Productivity Academy Live Q&A – Episode 72

Join us live each week at and get your questions answered by submitting them at any time right here: You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on February 28th, 2019 above, or you can review the transcript below.

In this episode we talked about: Automating important processes like reminders, backups and finances using apps like Zapier and Google Calendar

To find recommended tools and other great resources, check out the Productivity Academy Resource Toolkit:

Alright, we are live. Welcome everybody. And getting started on episode number 72 of the productivity Academy live Q&A. Today is the 28th of February 2019. And we’ve got some cool stuff. Today we’re going to dive into a little bit of automation. But it’s going to go over automating reminders across several tools. Let’s see backing up files. This is an important one I hear about. You know, if you’re scared about losing your Bibles are scared about where you’re already backing them up. You can automate this you don’t have to always be copying stuff back and forth.

Also, we’ve got backing up contacts, not just your contact list, but for those of you who are emailing you have email involved in your business. The follow up question would be if you own a business and you’re not emailing, what are you doing, but I’ve heard some real horror stories, you know, people who lost their email list or they got shut down by their email service provider for something and then they had their list no more.

That is something you definitely want to avoid. And then automating financial data reporting. This can be really time consuming. For those of you who’ve got your own businesses Doing this will save a ton of time and save you a lot of money up front as well from having to have a bookkeeper and manually enter a lot of stuff. So you can automate this save yourself time, save some money. So we’re going to jump into that in a second.

Real quick. If you’re watching live and you’ve got questions, go ahead and you can ask those and I will check back on those as I’m going forward. If we have time we’ll get to those. If you’re not watching live, I urge you to click below. Come join us in the productivity Academy group. It’s free. You do have to answer a couple of questions, make sure you actually want to be in a group of people talking about productivity, time management, automation, all that sort of good stuff. And if you’re checking out the replay on YouTube, hit subscribe.

If you want to stay up to date, get reminded of these Q and A’s as well as updated videos, reviews, all sorts of good stuff like that. So with that said, we are going to transition over here to Zapier. So the first thing I want to talk about is reminders and automating these and this is starting at low level want to make sure we’re all on the same page. But this is stuff too so you can get this out of your head.

And the main idea behind this and the benefit is that you’re not you know, scribbling down on a notepad Oh, I need to remind somebody later I need to remind myself later I need to do this or that okay, getting this stuff out of your head that’s a killer because one you’re going to forget something sooner or later right and then you know reflects poorly on you in terms of your dependability and people relying on you.

If you’re trying to help someone else by reminding them, so you don’t have to add their stuff on top of all of the stuff you’ve got to do, you can just automate some of this. So you got a couple options. There’s tools that will probably prompt you to do something. And that may be what you need something like to do list. And then you’ve got tools like communication tools, like slack. If you’re already using slack for your team, then that’s great. Because you can just hop in there and create some reminders. Let me show you what I mean. Real quick. Let’s switch screens here.

Okay. So logged into my team’s account and I’m just doing my my personal account and there’s the slash remind function All right, you can look at someone or channel So let’s say I wanted to remind Alex You know, this is this needs to be done and then you can just use what you know we call human. You know, just how you would speak we could say this needs to be done. It needs to be done tomorrow.

At 2pm, if you hit enter, you get that little thumbs up, okay? It worked. And if it doesn’t, you’ll get an error message, which is really handy. But this is great. So 2pm tomorrow PST, which is where I’m at and channel and automatically all of the public channels, which are these ones up here without the little lock icon on them show up. But you can also do this with your locked channels.

But I’ll go ahead and say awesome sauce channel, you know, let’s all say what we did today. Today, let’s call 2pm today. All right. And again, you hit enter, you get a nice little I’ll remind the channel so it’s going to post a message and say, let’s say what we did at 2pm today. So pretty basic, but actually some pretty powerful functionality there that a lot of people aren’t aware of. And this can save you that back and forth of having you know, write a note or put a note like it for example, on to do list and then get that word, reminder and then go do something or like remind something’s or remind somebody of something.

So I find that that helps save a lot of time and you can really, I don’t know, I just enjoy it a lot because it saves me from having all that mental build up over time reminding people are reminding myself so great to get off your plate. Okay, last one outside of Zapier is calendar and I would just say that, you know, use your calendar how you want, there’s ways you can automate this but I do like Google Calendar because you can choose to get different types of alerts, right.

You can get notifications and you can get emails and then if you want to, you could tie that into tools like Zapier where it looks for a specific string, so let’s say you could have a zap set up where it looks for events called like my reminders and needs to be unique or it’s going to take everything that says that and then you can do whatever you want to Zapier connects to basically anything so that’s one way of doing I’m not going to go into that.

Yeah, why not? Let’s do it. So let’s hop over into Zapier. So what I’m talking about with this, and I’ve gone ahead and drawn up what you do, just click on creatives app, and we’re going to call this calendar reminder. And let’s choose an app. We want to start with the calendar. All right, Google Calendar, and it’s going to look when new event matching search is what I was talking about. So let’s save and continue and just choose your calendar and then you need to choose which one we’ve got a row I didn’t find any calendars in my account. That’s not good. Well, let’s see if we can get this to work while we’re live here.

All right, well, let’s follow their instructions is telling me to go and reconnect so I am going to do that. bring this back on. Face real quick and let’s reconnect, the joy of watching someone do this live.

All right. Alright, cool calendar.

Okay, let’s hop back we got that sorted out. So let’s go back in here and see if it will probably refresh the page. And this is something to keep in mind while you’re setting these up, you may get frustrated and come across little errors like this. And the thing I like to remind myself is, even if this took you an hour to set up if you’re doing especially a recurring task or something where it’s going to save a minute, two minutes, maybe five minutes, but it happens once or twice, or three times a week.

And then you calculate that out over how much time this is going to save you in a month or a year, this stuff becomes pretty trivial when you realize, okay, it took me 30 minutes to set one of these up, but it’s going to save me an hour a month. So for this, I’m just going to move forward since obviously, something’s going wrong here. And it’s just not going to show us right now. I’m sure there’s something probably user error related. But let’s go on to the next one.

And so the next one that I was talking about was going to be the backing up the file. So this could be important for you personally, if you want to backup your files to kind of avoid having them all in one spot, as well as having a team and so this is where we’ve used it before, where for example, let’s say we have a Team Drive account where people are going in and everyone has access. There’s a lot of people who have edit access. So that means they could delete files, they could overwrite things, they could update stuff. And so what we’ll do is create a backup of that to Dropbox.

So that stuff is constantly getting updated Dropbox. Now Google Drive does have its own backup feature, but I believe it’s limited to 30 days. So after something’s deleted, you have 30 days and then it’s gone. And there’s a lot of reasons you may want to do this. But it is a lot better than being you know, did I backup something or am I going to try to like download folders? Or do you know something horribly manual like that are paying someone to do it when you can set this up stuff up pretty quick.

So let’s hop back into here and we will go back to the dashboard. Yeah, definitely some errors with that. Let’s make this up. And we will come in here and we’re going to say Dr. is the one, right. And this is where you can, this is where you can choose a little bit of how you want to do this. For my case, I would say that generally you’re trying to backup an entire Drive folder, but you could go in a specific folder, but you’ve got to be aware, you can do it in its sub folders.

And then you could go with some updated files as well, generally. So the new one is nice, because that gives you the ability to backup new files. But then if they’re changed, you don’t update or you don’t copy those over. So it’s kind of a good historical saving. So let’s take that and we’ll grab that and we’re just going to put my Google Drive. Yeah, you don’t have to specify it. I’m just telling it just in case and okay. We’ve got a bunch of different files if you want to, you can always look at these and see what they are.

Okay, action step. That’s great. So this is where to you could add something in Do you want to filter to a certain time, you know, are you looking for certain named files if there’s, you know a way you need or want to narrow this down in our case we’re just going to go ahead and choose something like we’re going to backup to Dropbox I’m sure there’s other options you might have okay and we again this can be tailored to exactly what you need.

Perhaps you want to find a folder or you want to backup to a specific folder you can do many more steps in this but I want to show you the basics so that you can tailor this to what you need alright so we are going to upload the file because it’s now taken and said okay there’s a new file now I just want to upload it and all you would do here in this case I don’t have my Dropbox account connected in this account but you would just connect it and continue this is real simple one just wanted to show that this stuff can all be done in the background so pretty cool so hopefully that topia are helpful.

I think that that’s a great way to have like a double backup, and we’ve done that before for various as it says in a couple businesses it’s nice to have so you’re like I said, you’re not just going back and forth so real quick and I’ll check and see if we have any questions.

Cool. Alright we’re going to keep moving okay so backing up contact This one is pretty cool and again I mentioned it’s not just in case you get shut down because I don’t know if you’ve heard about this I certainly have where you know somebody’s account got shut down like a MailChimp account or Active Campaign or whatever it is that you’re using. And if that happens to you, and you’re locked out of that account, they have your data, right. If you didn’t export it, then you’re out of luck. Okay, for a lot of people that could literally ruin a business for others might be a huge pain in the butt depending on what exactly is going on how your business operates. So something we could do.

And there’s more than one reasons you might want to do this, you could use this as a backup. But you could also do this, for example, to grab that email, put it into a spreadsheet, and then maybe use that to automate, like some customer onboarding stuff, or a new subscriber, you know, they just, instead of having to do it all through, let’s say, you’re using MailChimp or Active Campaign on that system, and figuring all that out. If you want to do something truly custom, then you could do that.

So maybe you want to, they bought something, you could send them custom gifts through one of the services that has an API where you can ship their information over and then it’s all handled automatically. So there’s a lot of cool stuff that branches off of this basic idea. So let’s head over to the second monitor and we will go back and abandon this little zap. So let’s go in here. I’m going to start with Active Campaign again, this would be the same if it is MailChimp whatever it is.

Let’s actually go and see, let’s see if they have, I guess they don’t do it just by General name. But they have Active Campaign. Of course they have MailChimp. Gmail, there’s a bunch see Zoho. Yep. They got a bunch of stuff in here. So you could connect this to just about anything. Okay, so let’s look at this. So for there’s a lot of options for Active Campaign. This is really cool. And the best part about deaf ear to they’re updating all the time that don’t remove stuff unless it literally no longer functions, but they’ll add a lot of great stuff. We have updated contact, new campaign, New Deal new or updated contact. Okay, that’s great. A new contact is added. So this would probably be what you want to use to backup an entire account or you could select just a list so let’s just go with new contact.

Alright, and I’m going to select the list, we’ve got productivity Academy. So let’s do that. So people who opt in, get put on that and skip unsubscribe events. Yeah, we definitely don’t want to do that. Because in this case, I’m just using this as a backup. So we could go continue.

Okay, pulls in your data, you can check that if you need to.

And then your step. Again, you can add in filters, you can do whatever it is you need to do here. And then in our case, we’re just going to add it to a spreadsheet. So we’ve already set one up in another tab so that we don’t have to spend time but this is something you would need to do. So let me drag this over here real quick. You would need to have a spreadsheet and this case this is real basic. Of course, there could be more data maybe you’re asking subscribers for other information or to fill out a form or something like that. In this case, I just set up this real basic one gave it a name so I can find it and then email, name and other so let’s go back into this up.

Alright, we are going to create a spreadsheet row. That’s what we want to do. We don’t want to create the worksheet that’s already done and we don’t want to update a row we want to create one.

Okay, now we just need to tell it which one it is. So spreadsheet is the one I just created. So we’re going to call it to the subscriber backup and the worksheet is just the default in this case, there’s only one sheet so that’s what you’re always going to see if you just create a Google Sheet and there’s nothing more specified.

Okay, I am going to pull back real quick and make sure that we’re not showing any data here. So let me see but you would just do the drop downs. Alright, perfect. So it’s showing the test data which is really nice.

That Zapier does this. A lot of times, if you haven’t pulled in real data yet, you can see that okay, yes, I want to use step one. And then what do you want to go under email. Now, what these are, these are the headers from the spreadsheet. Okay, so this is the spreadsheet I created with email name and other and now you’re seeing those right here.

So in this case, we would look and say, Okay, yeah, step one. What do I want to match up here? Would it be contact email address? Yep, that’s exactly it. Okay. And then name might be first name might be the whole name depends on how you do it will just put the first name and then other could be something else. Let me scroll down here. Okay.

We could have phone number or we could have contact organization name. I’m just going to put that on there. Okay.

And then of course, we always want to test so let’s send the test and if I bring this over Hey successful so went right there. And that’s how you today, so really nice. And you could go back and delete this if you need to. But now we’re showing that that’s working. And we can now finish it up. And there’s two things we want to do. We want to give our Zappa name and we want to, I generally advise being very specific with this. So this would be like Active Campaign new sub to call it g sheet, just to make it nice and short. And we get assigned to the folder that’s just for organization purposes. And the last thing you would do is turn it off.

Okay, you just didn’t really Wait a second and wait for it to come up. Depending on how complex this is. It could take five or 10 seconds. I’ve had it take up to a minute sometimes. All right, and then you can go about your business. So this will start working immediately my case I’m going to turn it off because I’ve got other stuff set up and this is just a test but that is literally how simple it is to do this. And then the ideas like I was saying at the beginning, now you’ve got this stuff in spreadsheet.

And so if you’re paying for Zapier and you have multi step zaps, now you could trigger that. Or you could have another step and say, like I said, like, oh, I’ve got it tied into an order fulfillment service. So when a new email and name, hit this, it takes that and sends that somewhere else and on and on and on, or you could have another zap referencing this. So when that she does updated stuff is happening. So there’s a lot of really cool stuff that you can do from there.

But that’s kind of like the baseline for that. And that started the How to is, you know, just backing up some new subscribers, you know, that could be from a newsletter, you have an email list, or it could be from other areas. So, you know, this is really versatile.

All right, do a quick check back on page. All right now, the last thing that I wanted to cover today was adding financial data. Okay, this can become a really complex. Anyone who’s worked with stuff like QuickBooks or any of that financial software I’ve never heard anyone be like yeah I get to work with QuickBooks or yeah I get to import my financial data today and you know at first it can start out that it’s it’s small it’s like oh I just need to export once a week and you know it takes me two minutes and I do this and I do that the stuff starts to really add up over time okay and as well as okay well if you’re doing more transactions and maybe now you’re getting the point where you’re having a bookkeeper do it or you’re having to sit down and review the longer you go in between those manual exports and imports that the more reconciliation you have to do.

Okay, so this is one that can end up saving you a lot of time as well as helping your team go if you’re having a bookkeeper a CPA someone like that get into this, then they’re going to want to be tied in and have you probably set this up so that they aren’t wasting their time doing manual imports and exports and waiting, you know on data, they also would appreciate having this and you’re going to get the better financial data by having this stuff sped up. So with that said, what does this look like? Well, let’s switch over to the second monitor again.

And we’ll go back to the dashboard and create a news that okay, and this case, we’re going to keep it pretty simple. I will come back real quick to say. So again, just as a simple two step, what we’re going to do is look at stuff like depends where you’re processing your payments. It could be like a shopping cart like now there’s a lot out there. I know Infusionsoft. I’m not sure. If thrive cart is in Zapier.

Let’s see. They say fusion soft, Samcart could be directly from stripe or PayPal. And then you want to get this stuff into a accounting piece of software, something like QuickBooks I mentioned or zero. I think Zoho has their own but there’s a ton of financial software out there and it’s up to you what you want to. So let’s switch back over here and go through this. So we might say that not sure if I have a Samcart account connected, but let’s try it. All right, we want to say a new order comes through.

All right, I don’t have it connected, that’s too bad. So I may not have them connected right now, in which case I’m just going to leave it for now, the idea behind this too is that it’s, it’s really easy, right? Like all the other ones we’ve done, we connect in the count and on that end, it’s dead simple. You just need to tell it what account it is. I’m losing my mind as I think about connecting the account.

Oh, well, obviously what the account is and then what is the trigger of that like we saw is that a new orders that are refunded order is it something like that so that’s really all you need to do on the trigger and and then as we go back in here to what the action is going to be, you would end up picking something like we talked about zero.

In here, or let’s see, QuickBooks is online. And they say premium. And all that means is that it’s a. It’s a premium connection in the sense that you can’t have a free account with them and get connected to that. And if you’re using this for something like QuickBooks, you’re probably already paying for QuickBooks and zero, things like that. But then the connection will go back, you would just select one and then tell it what you want to do. Do you want to create an invoice.

Do you need a sales receipt, create a customer. In this case, I don’t work with QuickBooks. So I’m just going to take this out of here and you can just delete that step. Let’s go back and we’ll choose zero. All right, same thing. invoice update contact create a bill creates payment applies a payment let’s see what else they have creates purchase order a credit notice. So anyways, this is stuff where if you’re not sure what it is, there’s tons of support and I’m not good.

Dive into each one of those. Like I said, there’s zero. There’s QuickBooks or so there’s all these other ones, you just need to figure out how you’re mapping those fields, just like we did with the spreadsheet, and the email subscriber. So it’s really pretty simple. And then you just click that test button, make sure that things went in there, correctly deleted, start over again, if necessary, edited a little bit. But it’s really simple. And again, you know, this would be something you could set up in, like 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and would save you so much time instead of having to do like manual stuff, and all of that. So hopefully, these are helpful for you.

This stuff has saved me so much time. And this is really the tip of the iceberg just as an estimate the reminders, you know, that’s something where it’s not so much the time with the reminders, but it’s the mental energy that goes into it, either reminding myself or thinking, ah, there’s something the team needs to know about, but I if I tell them now, it’s not going to be really applicable until six hours Should I set a timer for myself and note in slack or wherever it is, I can just write that out real quick and then the team gets notified.

With exactly what I was thinking at that time super helpful backing up the files that’s another one it’s both mental and time savings you know may not take a long time but going in somewhere knowing which files to download downloading them you know two or three minutes and then uploading them waiting for that to be completed and then making sure that you know you’re not forgetting about it if it’s on a weekly or monthly recurring task is a big one backing up the contacts that we went over that can be a huge one saving you not only a lot of time but saving you from a lot of pain if you have issues with your email service provider and then the last one with the financial data that is just awesome.

I can’t talk about can’t talk it up enough that’s another simple one where you know you just plug in whatever using for your shopping cart like Sam cart or stripe or PayPal and then map that over to your accounting software. And that stuff just regularly goes from one to the other. And that way you are your bookkeeper.

Don’t have to do a lot of this manual import, it’s all there and it’s done almost in real time I think was depending on what level of Zapier using, there’s a 10 or 15 minute delay. But anyways, that stuff can save a ton of time, make your life a lot easier. So you have any questions about other automation or ones that get more complex, feel free to ask me about him, you can either drop it on the page, wherever you’re viewing this, I also included the link to the upcoming training, we’re going to be diving more into some more complete more built out automation.

If you want to do that check out the voting poll have included the link and I’m saying that that’s what we’re going to do, because that is the one that is clearly winning. There’s actually a vote ongoing right now, but that’s winning by a landslide. The other one would be dealing with distractions, which I also hear from quite a few people about as far as how to deal with and how to how to kind of get that laser focus going instead of feeling like you’re distracted, whether it’s audio or visual or people or whatever.

So anyways, thanks for watching. That’s going to do it for this week and looking forward to coming back and talking to everybody next week. Thanks.

About the author

Adam Moody

I'm Adam Moody with the Productivity Academy. Get your productivity, time management, automation, and organization questions answered here. Be sure to check out the Productivity Academy YouTube Channel.

Looking for some great resources to help increase your productivity starting today? Click here for the Productivity Academy Resources.

By Adam Moody

Subscribe on YouTube

Recent Posts