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Automation Plug-ins“How can I find more time?” A client asked me that, and I can surely identify with that question! Life goes so fast that we business owners are struggling to get more done in less time. There is only so much we can humanly do in a day. If you’re lucky enough to have an admin, their time is precious too.

Luckily, I have a few secrets up my sleeve to save some time managing the more tedious tasks. You can use several free or low-cost programs to automate many pesky tasks, no programming required.

Three programs I recommend are IFTTT, Zapier and Wappwolf.

IFTTT

IFTTT (If Then Then That) is a fun program that “puts the Internet to work for you,” according to its slogan. “Create simple connections between the products you use every day.” It does this by giving you control over many of the day-to-day products, apps and social media accounts that you can’t live without. IFTTT gives you the ability to hook up 255 apps or products (what they call channels) to interface with each other.

IFTTT lets you set up a “Recipe” for an automated action by an app that you select. You can use a recipe that has already been set up, or create your own.

Some Recipes create an “if then, then that” action between two channels, which will automatically run until you discontinue it.

There are two types of IFTTT recipes: If Recipes and Do Recipes. I’ll start with If Recipe examples below.

  • If I add a PDF into a specific Dropbox folder, IFTTT automatically sends it to my Kindle library.
  • If a certain type of item gets posted on Craigslist, IFTTT sends me an email.

IFTTT also offers the Do Recipe, to initiate an action, through its app for IOS or Android phones. I used a Do Recipe for a major peeve of mine: I hate when I am out and about and have to use my phone to schedule a meeting on my calendar. The Do Recipe allows me to add a quick appointment note to a Do notepad on my phone and automatically adds it as an appointment to my Google Calendar.

So much easier! And best of all IFTTT is absolutely free.

Wappwolf

Wappwolf is all about making the cloud easier to navigate by automating processes related to Dropbox, Google Drive and Box. The actions you set up in Wappwolf continue to run in the background, until you end them.

For example, you can specify a folder on Dropbox for Wappwolf to monitor. When it sees a new file drop in, Wappwolf automatically initiates the action you have set up. An action could be:

  • Automatically scales images to a smaller size when added to a specific Dropbox folder.
  • Automatically adding text, logo or a watermark to an image that is added to a specific folder.

Each file that Wappwolf processes goes into a Processed folder and the original will stay in the folder as you added it. You’ll find the Processed folder in the Dropbox folder that you asked Wappwolf to monitor.

Wappwolf is free for up to 10 automations, 100 files and 100MB a day. If you need more than that, you don’t have to commit for the long term. Just pay $5 a month for unlimited automation, 1,000 files and 1,000MB a day, or get a more extensive subscription for enterprise sized operations.

Zapier

Zapier is the granddaddy of automation programs. I love IFTTT, but if I can’t find the app or apps that I need to connect, I check with Zapier. It handles more of the business type applications (such as Basecamp, Buffer, FreshBooks, Pardot, LeadPages and such).

With Zapier, you create what they call Zaps by setting up Triggers and Actions between two supported applications. Examples of Zaps would be:

  • You create a MailChimp list of people who you want to sign up for a webinar. When they register, you want their names put on your main newsletter list. A Zap does this for you automatically.
  • When someone signs up for an event in Eventbrite, your Zap automatically adds that person to a spreadsheet. You spend less time tracking participants.
  • A Zap will add each attendee to a post in WordPress and save the post as a draft. This helps create an attendee archive list for an event website.

Zapier offers a free version that includes five Zaps and 100 tasks (one task = moving a piece of data) per month.

If you have an onerous task or two (don’t we all?), take a look at these three applications and explore automating them to add a little time in your schedule. Let me know what worked—and with all your extra time, go have a margarita and relax!

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