Time-Saving Automations To Help You Be More Productive When Working At Home
One of the most important things about running your own online business is setting it up to run when you can't be there to do every single little thing. In some capacity you need to have things set up to be automated so that you don't have to spend your time doing tasks that aren't so glamorous and eat up your time. By putting a few automations in place you will have more time to do what you do best.
1. Filling out forms
This may sound like a silly one but if you ever had to fill out online forms it's all repetitive and could take up time that doesn't need to be spent. I recommend that you look for a plug-in for the web browser that you use to autofill your information.
For example, if you use Chrome go into settings then go into password and forms and fill out all your information. This will auto load every time a form comes up which will save you time. You can also do this to store credit card information if you're comfortable with doing that as well.
Also for username and passwords, you can use applications such as 1password or LastPass to store your login information and also share it with team members if you have a team that you're working with. This will save you time from having to remember every single username and password or having to look for them wherever you have them stored.
2. Auto responses for when people reach out
If you are a service-based business and receive inquiries you constantly have to go back and forth in the beginning answering questions and doing your whole introduction. You can use a service like HoneyBook that will automate all of this for you. You’re able to create proposal templates, services templates and even insert your contract so that every step of the way is automated which saves you a bunch of back-and-forth that doesn't need to be done.
Other than using a program, you can create templates to keep stored for when someone reaches out so that all you have to do is paste in the information and send it rather than customizing every single email each time. This could be done by creating canned responses if you're using Gmail, or you can create a document that has them all stored. The idea is to have every step of the way templated so that all you have to do is enter the specifics and send to your potential client.
3. Appointment Scheduling
Whether you're scheduling meetings, consultation calls or any other type of event that would take up your time and would need to be scheduled, I recommend that you use an automated scheduling service. You can use Calendly or Acuity which have been highly recommended and help to reduce the back and forth of “does this work for you,” “when are you free,” and so on.
By using one of these schedulers, you can set your availability and then all the other person has to do is choose the times that work best for them. Through these programs you can do other time-saving tasks such as setup intake forms, include details for the meeting, and have automated email reminders so that they don't miss or forget about their scheduled time.
4. Sending contracts and collecting payments
One of my least favorite things when I was starting out was following up with clients about invoices. Without a system in place, I was asking if a check was sent or if they can PayPal me and send me what was due. By using a CRM, which is a customer relationship management tool, all of this can be automated for you.
Programs such as HoneyBook, and Dubsado that will send your invoices and payment reminders if needed. In more advanced CRM’s you can upload your contracts and proposals into the system and have these automatically sent to your clients so that they can sign digitally and alleviate any back and forth.
5. Email inbox management
Many of us spend hours in our inbox going through and typing out response after response which eats up a lot of our day. To cut down on this time I would start creating an email response template document for all of your common responses. By creating this, you don't have to continuously type out the same things. If you are getting asked similar questions about a certain service or product, you can have responses already pre-made to send out when this comes up. This is also great if you bring on someone to onto your team to manage your inbox— they will already have the right answers all laid out for them.
You can also set this up using canned responses in Gmail. Basically all this is, is already pre-written emails that will be inserted with the click of a button.
Another great recommendation is to set times for when you're going to check your inbox. If you set two times per day that you're going to look at your inbox and respond only during these times, this will cut back on the amount of distractions throughout the day.
By doing this, it allows you to not stop what you're doing to answer an email right away. With these boundaries you'll have more free time to work on things without interruption and get more done throughout your day.