How to Automate Repetitive Tasks in Your Workflow

May 9, 2019
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It’s no secret that technology has changed the way we live and work. As technology becomes even more accessible, available, and robust, this opens the door for more opportunities to become more efficient—and work smarter.

Automation is just one example of how technology has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. In fact, you probably already use some form of automation in your everyday life: auto-paying your bills, creating calendar reminders and notifications, and even setting your coffee pot or slow cooker to turn on at a specific time.

Of course, this is “automation” in its most basic form; however, automation has become a powerful tool for many teams, businesses, and project managers.

In fact, according to a report published by Wrike, nearly 70 percent of workers believe that 40 percent of their time spent at work is on routine tasks. And those tasks could be automated by adopting the right technologies.

In this article, we will talk about what task automation is, and how you can automate repetitive, tedious tasks in your own workflow, allowing you and your team to focus on providing value.

What is Task Automation?

Task automation essentially puts tasks on “autopilot” so that they are completed in the background. Think about what you could do with that extra 40 percent of time back into your work day…

In short, the purpose of automation is to delegate the repetitive, tedious tasks so people can devote their time and energy to more impactful, valuable, and meaningful work, such as decision making, problem-solving, and team collaboration.

In addition to giving you more time back during your day, here are some other high-level ways automation can help increase efficiency and productivity.

Consistency and Precision Reduces Risk

Automating repetitious tasks also ensures a level of consistency and precision that humans can’t always sustain. Task automation helps mitigate the risk of human error.

Eliminates Waste

By “waste,” we are referring to wasted time and energy on mundane tasks, which decreases motivation, productivity, and creativity. The solution to this “waste” is part of a process known as lean thinking.

Although commonly used in manufacturing, lean thinking can be applied to today’s projects. Lean thinking is the systematic elimination of waste—or any activity that doesn’t deliver value. This could be value to the team, the business, or even directly to a customer.

This level of thinking is dedicated to streamlining projects, doing fewer things, doing the right things, and eliminating bottlenecks, ultimately increasing the speed, velocity, and optimizing the continuous flow in processes.

Automation is Really a Mindset

As you are reading this, you are likely thinking of all the tasks that you could automate. However, before you begin automating, you first must learn how to think with an automation mindset. This means thinking about how something will get done rather than who will do it.

So, when it’s time to assign new projects and tasks, ask the question: Should this be automated? Pose this question to your team. We are willing to be that there are probably opportunities to automate some of the existing tasks that your team members’ plates.

By working with your team to explore what they are working on and how those tasks can be automated, you will essentially free up your team to work on new, more important projects.

How to Automate Tasks in Your Workflow

Now that you have a better understanding of what task automation is and why the right mindset is important, you are likely eager to start automating your workflow.

So, what’s next? How do you get started? How do you know which tasks to automate?

Step 1: Make a List

Start by creating a list of all the things you work on each day. We recommend building this list in a spreadsheet and adding these columns:

  • Category/Task - Make a list of all the tasks you do each day. If it’s helpful, assign each task a category (i.e. client/account management, project management, billing/finance, etc.)
  • Time Spent - On average, how much time do you spend doing each task?
  • Frequency - On average, how many times does each task need to be completed? (You can measure this in hours, days, weeks, months, and so on.)
  • Tabs open/tools you need to use - What tabs in your browser or what tools do you need to accomplish each task?
  • What is the optimal solution? - What would be the best solution for getting each task done?

You can also have each team member complete this same exercise. When you are finished, have a team meeting to discuss optimal solutions for getting tasks done.

Step 2: Explore

This next step may take some time. Depending on the tools, tabs, and applications you use, you may need to research possible integrations with your current apps to see what automation opportunities are available.

For example, you can automate your project notifications by integrating Rindle and Slack and creating an automation around when you'd like to get notified about specific tasks.

Step 3: Map it Out

Once you have identified the tasks that can be automated, the next step is to map out the new workflow with automation built in. You can do this on a whiteboard, a mind-mapping application, a slide deck, or even a basic word processing document.

The goal in this step is to make a visual representation of how your task will be completed with automation.

Step 4: Build

After mapping out your new workflow, now it’s time to build it out. Depending on the level of complexity, you may need to recruit a member of your IT team to help you.

If you are lucky enough to use no-code tools or apps with automation and integrations already built in, then this makes the build process a little easier. For example, Rindle is a project management tool that is built with certain automation capabilities, such as moving tasks on a virtual board from one column to another when a user marks a task complete.

Even if you use another project management tool, such as Asana or Trello, you can explore the different automation avenues available to help you get more done.

Step 5: Test

Once you have mapped out and built your new task workflow, now it’s time to test it. Ask your team members for help with this step. Ask them if the automation is working, if it saves them time, or if it reduces their workloads.

It’s also important to test out the automation to make sure the task is completed successfully and accurately.

Task Automation Myths: Debunked

If you are reading this and thinking, If I automate 40 percent of my time, won’t I end up losing my job?

Let’s get one thing straight: No, automation won’t leave you standing in the unemployment line

One of the biggest automation myths is that it takes away jobs. The honest truth is that project management requires a level of emotional and business intelligence that no machine can replicate.

Furthermore, more and more companies are going agile, which means there is a larger focus on building and delivering value to an organization and customers. In order to boost value, there are two things that will help achieve this: people and processes.

The people—or talent—is your project team, and the processes are obviously what you need to get things done. If a portion of those processes—or the individual tasks that occur within those processes are automated, then the “people” part of your project will lead to more productivity, creativity, and collaboration, all of which are important in reaching goals and driving value.

The key takeaway here is automation, robots, and machines are built to help us reduce overhead costs, save time, and allow us to focus on more important things.

How Rindle Can Help

All in all, by shifting your mindset to focus more on how to work smarter with task automation, you can make a huge impact on your team and your organization as a whole.

If you are in love with the idea of automating tasks for your team, then give Rindle a try today. Rindle is an all-in-one project management tool that has everything you need to manage—and automate—your projects effectively.