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05 Mar

Get small tasks done automatically using Microsoft Power Automate

Datum: 2024-03-05 10:25
An assembly line of industrial robots in a manufacturing plant.

Most peo­ple want to use the time we spend work­ing as effi­cient­ly as pos­si­ble — part­ly because we then have time to do the things that will have the great­est impact and are most impor­tant in our work, and part­ly since we then get time for oth­er things than work.

Some of the things we have to do com­prise our core tasks” — the assign­ments and tasks that char­ac­ter­ize the job we have, which prob­a­bly are the tasks we want to spend most of our time doing.

But, I myself and many oth­ers I meet have plen­ty of oth­er small tasks to do, which nei­ther feels par­tic­u­lar­ly enrich­ing nor actu­al­ly con­tribute with much val­ue, but which still needs to get done so that the core tasks can get done prop­er­ly in turn. Some tasks are so small and short that we can bare­ly refer to them as tasks”. They are more like oper­a­tions” or steps”. And yet, they still require some of that most pre­cious resource — time.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

RPA for Microsoft-users

The more we can get these minor tasks done auto­mat­i­cal­ly, the more time (and ener­gy, for that mat­ter) we have for the core tasks. I have been using the automa­tion ser­vice Zapi­er for a long time and am quite fond of it, but for those who work in a Microsoft envi­ron­ment (which is the major­i­ty of my clients), it is not the first choice. Microsoft actu­al­ly has its own app for robot­ic process automa­tion” (RPA) named Pow­er Auto­mate.

Flows for what we want to get done

In Pow­er Auto­mate, as in Zapi­er, you decide what action you want fol­low­ing a cer­tain some­thing hap­pen­ing. You can, for instance, cre­ate a flow that:

  • sends you a noti­fi­ca­tion when you receive an email from a spe­cif­ic per­son (and only then!)
  • gen­er­ates a new to-do-task in Microsoft To-Do if a new card is cre­at­ed on a Trel­lo-board you share with others
  • ensures that any attach­ments you receive in emails sent to your Out­look are saved in OneDrive
  • auto­mat­i­cal­ly move a file that always gets saved in a par­tic­u­lar fold­er to the right fold­er, where you pre­fer it to be
  • … and much, much more.

Do this

Does it sound tempt­ing to let Pow­er Auto­mate do parts of your job? Then have a look at it and try to think of ways in which you could use it. There is a nice guid­ed tour as well as short how-to videos and guides that will help you get started.

If you would rather get going straight away, Microsoft has pro­vid­ed a num­ber of tem­plates to start with when you begin build­ing flows. Per­haps you are not the only one who is dying to get rid of some tiny recur­ring and tedious tasks?

You will find every­thing you need to know about Pow­er Auto­mate over at Microsoft.

Focus­ing on what matters

If you allow a ser­vice such as Flow to per­form some of the small­er oper­a­tions and tasks you can­not get out of doing, you will be able to focus more on all those tru­ly impor­tant tasks. Less time wast­ed on the lit­tle things, and more time for what mat­ters most.

Do you use it for some­thing else?

What do you use Flow for? The tool is rather new and I for one have only found a frac­tion of all its func­tions and fea­tures. If you have found some real­ly good uses, please share them with me!

(But, will we stop think­ing when we have auto­mat­ed parts of our work?)

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