Here’s one secret of adulthood: automation is life.
Automating everyday tasks can save you literally hours of your time. And with technology (read: the right apps), automating – and even eliminating – mundane or repetitive tasks becomes a breeze.
I don’t think I can even live without automated tasks anymore. I save so much time every day, and that’s time I can spend doing things that really matter. Now I have more time to devote to producing blog content, talking with my readers, and just generally living my life the way I want.
And because I’m sure you’re itching to get more time out of every day, here are 13 pretty common tasks you can automate.
1. Backup photos, videos, and files automatically to a Google Drive folder
Do you often worry that, one day, your computer or your phone breaks down – and with that goes all your photos, videos, and files?
Yeah. That’s no walk in the park.
But backing up files is actually one of those really simple – heck, necessary – tasks you can automate. So whenever you’ve got new photos, saved files, or whatever else, you’re sure that you can recover them from different devices if ever something goes awry.
How to automatically backup files to Google Drive
Option 1: Download the Backup and Sync app on your desktop. So any folder or file that you put on there is automatically uploaded into the cloud. It’s really that easy!
And if you work on multiple devices – say, you’ve got a desktop computer and a laptop – then you can easily access those files on that Backyp and Sync folder.
Just be sure you have the same apps and software on each device. You can’t open a Photoshop file on one computer without having it in the other.
Option 2: For iOS users especially! Install IFTTT on your phone. Here’s one of my posts where I semi-geek out over the app.
I personally use an “applet” that automatically uploads all my new photos into a Google Drive photo. (Because let’s face it: iCloud storage just won’t cut it.)
Related: Here’s One Reason You’re Not Productive (that’s not social media!)
2. Add recurring to-dos to a Trello list
You won’t believe how much time you waste typing out weekly or monthly tasks over and over again.
If you run your life on Trello like I do, then you’ll find that you can’t add recurring cards all that easily. But I’ve found that adding recurring to-do cards on Trello is one of those tasks you can automate with the right app.
This way, you don’t need to fret about suddenly forgetting something you do on a regular basis. I use recurring Trello cards to remind me about sending out my newsletters or tracking my blog expenses per month, for example.
How to automatically add recurring Trello cards to a list
I swear, this is one of my holy grail apps for productivity. (I write about my favorite must-have free productivity apps here.)
Just choose the applet that lets you add recurring cards, plug in the settings, and you’re good to go!
Related: Here’s One Reason You’re Not Productive (that’s not social media)
3. Turn Gmail emails or Trello cards into native reminders
If you’re a normal human being, you get a lot of to-do list items coming from your email. You know, maybe it’s your boss following up on that file you need to send. Or an order invoice you need to sign. Whatever!
There’s no denying our inboxes are filled to the brim with things we need to get done.
And one productivity hack I’ve recently learned is to immediately deal with emails as they come.
So I either archive it, delete it, or add whatever needs to be added into my to-do list. And how do I do this without wasting time switching through different apps?
One of the tasks you can automate to save those few precious minutes is setting a rule where, say you add a label To Do to an email, it automatically becomes an item in your native reminders app. Because I deal with a lot of freelance work and projects, this has been amazing for my productivity.
Now I no longer have to mark emails as unread and get to them…you know, whenever.
How to automatically turn emails into native to-dos
Option 1: Use IFTTT. Yup, I absolutely will not let this app out of my arsenal.
Or you can easily do the same thing with Zapier, another task automation tool that I absolutely love.
Just link together your favorite to-do list app – mine is 2Do, as well as the native Apple Reminders – and your Gmail or Trello.
With Gmail, use IFTTT or Zapier to set a rule to send any email with a particular label to your favorite to-do list app.
With Trello, IFTTT or Zapier can send any card that you add into a specific list to that same to-do list app. And before you know it, that item ends up right in your to-dos!
Option 2: Use built-in Gmail Add-ons
Okay, so this option involves a little more steps than any of the other ones, but this will be helpful if you’re like me and like to make the most of Trello, Gmail, and to-do lists apps.
First, you can download the free Trello Add-on right from Gmail. They’ve got all these nifty third-party integrations now, and I couldn’t help geeking out when I found them.
Link your Trello account, then set it up. Now you can select an email and add it into any Trello board you’ve got.
You can do a bit of edits on the description (this becomes the card title), and even attachments are included in the newly-added cards.
If the item is really a to-do – and you know, not like an attachment I want to keep handy or something – then I make sure to add it into a specific board.
Note: This doesn’t seem to work with emails that don’t contain any text. So if someone sends you an email with just an attachment or photo, the Trello Add-on doesn’t seem to be available.
Then with the handy IFTTT or Zapier, that newly-added Trello card becomes part of my Reminders app. Just remember to add these cards into a specific board so your preferred automation app knows to add this on your to-do list.
This is only if you want these new Trello cards to show up on your to-do list though. If you constantly check your Trello boards or don’t prefer using to-do list apps, then simply adding those emails right into a Trello board is fine.
Trust me, this is going to be one of those things you’ll be glad you automate!
4. Tweet new blog posts
I’m a blogger – I blog a lot.
So when I publish a new blog post, of course I want people to know it. And one of the channels I like to promote to first is Twitter.
I schedule my blog posts to publish at particular days and times. After all, I’m a binge blogger – I can write a bunch of different posts in a day, but publishing them all immediately doesn’t make much sense.
So instead of setting a reminder or alarm on my phone that, hey, my blog post was just scheduled, I let technology do the work for me.
Come on, you’ve got way better things to do than scramble to share your newest posts. You’ve already done the hard work, after all!
This is honestly one of the best tasks you can automate as a blogger. You don’t have to manually do the whole copy-paste dance on your social media!
How to automatically tweet new blog posts
I personally use Zapier for this one. I used to set up this task on my IFTTT account, but I found that Zapier’s recipe for tweeting out a description and link to be perfect.
The IFTTT version seemed to publish only a photo along with the tweet, but I didn’t really like that.
Just plug in a fun (or simple – whatever floats your boat) description for each tweet, and let Zapier do the work for you.
Here’s what my automated tweets look like. Of course, you can totally make yours much simpler, but I quite like being able to make up fun things to tell my followers that I’m using automation.
Related: How to Start a Blogging Side Hustle
5. Post Instagram photos on Twitter
One of the most annoying things about the Instagram and Twitter integration?
Your tweets end up looking like this:
And imagine the hassle of copy-pasting your photo and description to Twitter. Come on, you just did that two minutes ago on Instagram. No need to do the exact same thing on Twitter!
Solution? Make this part of your easy-peasy tasks you can automate. Your social media life will never be the same.
How to automatically post Instagram photos as native photos on Twitter
You already know what I’m about to say, but I’m going to make a big deal out of saying it anyway.
Drum roll, please.
Use an automation app! I use IFTTT for this, just because I first discovered this feature from vloggers and bloggers I follow on Twitter.
This applet is really easy to set up. Just link your Instagram and Twitter apps, and soon this is what your Instagram-to-Twitter tweets will look like:
Note: The applet makes it a point to tweet the link to your Instagram post. While some people won’t like that, I think it’s fantastic to get your Twitter followers to find you on Instagram.
6. Use canned email responses
You know what recently changed my productivity? Canned. Email. Responses.
Let’s be real: in some form or other, we use the same email replies for different people.
Maybe you’re in a sales team that cold-pitches bloggers and Youtubers a social media growth service. Or you work as a virtual assistant that filters in clients before working with them.
Either way, cut the time you spend saying pretty much the same thing by using canned responses. So next time you need to write the same message to different people, you can do that in as easy as a couple clicks!
How to set up and use canned email responses
Option 1: Canned responses are a built-in feature if you’re on Gmail. Simply go to Gmail Settings > Advanced, then enable Canned Responses.
From there, you can set up canned responses for things you find yourself repeating through email. Some examples can be rejection notes, instructions, or redirects and introductions.
Option 2: Use a smart clipboard app. Curious about what this is? Read on to the next item, and I’ll tell you all about it!
7. Keep a desktop clipboard
Gmail’s canned responses are fantastic, but what happens when you need instant access to replies, links, or files outside of Gmail?
Easy. Turn to a desktop clipboard.
While it’s not the most hands-free of tasks you can automate, having a desktop clipboard still skyrockets your productivity.
You know how much time we waste looking for the same links, copy-pasting the same stuff over and over (like social media profiles or a product spiel)?
A smart desktop clipboard totally erases the need to go back and forth with your frequently-used copy-paste items.
Really, ever since I got one, I’ve said goodbye to note apps – and I get stuff done way faster.
How to use a smart desktop clipboard
You can easily find a good one on your app store. But for purposes of this post, I’m showing you what I personally use: Paste.
Paste lets you keep and even sort your most recent copy-pasted items. Do you know how annoying it is when you need to re-copy the same thing over and over because regular built-in clipboards don’t let you keep more than one thing at a time?
Paste, and any smart clipboard, remembers what you recently copied and stores it in an easy-to-activate clipboard.
With a simple command, I can pull up all my recently-copied texts, links, even photos and tables and slides – then voila!
I love the tagging feature of Paste as well. Plus I automatically set the history to delete every week, and anything that’s kept in the tags aren’t removed.
Here’s how I set up my Paste app. See how useful? This is definitely one of the tasks you can automate every day too – you’ll save a ton of time, I promise!
8. Set up a default signature
Having a default signature set up on your emails is definitely one of the everyday tasks you can automate and not have to think about ever.
Your signature can contain your name, your social media links, and ways to reach you outside email. These are especially helpful if you’re reaching out to potential collaborators, be it clients or partners.
And having this as a default setting is one of the best tasks you can automate – literally set then forget!
How to set up a signature
You can easily find this in the Settings of your preferred email provider.
Navigate there then put in what you want your signature to be. A few things you can include:
- your website
- social media links
- phone numbers (if you want people to know where to reach you for urgent concerns)
- a logo (some people do this!)
You can be as creative or as straightforward you like. It’s your signature – so do what you want with it!
9. Share your calendars for appointments
Meetings are never fun. But you know what’s just as not-fun?
The whole “when are you free” dance gets pretty old nowadays. With technology on our side, it’s completely possible to eliminate having to go back and forth with meeting requests and scheduling.
What I personally do to say goodbye to back-and-forth emails? Sending my calendar for appointments and meetings!
How to send your calendar for meetings and appointments
Option 1: You can do this right from Google Calendar!
Simply set up the times you’re available to meet, then share that calendar with others. From there, they can select which times they’re free to meet with you.
Option 2: Use calendar and appointment apps
If you do a lot of discovery or consulting calls, you’ll definitely need the extra automation tools for scheduling. After all, this is one of the most important tasks you can automate – and should.
My personal recommendations for scheduling and appointments apps are Calendly or Acuity.
They’re both amazing, work nearly the same way, and have a ton of integrations to help you run a whole business that’s meeting-centric.
For example, you can charge for your consulting calls using Paypal. Or you can have customized email reminders sent automatically.
10. Use keyboard abbreviations and shortcuts
I mentioned having a smart clipboard a couple of items above, and keyboard abbreviations have almost the same effect. They both save you the time from typing out or copy-pasting the same things over and over.
But with keyboard abbreviations, you can set shortcuts for shorter phrases – things like addresses, mobile numbers, emails, birthday greetings. So by typing “myweb” for example, that automatically expands to my blog’s domain.
You can also do command shortcuts, like switching between browser tabs or apps. Or to open or close certain apps. Lots of apps you work on normally have their own built-in shortcuts, so get to know those.
This surprisingly saves me a ton of time, and I’m glad that I found keyboard shortcuts and abbreviations. Who knew a keyboard could be faster than a mouse?! 🙂
Related: How to Focus on Just One Goal at a Time (even when you have too many ideas)
How to use keyboard abbreviations and shortcuts
To set up keyboard abbreviations, I use this app called RocketTypist.
I set up all my preferred shortcuts, and voila. The only thing you need to do is remember your shortcuts though!
For keyboard shortcuts, you can check your most frequently-used apps. Nearly every app has some built-in shortcuts that you can easily remember. You’ll be a keyboard whiz in no time!
11. Install smart calculators
I’m a Macbook user, and I’ve always loved how I can do simple math equations right from Spotlight. And Google makes it easy to do math right from their search bar too.
But one thing I wished each one could do? Save my equations.
Sometimes I wanted to go back to a formula or calculation I did a while back. But unless you save these on a spreadsheet, then you pretty much need to keep re-entering the same equations over and over.
But I’ve found that a smart calculator for your desktop is the perfect solution!
How to use smart calculators
Saving calculations and formulas are one of the tasks you can automate with ease if you have an app like Numi.
The app works like any calculator app but does way more. For one thing, it it lets you keep “pages” so you can separate different calculations when needed. Numi has built-in conversions too, even currency.
And at the bottom of every sheet, it automatically gives you sums – which is great if you keep a running list of expenses, for example.
I personally use Numi to keep track of expenses, automatically converted in my local currency. So handy!
12. Schedule social media posts
You probably do a ton of social media work every day. You know, sharing new posts and promos.
And you might already know that there have been increasing studies on the best times to post, be online, etc. While knowing this information is great, there’s also one problem.
You’re not always online.
Come on, you’ve got a life. 🙂
So the solution is simple: schedule those posts ahead of time then let the posting do itself!
How to automatically schedule social media posts
Facebook lets you schedule posts to publish on your page or in your Facebook groups right from the site. Tweetdeck lets you schedule tweets.
Or you can get a social media management app, if you’ve got the budget. Hootsuite or Buffer are great options.
From these apps, you can schedule and rearrange posts for future posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Then just sit back, relax, and let those posts find their way out into the world on their own!
13. Use a password manager
Quick game: how many online accounts do you have?
Chances are you’ve got at least 5. Email, social media accounts, andeverythingelseinyourlife.
That’s a lot of accounts, and with it, a lot of passwords to remember. (I mean, you don’t want to use the same password for all your accounts, do you?!)
So just imagine all the time you waste trying to remember all your passwords or even resetting them.
The best solution? A password manager! You can read a little on how a password manager has managed to skyrocket my productivity here.
How to use a password manager
You’ve got a few options for this one. LastPass, 1Password, or Secrets are all pretty great.
What I love about these apps is that they have fantastic browser extensions – so you don’t need to open your app or vault to securely copy your passwords. The browser extensions let you paste passwords automatically, easy-peasy.
And even if you create new accounts somewhere else, the app can detect this and prompt you to save this new account into your vault.
Can someone say amaaaaazing?
Tasks You Can Automate
So there you have it! A list of 13 everyday tasks you can automate and take back hours worth of your time.
Just set up these automations in a way that works for you, and you’ll be reaping the rewards before you know it.
Now, let me know! Did you like this list? Anything I might have missed? What are tasks you are currently automating or want to automate? Be sure to leave a comment!
Mica is the face behind everything you see at her blog, Mind of Mica. She champions the goal-getters, the dream-chasers, and the unapologetic hustlers who are out to make a difference – even if it’s in their own lives.