Automation is Key: Automate the Web

This is the first in a series of posts about taking advantage of automation to improve your efficiency. In this post I’ll show you how to Automate the Web with Firefox and various online services.

First tip is to use an RSS reader to aggregate all the sites you read regularly. This is huge! There are so many websites that we want to read but it takes a long time to go to each site and see if there’s anything new or interesting. An RSS Reader automates the process of getting all the latest posts so you don’t have to check all your bookmarks every day. try Bloglines or Google Reader.

Tip Two is to install iMacros. iMacros allows you to simply record what you do in either Firefox or Internet Explorer in the same way that you would for Excel. It has the added coolness that you can encode your macro into a link and pass it around to friends or put it on your desktop. Say you want to download a particular page everyday, or there’s a form you fill out often. This tool will let you click once and do everything for you. With iMacros, anything you can do in the browser you can automate.

Tip Three is learn to love the scheduler. There’s nothing more beautiful than automating something away. I have a backup program that runs on my computer, I don’t have to run anything and yet I know that everyday my hard drive is being backed up, and my data is safe from a computer melt down. If you find that there is a task which you can automate think about if you can schedule it. As another example, I wrote a simple macro which pings to notify that my websites have been updated. It’s a task that I usually forgot to do. Now it’s scheduled to run once per day. It never forgets to run.

Put iMacros together with the scheduler and you can get a lot done while you sleep.

Here’s where the power comes in:
Automate the process of getting the latest traffic numbers for your sites, your Adsense income, Feedburner numbers, and AdWords costs. When that finishes, have excel launch with a macro to merge in the latest numbers and generate reports. If you want to automatically update something on your blog from the report have another iMacro which will upload the data to the appropriate place.

Once you’ve recorded those macros once and scheduled them you’ll have all that information gathered and analyzed for you before breakfast.

Let me know if your interested in a more detailed step by step how-to.