Smart Entrepreneurs Use Automation to Become More Efficient. Here Are 6 Ways to Adopt It. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The good news is that with the right tools, entrepreneurs can reduce the number of hours they work through automation.

By Nicholas Leighton

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's not uncommon for business owners to spend many hours during their nights and weekends trying to keep things running. One survey conducted by New York Enterprise Report found that a third of small business owners report working more than 50 hours a week, with 25% putting in more than 60 hours. Unfortunately, this takes entrepreneurs away from other important things in life such as spending time with family.

When most people think of automation, they think of robots and large assembly lines at major manufacturing plants. However, there are lots of simple technologies and software that can bring automation to a single entrepreneur or small team. The journey to automation doesn't have to happen overnight. Start by finding simple things to automate that save a small amount of time (like 10 to 15 minutes a day). With this new time savings, you can then put it into finding even more tasks to automate.

Related Article: How to Regain Work/Life Balance

1. Spend less time checking email

Email is one of the best and worst innovations in time management. On one hand, you can send a message across the globe in a matter of seconds. On the other, professionals waste hundreds of hours each year just reading emails.

Most email programs have built-in automation that is easy to set up. Rules can be established to sort and process your incoming emails to help you find what's important and delete what's not. You can also use email templates to reduce the amount of time it takes to write emails, especially if you send the same email over and over. An alternative to email templates is setting up multiple signatures that feature customized messages.

Related: I Tried 6 Gmail Productivity Tips to Make My Time Spent on Email More Efficient

2. Talk more and type less

Most people can talk much faster than they can type. There are many text dictation programs available on the market, such as Evernote, that can instantly turn your speech into the written word. The only downside is that these programs are far from perfect. Although you might have to do some minor editing, the time savings could be significant. Programs like Grammarly can reduce revision time by helping you proofread and correct spelling, grammar and sentence structure issues.

3. Use automation to streamline research

Entrepreneurs need to stay up to date on the latest trends and information in their industry. However, reading dozens of articles, news stories and industry publications each week requires a lot of time. Tools like Google Alerts can instantly notify you of any new online articles or news that meet your criteria and are relevant to your business.

4. Leverage third-party add-ons or integrations

Many existing technology platforms can be enhanced with third-party programs, add-ons and integrations. For example, Zapier can connect to over 5,000 programs, apps, and software packages that businesses use every day. Other similar programs include Automator (for MAC) and PowerApps (for Microsoft) to automate simple tasks that you perform over and over.

Related Article: The Sales Game Has Changed; Here's How to Keep Up

5. Summon the power of the digital assistant

Most smartphones have built-in digital assistants that can perform basic tasks automatically or by giving simple instructions. Whether you use Siri (iPhone) or Alexa (Android), entrepreneurs can leverage the power of a digital assistant to schedule meetings, send messages, set reminders, check flight status, do math calculations and look up information.

Related Article: Is the 4-Day Work Week Better? Evidence Points to Yes

6. Automate through delegation

Not every form of automation relies on advanced AI technology. Sometimes, you can automate tasks for yourself by simply delegating them to your employees. Simple, repetitive tasks can pull you away from focusing on the big picture of your business. Also, while many entrepreneurs are jack-of-all-trades, unfamiliar tasks like web design and bookkeeping could take longer than they would an expert. Delegating these tasks to others can reduce your workload and make sure more things are functioning seamlessly.

Nicholas Leighton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Best-selling author, speaker & business owner executive coach

Nick Leighton believes that business owners should make more money and have more free time. He does this through his best-selling book "Exactly Where You Want to Be – A Business Owner’s Guide to Passion, Profit and Happiness," speaking and coaching. #ChampagneMoment.

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