10 Common Tasks That Everyone Should Automate

Save yourself the extra time and energy it takes to do these manually

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Time management is a popular term we seem to be increasingly interested in figuring out these days. Despite the thousands of articles, books, videos and even full-blown courses you could use to learn more about how to master time management in your own life, what it all really comes down to is prioritization, concentration (on one thing at a time), delegation and automation.

Automation is what we're going to focus on right now because when it comes to accomplishing anything at all via the internet, putting the right tasks on autopilot can be a huge time saver. In a study that looked at productivity among office workers, researchers found that it took the average worker about 25 minutes to return to a task after being interrupted. In other words, you can expect that one little buzz from your phone or ding from your desktop email client is all you need to put your brain in a distracted state of multitasking chaos.

Let's face it – internet task automation just makes life simpler. You just have to take some time to set it all up. By the end of this article, you could have all of the following tasks working for you, instead of you working for them!

01
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Cross-posting on social media

Social Media Icons
Photo via Pixabay

Whether you use social media for personal purposes or to market your business to the world, making sure everyone sees your post on every social page and profile you manage can be the ultimate time suck when done manually. These days, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of the many tools available that can help you schedule and manage the posts you send to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all your other favorite social networks from one convenient place.

Buffer, HootSuite, and TweetDeck are just a few popular examples of social media management applications that can help you do this. IFTTT is another one worth considering for the automated trigger and action recipes you can set up between social networking accounts – plus lots of other popular internet services you use too.

02
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Managing email newsletter subscriptions

Email Newsletters
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Every single business in existence wants to be able to reach you by email, and over a period of a few weeks to several months, you could easily end up with more email newsletters than you're able to really handle. Keeping up with reading the good ones regularly and making sure to unsubscribe from the unimportant ones is a grueling, time-consuming task.

Unroll.me is the tool you need to tackle newsletter management. Not only does it make it possible to unsubscribe from multiple newsletters with a single click, but it also gives you the opportunity to combine your subscriptions into a daily digest email, so you just receive one instead of multiple emails a day. Unroll.me currently works with Outlook, Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live, Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud.

03
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Budgeting and paying bills online

Online Banking
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Remembering to stay on top of all your bills and budget stuff is a pain, but everyone knows it's one of those things that just has to get done. Forgetting any of your bill due dates could cost you more money that you should've had to pay in the first place, and taking care of it all manually obviously takes time and patience.

Although automated bill payments aren't everyone's cup of tea, they can certainly help take the headache out of remembering to take the time to do it yourself. Most online banking platforms have automatic payments that you can set up. But before you go ahead and sign in to your online banking platform to do that, find out how to organize your automatic bill payments and make sure you know when automatic payments aren't such a good idea.

You can also use a service like Mint to have automatic reminders sent to you when due dates for bills come up. Mint is one of the best personal budgeting services out there, which keeps track of all your budget transactions automatically by connecting safely and securely to your bank accounts.

04
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Syncing your to-do list with your calendar

Calendar, Keyboard, Coffee and Smartphone
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When you add things to your whatever calendar app you use, they typically don't automatically show up on your to-do list app when the day arrives. Same goes for when you add something to your to-do list and it doesn't show up on your calendar. Ideally, you want a solution that achieves both along with automatically sending alerts for deadlines, giving you the ability to create subtasks, setting up repeating tasks and syncing your information across multiple devices.

gTasks is a powerful to-do list app that syncs to Google Calendar as well as your Google and Gmail account. You can see all of your tasks and calendar events all in one place, so you never have to manually transfer anything from your calendar to your to-do list, or vice versa.

05
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Remembering to check traffic and weather

Weather App
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Is there anything worse than heading out somewhere only to get stuck in traffic or a bad storm? Manually checking traffic and the weather is something that's easy to forget to do, but it can save you a lot of time and even help you decide if a change of plans is necessary. To make sure you never forget, automate it.

For traffic, you'll definitely want to install the Waze app on your phone. It's the world's largest community-driven traffic and navigation app that you can also use to get instant alerts in your area about accidents and other traffic-related problems on the road.

And while many weather apps give users the opportunity to set up alerts for severe weather warnings, a better way to customize your weather alerts is by using IFTTT. Here's a recipe that adds the current' day's weather report to your Google Calendar at 6 a.m. and another that sends you an email if there's going to be rain in your area tomorrow.

06
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Replying to all those emails

Sending Email
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It's frightening to think about how much time we spend reading and replying to emails. While most emails usually call for a personalized reply that can only be written manually, a busy person who finds themselves typing and sending the same responses over and over again is wasting way more time than they really should be. In fact, there's even a better option than simply copying and pasting a generic script into your message as a solution.

Gmail has a canned response feature, which can be set up by accessing the Labs tab in your settings. Enabling the canned response option will give you the opportunity to save and send a common message, which can then be sent again and again by clicking a button next to the compose form.

Boomerang for Gmail is another great tool worth checking out, which allows you to schedule emails to be sent out at a later time and date. If you don't want to wait until that specific time or date rolls around, just write the email, schedule it, and it will be sent out automatically at the time and date you decide to set.

07
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Saving links you find online so you can access them later

Reading Smartphone
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Let's say you're checking Facebook while on break at work or Googling something while standing in line at the grocery store. When you come across a link to something that looks interesting, but you don't have the time to fully check it out at the moment (or you simply want to make sure you can access it again whenever you want), you'll need a better solution than fumbling with your device to try and copy the URL so you can email it to yourself.

Lucky for you, there are tons of options out there that can help you save and organize links easily in just a few seconds. If you're browsing on the desktop web, you'll want to have Evernote's Web Clipper tool installed. Evernote is a cloud-based productivity platform that helps you collect and organize your own files and stuff you find on the web – even on mobile.

Other tools that help you save stuff online to check out later include Instapaper, Pocket, Flipboard and Bitly. These all work with your own account, so whether you save something on the regular web or via one of their apps on your mobile device, you'll always have an updated collection of stuff you saved whenever you access your account via the service's website or app.

08
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Backing up all your device's photos and videos to the cloud

Taking a Photo of a Concert
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If you're like most people these days, then you use your smartphone to capture photos and videos of all kinds. Wouldn't it be awful if you ran out of space? Or worse, if you lost or destroyed your phone? Taking the time to manually back everything up is fine if you want to do that, but an easier and more efficient way to do it is to put it on autopilot and have it working for you every time you snap a new photo or film a new video.

If you have an Apple device, you can set up iCloud Drive to use the iCloud Photo Library to store and back up your photos and videos. And if you have an Android device, you can use your Google Drive account to do the same using Google Photos.

IFTTT is again something worth considering here as well – especially if you'd prefer to do all of your backing up with another service like Dropbox. For example, here's an IFTTT recipe that will automatically back up your Android device's photos to your Dropbox account.

09
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Building playlists using your favorite music streaming service

Smartphone with Earbuds
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Music streaming is all the rage these days. Spotify is definitely the big one that people are loving for unlimited access to millions of songs. With that much variety, you'd need to build several playlists to be able to listen to all your favorites. Building playlists may be much more enjoyable than paying bills online or replying to emails, but it can also be a huge time suck.

When you simply don't have enough time or patience to build your own playlists, consider taking advantage of music streaming services that have pre-built playlists or "stations" with themed genres. Google Play Music is a good one that revolves around curated radio. SoundCloud is another free option that has a station feature you can select on any track to listen to similar stuff.

If you use Spotify, you can do a search for an artist or song and see what pops up under the "Playlists" section. These are playlists that have been built by other users and are made public so that other users can follow and listen to them as well.

10
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Finding recipes online to plan your meals around

Taking a Photo of Food
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The internet has replaced the old fashioned cookbook for a lot of people. When it comes to searching for great recipes to try, all you have to do is turn to Google, Pinterest or any of your favorite recipe sites or apps. But what if you don't know what you want to eat today, tomorrow, the next day or this coming Thursday? Discovering and deciding on what looks good can be as time-consuming as deciding what to watch on Netflix!

Eat This Much is a service that helps you stick to a healthy diet by automatically planning out all your meals for you. The app takes your diet goals, your budget, and your schedule into account to generate a complete meal plan for you. Premium users can even have grocery lists automatically sent to them. Whether you eat everything or not, you can track it all within the app and even make adjustments so that meal suggestions fit closer to your needs.