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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 10 Tasks That Aren’t Automated but Should Be

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 10 Tasks That Aren’t Automated but Should Be

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What task isn’t automated (yet!) that you wish would be in your business?

1. Industry Research

Andrew Schrage

    A significant portion of my day involves researching what is going on in my industry, as well as what the competition is writing about. I wish there was a way to automate this process. I know of a few apps that help with this, but I’ve yet to incorporate them into my workday.

    Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

    2. Meetings

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    Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer

      I want a universally accepted ability to automatically schedule meetings and then send confirmation reminders the day before. Ideally, this smart piece of software would intelligently categorize your existing meetings so that you can look at the data to see what you are focusing on versus what you should be focusing on. In fact, if you do this, I’ll happily introduce you to VCs!

      Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

      3. Partnerships

      Liam Martin

        Right now we run partnerships in a completely manual way, and it takes up quite a lot of our time to investigate them, explore possible avenues and run pilots with possibly companies. I would love to automate this process, but since it’s so dependent upon people, I don’t see how we could figure this out while still respecting the fantastic companies that contact us to work together.

        Liam Martin, Staff.com

        4. Searchable Libraries of Content

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        Alexandra Levit 2

          I’d love to have all of the content I’ve ever published housed in one place with easy search capabilities. I’ve probably written over a million words in the last several years, and to be able to automatically pull ideas for use in current projects would be invaluable.

          Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

          5. Hiring

          Brett Farmiloe

            Hiring good people takes a significant amount of time. I’m not sure if you could ever automate the process of finding the perfect person for a role, but I’d love it if the right candidate magically appeared in an automated fashion.

            Brett Farmiloe, Digital Marketing Agency

            6. Inventory Management

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            Aaron Schwartz

              We have a ton of inventory — at least 100 units across 150 unique styles! On a monthly basis, we need to count this inventory, which is a major pain. A bigger issue, however, is that the lack of insight into our inventory means that we sometimes miscalculate when we need to reorder products, which creates rush fees from our factory.

              Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

              7. Reports and Proposals

              Phil-Laboon

                One of the most tedious tasks for our business is creating unique, enticing proposals with valuable insights. It would be extremely advantageous to have an all-inclusive reporting solution — an all-in-one tool that provides all the insights we need instead of having to use multiple tracking tools, chart generators, image editors, document layout tools, etc. to generate reports.

                Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing

                8. Client Background Research

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                Patrick Conley

                  We like to have a solid background report of clients so that we can speak intelligently on discovery calls. The Internet delivers tons of data, but sifting through and finding the pieces that are relevant and accurate can be a tedious process. It would be great to have a more automated solution, but there’s some serious automated intelligence that needs to be developed first!

                  Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

                  9. Follow-up Reminders

                  doreen-bloch

                    I wish there would be a reliable tool for automated reminders to follow up with clients and partners. Right now, I use Boomerang and other email plugins to set reminders, but it’s not fully automated, so it takes time to set up. An automated system would free up time for setting up reminders and enable us to focus on just doing the follow-ups that drive business value.

                    Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

                    10. Task Management

                    Manpreet Singh

                      If my team and I weren’t so busy recording what we’ve accomplished, we’d definitely accomplish more. Basecamp currently gives summaries of on-platform updates, which is nice. But it’s not organized. So, team members manually go to one of several Excel sheets and update it with details of their tasks. That could be automated with a “record” button syncing computer or mobile activities to Excel.

                      Manpreet Singh, Seva Call

                      More by this author

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                      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                      How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

                      How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

                      If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

                      Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

                      But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

                      Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

                      If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

                      1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

                      For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

                      Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

                      If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

                      But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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                      So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

                      Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

                      In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

                      2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

                      Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

                      Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

                      Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

                      Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

                      For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

                      Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

                      Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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                      For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

                      Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

                      Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

                      Bonus:

                      If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

                      3. Take meaningful time for yourself

                      We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

                      Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

                      If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

                      Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

                      This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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                      No time for me-time? Try this:

                      If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

                      This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

                      Bonus:

                      Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

                      4. Get productive and feel accomplished

                      Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

                      When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

                      While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

                      Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

                      No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

                      So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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                      Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

                      This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

                      Try this:

                      Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

                      The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

                      Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

                      The bottom line

                      There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

                      The only question is — which tip will you try first?

                      Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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