Automate Your Way To Success

Since each of us has the ability to easily share our opinion online the amount of information that is being created every moment, every day, and every year, is incredible.  With more and more content filling our inbox every day one of the keys to keeping ourselves as small business owners from being inundated with information overload is to automate what we receive.  In order to manage your time better, find ways to automate.

Email Automation Tools

These are great ways to automate what information we receive in our email inbox.  This is key when trying to manage your time and focus on the tasks that will make you most successful.

Twitter Automation Tools

With Twitter, you can automate by using:

Automate Your Business

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to regain some of your time and automate some tasks you used to perform manually in email and Twitter consider what it would take to automate the following business tasks:

The more automated your everyday business tasks can become the more you can focus on unique tasks only you can do.  I don’t have all the answers on how to automate everything, but I do challenge you to consider how you can automate more.  Share with me how you’ve achieved automation in the comments section.  I’d love to hear our success story.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs

Gmail Canned Responses – How They Can Work For You

name your canned response

If you send a lot of initial responses to an ad or find yourself writing the same response frequently, then Gmail’s canned responses are perfect for you.  They also work great if you want to use multiple different signatures.  To Start using canned responses, make sure you have labs enabled.

Click the labs icon:

google labs

Enable canned responses:

enable canned responses

Click save at the bottom of the labs page:

save changes

Now go ahead and compose a new message:

compose new email

You’ll see your regular message signature in the new email and you can save this if you’d like or clear it out and write a new response.

regular email

Once the body of the message says what you want it to say, just click the “Canned Response” link and select “Save>New canned response..”

canned response

Next you’ll see a window pop up that asks you to name your canned response.  Fill it out and click ok.

name your canned response

If you want to have a single line canned response, just be sure to clear the body of the message including your signature before saving a new canned response.  Once you have a few different canned responses you can choose them when composing a new message:

use one line response

Take a few minutes and create some responses that will save you time.  Until just recently I hadn’t tried the canned responses feature but I am finding it to be a huge time saver already.

Let me know how you are using canned responses in the comments section!

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Train Your Inbox With Boxcar

If you are like me, you get way too much email in a day, not to mention countless RSS streams, mentions, and Facebook Pokes.  Just before starting this post I looked and in the last 24 hours 265 messages hit my inbox that were unfiltered.  Looking at messages that were filtered, in total I see that I received around 400 in the past 24 hours.  That is entirely too much email to read.  Even though I religiously unsubscribe from things I don’t want to read anymore, and I create smart filters it can still be overwhelming.

Running an I.T. consulting firm for small businesses requires a lot of my energy.  One thing we work hard to do is respond as quickly as possible to our clients needs.  ZigZap has already put tools like Zendesk in place, so we do receive email alerts right away when we have a ticket opened up.  The trouble is that even though I am an email addict and watch my inbox closely, there are still times where I won’t see that message for 3-5 minutes while I have other tabs open, or when I step out for lunch and don’t have mail open on my iPhone.  After hearing Podcast Answer Man mention Boxcar in a recent podcast with Pat Flynn I decided to check it out, and I am glad I did.

Here’s how to turn it on

Search for Boxcar in the App store and install it:

boxcar in the itunes app store

Next open the app and go to the settings page and choose “Add and Edit Services”:

Boxcar Push Notifications Settings Page add a new boxcar service

If you choose Facebook then it will ask you to authorize like this:

connect boxcar to facebook fill in your facebook account information to connect to boxcar

Once it’s loaded you can edit your settings and notices, including what app it opens:

facebook is connected with boxcar push notification service choose which facebook app boxcar opens

You can also choose what sounds it plays:

choose what sound your boxcar notification makes

Since Facebook already has a lot of this functionality, I was more interested in the email push.

Email Push Setup

Simply get back to the setup screen and choose email and name your new notice:

add a new boxcar service name your new boxcar notification

You can choose the sound, and then click save.

Next click the email address box that shows in the bottom of the app setup view.  It should be an address similar to this “”.  Email it to yourself and be sure to title the filter name in the email.

email yourself the boxcar email address

Now you need to setup forwarding in gmail to this address.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll get this badge notifciation:

email conformation code from boxcar

Enter that into your gmail account settings page, create filters to push specific emails out, and you can receive notices like I do:

I just got paid push notice from twitter

I love getting payment notices, but more than that I value the instant ticket notices that I receive from remote support or phone customers.  That feature helps me respond faster to my my clients needs.  I hope you found this brief tutorial helpful.  Share in the comments how you end up using Boxcar.  I’m curious to see how it has helped others.

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Filter Messages And Save Your Inbox!

Too Much Email

Even with the invention of the Priority Mailbox we still need to filter our email in order to get our time back from the email wasteland.  I’m sure that there are a million posts on this, but I want you to have a simple guide for instituting a filter right here.

If your logging in and see too much of this:

Too Much Email

Then it’s time to take control back.  To begin, all you need to do is click settings:

click gmail settings

Then go to filters:

gmail filters

Create a new filter:

create a new gmail filter

Fill in the ways you want to filter, for instance, filter anything from any email address.  Or you could filter anything with the word “Twitter” in it.  You can test your search to see how it works before you move onto the next step, so be sure to do that.

who are you filtering gmail messages from

Once you’re pleased with your selection, click next, and fill in the following options.  You can label the message (similar to what a folder in email used to do), or you can just archive it so you don’t have to read it.  There are many other settings here, so explore them and see what works you.  Remember, you can always delete a filter and restore whatever you’d like to your inbox or another location, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

setup your gmail filter settings

Once you are satisfied with your filter settings, choose to either apply it to the existing messages that fit the filter, or only apply it to new message that come in.  Once you’ve checked or unchecked that box, click “Create Filter” and you’re all set!

apply the new gmail filter to your existing messages and create filter

Now when you go back to your inbox, if you chose to apply the filter as I did, you should be back to a very manageable inbox:

inbox heaven with gmail filters

Although it takes some time to setup filters properly, it’s well worth the time.

Don’t be fooled by the calendar.  There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.  ~ Charles Richards

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