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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

                      9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

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                      5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

                      5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

                      Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

                      A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

                      So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

                      1. Take breaks

                      First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

                      If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

                      This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

                      There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

                      According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

                      It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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                      Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

                      If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

                      If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

                      Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

                      Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                      2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

                      One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

                      When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

                      Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

                      All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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                      For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

                      You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

                      You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

                      In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

                      Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

                      That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

                      That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

                      Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

                      3. Put your work first

                      This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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                      While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

                      However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

                      In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

                      If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

                      4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

                      In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

                      When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

                      If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

                      5. Try to be happy and optimistic

                      If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

                      This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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                      If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

                      Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

                      Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

                      15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

                      Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

                      All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

                      While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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