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  • Writer's pictureLauren Evans

3 Free Automation Tools my Business Uses Every Day [+ Free Automation Download]

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

In today's fast-paced business world, every minute counts.

As a business owner, the best way to increase productivity and streamline processes is through automation.

Automating redundant and tedious business tasks not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors and improves overall efficiency.

Plus, why would you want to spend your time doing something if there’s a program out there that can do it for you for FREE!

In this blog, I’ll share three of the best free automation tools that my business uses every day and how they've helped me save time and focus on growing my business.

Please note, some of the links on this page might be affiliate links, meaning if you take action (ex. subscribe, make a purchase), I might earn a little something at no extra cost to you. Any recommendations I make for programs or tools are because I truly believe in them and have actual experience using them.


Screenshot of Trello Automations "Create a Rule" page on a laptop
Screenshot from Trello Automations

Trello Automations

I use Trello every day to help me organize and stay on top of my client projects, internal projects, and content ideas.

If you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s an online list-making, project management, and process automation tool with a Kanban-style layout.

One of my favorite Trello features is the built-in automations tool where you can create these three different types of custom automations:

  • RULES - Programming actions to take place every time something occurs or a date approaches. For instance, adding a checklist every time a new card is added or adding a new card to your board every 15th of the month.

  • BUTTONS - Programming actions to take place every time a card or board button is pressed. For example, every time the “Done” button on a card is clicked, a “Done” label gets added to the card, the due date is marked complete, and the card is moved to the “Completed” list.

  • REPORTS - Receive weekly emails with reports about your Trello boards and assigned cards. For instance, each week you receive an email listing all your cards with upcoming due dates.

I’ve even created Trello Automations for my clients that simplify and automate their entire client onboarding and project management workflows.

To see an example of how Trello Automations work, here’s a short video I put together showing the different automation types.


Screenshot of building a Zapier automation to automatically save receipts that I'm emailed
Screenshot from Zapier

Zapier

For avoiding redundant tasks like moving content ideas from my Trello board into my production board in Notion, I use Zapier.

Zapier is an online tool that allows you to connect different web-based programs so you can send information between them, automate manual tasks, and ultimately, save yourself a lot of time.

On a very simple level, Zapier can automate basic admin tasks, like saving the receipts I receive in Gmail to my receipts folder in the Cloud.

When it comes to more complex, multi-step tasks, like your client onboard workflow, here’s an example of how a Zapier automation might work (this would require a paid subscription):

  • Every time a potential new client schedules a consultation with you through Calendly (online appointment booking tool), the information gets sent to FreshBooks (CRM system).

  • Based on the Zap or automated sequence you set up, Zapier will take the potential new client information from Calendly and add it exactly where it’s programmed to go in Google Contacts, making sure details like the first name and email address don’t get mixed up.

  • Zapier will then take that same potential new client information from Calendly and add it exactly where it’s been programmed to go in FreshBooks.

  • Zapier will also tell FreshBooks to start a new estimate for the potential customer it just added and leave it as a draft.

Zapier also has an incredible Transfers feature that allows you to bulk transfer information from one program to another in just a few seconds. I use this when I need to upload a list of dates to my calendar or when I want to change programs and quickly transfer all my data from the old program to the new one.

If you’d like to see Zapier Transfers in action, here’s a short video I shared on Instagram.


Screenshot of an Apple Shortcuts designed to automatically save new ideas to Trello
Screenshot from Apple Shortcuts

Apple Shortcuts

When I want to be able to do something quickly from my iPhone, like when I suddenly have a new idea for social media content or a blog post, I turn to Apple Shortcuts.

Apple Shortcuts allows you to build custom automations, just like Trello and Zapier automations, only they’re designed specifically to be used on and with information from your Apple devices.

Here are some examples of Apple Shortcuts I’ve created to help me save time and stay organized in life and business:

  • PDF to Image - If I’d like to turn a PDF file into an image, I simply open the PDF, press the share button, and select this “PDF to Image” Shortcut to automatically convert the file to an image and save it in my Recent Photos folder. >> Download the PDF to Image Apple Shortcut.

  • Save to Trello - When inspiration strikes and I want to quickly save a new content idea to my Trello board, I press the “New Idea” button on my home screen and a pop-up will appear asking me for the name of the idea and any notes I want to record before the information gets added to the “New Ideas” list in Trello. >> Download the Save to Trello Shortcut.

  • Southwest Check-in - As soon as I book a Southwest flight, I click on this Shortcut and my phone will search for upcoming flights on my calendar and present them in a pop-up screen. Once I select the flight I just booked, my phone automatically creates a calendar event and an iPhone reminder 5 minutes before check-in time. >> Download the Southwest Check-in Shortcut.

Apple Shortcuts can even be programmed to do things without needing to press a button first. For instance, you can schedule things to occur when you connect to your car’s Bluetooth, at 6 am every weekday morning, or when you get a message from your clients.

If you’re not sure where to start with automations, you can scroll through the app’s Gallery for ready-to-use Shortcuts you can add to your phone.

Want to see a shortcut in action? Check out this quick video where I share how the PDF to Image Apple Shortcut works.

 

Once you start automating your work, it’s amazing how much time you can save and how your thinking will change.

The next time you’re doing busy work or redundant tasks, you’ll probably start thinking of ways you can automate it.

And that’s a wonderful thing!

I firmly believe that once you’ve established a process for something, you should streamline and automate it as much as possible.

If you’d like help reviewing your processing and automating your workflows, schedule a Discovery Call and we can get started.

For more business tips and information to help save you time, money, and headaches, be sure to subscribe to my email list and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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