
4. Build an FAQ/Blog (2 hours/week)
Don’t you find it annoying when different people come to ask you the same questions over and over? Whether it’s about your business or your skills, you should build an FAQ. In fact, that part of the reason I started this blog and particularly my “How to Growth Hack an Event Guide” and Toolbox.
A good way to determine blog topics or FAQ questions is to write down the questions people ask you often in a Spreadsheet and how many times they’ve been asked to you. This will allow you prioritize.
If you have the option to manage this by email, you can set up an autoresponder email that features your most answered questions and points to your FAQ web page for the rest.
5. Social media (3 hours/week)
As I’ve already written extensively about, social media can be partly automated. This article will save you a lot of time and introduce you to IFTTT (If This Then That). You’ll learn how to automate things you often do and even give you the ability to do even more.
6. Blog post promo (2 hours/week)
If you blog or try to blog, you can automate most of your promotion process as I do. Talk about a time saver!
7. Automate your personal finances (2 hours/week)
Managing your personal finance can take a big chunk of your time and headspace. It doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine checking your accounts only once a week with the assurance that everything is under control.
The basics: your setup
A good starting point is having the following accounts of their equivalent:
- Checking account
- Savings Account
- Credit Card Account
- Investment Account
Something as important is knowing how much you earn and how much you spend every month. By syncing it to your bank accounts, Mint can help you gather all you bank account information, create dynamic budgets and give you a one-glance view of your accounts.
If you follow the next steps, the only time you’ll have to worry about it is the one 1/2 h you’ll spend per week to review your accounts.
Never worry about your invoices ever again
That’s right, set all your invoices to auto-pay themselves via credit card or wire when they’re issued. This works seamlessly whether it’s for your mobile phone, internet, insurance of Electricity bill.
Even if it feels a bit scary at the beginning, you’ll soon realize that the amount of those seldom vary that much. Worse case, you’ll check them once a week anyway, and it’ll be easy to adjust and fix.
Same goes with transfers to another person (landlord, friends of family) to pay back frequently.
Plan your credit card minimum repayments (North America)
If you’re not a robot, you’ve probably missed some of your credit card payments. No need to.
You can easily set recurring payments of your credit cards in the “bills” section of your online bank platform. Once and if you know how much you spend by credit card and earn per month, you can increase that amount to make sure the amount of your credit card account is always near zero.
Investment: pay your future self before yourself
If you’re lucky enough to earn more than you spend, start to invest automatically. In practice, you’ll determine the amount of your paycheck that you want to invest automatically. I’d recommend planning the transfer right on your payday so that you never actually see the money. It’s for your own good!
This way, you’ll never have to worry about it and won’t risk spending it elsewhere.
Another thing that can prevent huge headaches and tears: automated backups.
- For WordPress, I use UpdraftPlus that saves my websites in Dropbox every week
- For MACs, the TimeMachine standard program already does it for you once set up
- On PC, here is how to do it
Automation applied to your personal life can save you a lot of your precious time. You can use it to your advantage by:
- Determining what you should/shouldn’t do
- Connect your online accounts and let them work together
- Remove yourself from tasks you can’t automate and optimize on the go
- Build a FAQ/Blog for you most asked questions
- Automate your social media posts, following, etc
- Have your blog post promote themselves automagically!
- Automate your personal finances and check them once a week
- Automate your backups and never worry about them again
How do you save time? What tasks do you automate? Let me know in the comments or on The Twitter.