Having run my own business for more than 4 years, I am always on the lookout for ways that make my workday easier and more efficient. And ways to enjoy my vacation time without stressing that things are not going smoothly.
There are, of course, the standard tools for your office:
- A diary
- The all-important to-do-list
- A whiteboard
- A desk calendar or planner
- Excel spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of your social media posting
- Budgeting software
- Scheduling applications
- Team chat applications
Make sure the to-do list is not too big, which can increase overwhelm. Only list what is achievable in a short amount of time.
I use two whiteboards in my little office space at home.
A desk pad or calendar is good for keeping notes on.
There are programs you can download and use for free or get on a 30-day or 60-day free trial. Below are a few I have tried or currently use.
It should be noted that I neither endorse nor am an affiliate of any of the products mentioned below.
Canva – for graphic design
SmarterQueue – schedules social media posts
Buffer – schedules social media posts
Toggl – for time tracking
Mailchimp – for email scheduling (can be integrated with Facebook)
Setmore – for calendar bookings (can be integrated with Facebook)
Calendly – for calendar bookings
LastPass – password security
Many Chat – visual bot builder for Facebook Messenger
Draw.io – for making graphs
Grammarly – correct grammar errors
As business owners, we do not have vacation time or time away from the business, but office automation can certainly help when taking time off.
Office Automation Can Bring Balance
There are many out there who do not believe in the phrase ‘work-life balance’. Some believe that balance is overrated. A cultural myth, much-discussed because it is supposed to mean that you are living a healthy life. You are rested, fit, healthy, dependable and a tad boring.
Arianna Huffington, a former workaholic, recently told Tesla CEO Elon Musk…
“…we all have limited energy. As such, we must allocate time wisely, depending on priorities and circumstances. Inevitably, some things are neglected when more important matters demand our attention – and what we prioritise changes at different points.”
The first problem with the phrase “work-life balance” is the language itself. The formulation implies that work is not part of life but something separate and is getting in the way of existence. Life is all-encompassing, however, and work is just one thing that fits in under the greater umbrella. If anything, separating work from life overemphasizes the importance of labour. [Quartz at Work]
I think that there is work and then there is leisure or life and that the two things are separate. There must be a balance between the two.
But I digress.
Let’s look at seven office automation tips that can help you get the most out of your leisure time.
This is not office automation; however, meditation is an essential habit that is a must-learn. The key is to have a clear head. If you meditate when you are busy and when you are on vacation, it will make your work break feel like more of a holiday to your body and you should come back rested.
Dim the (laptop) lights after 6 p.m.
We have all heard or read about the effects of the blue light that the computer screen shines into your eyes for hours at a time. This light can interfere with your body clock.[Blue light at night can disrupt your body clock, but it's not all bad – ABC News Health]
It is suggested that you download F.lux and use it for a few weeks before your vacation to maximise the good sleep that you will surely get whilst on vacation.
Automate receipts and expenses
Apps like Receipt Bank integrate with Wave and Freshbooks and can save you hours of work each week. Receipt Bank allows you to take pictures of your receipts on your phone and you can synchronise all e-copies with the other apps. Easy!
Set up PayPal or use Direct Bank Deposit
This will give you peace of mind knowing that you will be paid for your work because you can keep track of invoices that have been paid.
Use a virtual assistant business
Before you stop reading, I need to break it to you that you do not have to do all the work yourself.
Virtual assistant services are surprisingly effective and can add hours of effective time to your workweek, every week.
Build a relationship with a direct virtual assistant
You might be wondering, what’s the difference between this and the last tip?
A “direct virtual assistant,” means creating and building a relationship with one person who will, over time, get to know the nuances of your business and your personality.
If you haven’t set up recurring invoices yet, now is the time. Be sure to include alternative payment methods.
“At the end of the day, if your back office is automated while you’re on vacation, you might not eliminate the need to work altogether, but you’ll reduce your “check-in” times to a few hours a day (or even just an hour of very productive beach work).” [Justin Hein – July 7, 2016 – GoDaddy Blog]