With bleary eyes and a sore wrist, you send another email about the status of a project – the third time today you’ve had to check in with an update – and it’s starting to get repetitive. You might feel like the only way to get these responsibilities done is to do them yourself, so you put your creativity (and sometimes your morale) on the back-burner. But there are ways to automate repetitive tasks and make more room for the parts of your job that you love, leaving room for you to be creative and inspired.
What is a repetitive task?
According to recent data from McKinsey, one-third of all responsibilities for over half of all occupations are repetitive – and they could be automated. But what exactly are these repetitive tasks, and why are they taking up so much time?
The action of booking and scheduling meetings is a repetitive ritual that can take up a few minutes every hour. However, it can compound into hours each week. Think about going back and forth over email, playing phone tag, or waiting for responses from one or two parties, all to book your next meeting. Even if you’re doing something as simple as finding free time on someone else’s Calendly or sending out a Zoom link, that still can take time out of an already busy day.
No matter where you work, all knowledge workers are subjected to apps. And the more apps your company has, the more you’ll need to transfer information from one app to another. This is especially the case if you have clients who don’t use your app or if your company is attempting to switch from one app to another.
Data collection and management
As the lifeblood of all businesses, data is of the utmost importance – unfortunately, data management encompasses some of the most repetitive tasks of all. Whether you’re entering data into a piece of software, clicking through Dropbox searching for the spreadsheet you need to answer your coworker’s question, or sorting through data in a survey, these tasks can become monotonous.
Proofs and updates
Lastly, a task that can become highly repetitive is checking and re-checking to see if action items have been proofed and approved. In your Slack chat, this can manifest in long, unwieldy threads you have to spend time scrolling through to find the latest version of your project. You can also be spending repetitive hours sending update emails after every addition to your shared Google Doc.
How repetitive tasks can impact your work performance
Repetitive tasks aren’t just an annoyance – they can harm your work performance. They can cause undue stress on workers and make a job seem much more boring or lackluster than it actually is.
In fact, employees spend time wishing that they had more time to try new things at work, says a study from UiPath. Respondents told surveyors that, on average, they “waste” four and a half hours per week on automatable tasks. Around 68 percent wish they could take on new responsibilities at work but feel they don’t have the time due to repetitive tasks.
Additionally, repetitive tasks can be impacted by human error. The more you do something routine, the more your mind will wander. You could assume that you could do the job with your eyes closed, but even the most basic data entry tasks take some form of attention. Studies show that repetitive tasks can increase physical and mental fatigue, impacting accuracy.
Finally, data shows that repetitive tasks can drain creativity from employees. A study from ServiceNow showed that 70 percent of managers have less time for strategic initiatives due to an excess of manual, repetitive work. Additionally, over a third of managers say that these manual processes are the most recurrent parts of their job. In the study from UiPath, 58 percent say that they aspire to be more creative at work, but they feel that repetitive tasks are holding them back.
The automation solution
Thankfully, there’s one beneficial way to handle repetitive, energy-draining tasks: automation. According to data from McKinsey, 43 percent of respondents believe that if some duties were automated, they would feel free to be more innovative with their teams. Around 72 percent of those surveyed also said that with the time they would save with automation, they would do work that would be more valuable for their organization.
There are a few ways to automate your workspace to eliminate repetitive tasks. You’ll need to consider everything from choosing the right software to having more effective team communication. Just keep reading to find out more.
1. Identify your needs
The easiest way to automate your repetitive tasks is with the right software, but you need to have a clear idea of what needs to be automated to get the most out of your tech. Hive is a project management platform with built-in automation tools to help you minimize redundant work and connect all of your work apps in one single dashboard. You can use Hive Automate to trigger holds on projects, change an action’s assignee, or even more an action item to a different project if you collaborate with another team. Learn more about how you can save time with Hive Automate here.
2. Focus on the workflow
Automation isn’t just about the particular task that you’re tackling – it’s about making your entire workflow automatic, easy, and operational. With that mindset, you can try automating processes not with new tech but with new protocols. By creating inventive team charters, streamlining your workflow, and being imaginative with manualizing repetitive tasks, you can cut down on busy work.
Software like Comindware offers business processing modeling for fluid workflow models.
3. Use your free time wisely
As you begin to automate tasks, you might notice that you’ll have more time to think about the content of what you’re sharing rather than the act of sharing it. Rather than focusing on the task itself, focus on the information you’re looking to share – is there a more effective way to share it? Can we accomplish this information exchange in less time with more inventiveness? Think on a meta-level, and cultivate new methods for discussing, updating, and knowledge-sharing among your team.