Whenever I talk to an entrepreneur about automation many seem to think big things like push button software that will blast their articles to multiple directories at one go. Hands free shopping cart and digital delivery. Automatic membership site signup and member management and of course auto responders.
These are all good ways to free up repetitive tasks but… I think misses out on the many simpler tasks. I was struggling a little to figure out the mechanics of a web site lately but I kept insisting on one thing which I considered a corner stone. That information should only be entered once or the fewest number of times as possible.
I didn’t want to copy and paste, I didn’t want my assistant to copy and paste if I can help it. To me, that is the very basic building block in automation.
How many things are you copying and pasting every single day?
How often do you or your assistant have to transfer data from one system to another e.g. from email to blog post? I bet if you really tracked it all your copy and paste list would be much, much longer than you ever imagined and this is on a daily basis. I think copying and pasting while fabulous, is a waste of time. Sure, it may be 2 seconds of your time. But if you copy and paste just 10 things a day, that is 20 seconds a day or about 7 minutes a month or 1 hr, 24 minutes a year assuming you only work 5 days a week.
There is no way we only copy/paste 10 things a day. How do I know? Because I have a little program that allows me to retrieve the last 20 things I’ve copied onto my clipboard and guess what? Before I’m even through mid day, I’ve done more than 20 copies.
On top of that, I have a program called Direct Access that helps me launch web sites and types address, repetitive stuff. It has a neat little feature that tracks how much time it saved me. In one year it has saved me 11 hours and 54 minutes. Wow, that’s almost half a day. Little copy and paste tasks are like tiny leaks in your boat. You don’t know it is there or you know it think it’s too tiny to do anything. But slowly and surely, you’ll find your boat is going to fill up with water.
What are you leaking? Are you transferring your customer information manually from your shopping cart into your mailing list? Are you setting up customers manually? When asking people to submit questions to answer on your blog, are you having to copy and paste the question when you are ready to blog? Are you manually branding all of your affiliate reports? Are you giving out logins to your assistants and staff manually each time they ask? Are you re-training staff from scratch every single time? All these tasks of transfering data can and should be ‘automated’.
Photo credit: Matthew Bowden