On Automation

I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: ‘You’ve got mail’.

Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

I sent the message, just as I did every 1st of the month.

I grabbed an Excel file from a server, attached it to an email, and sent it to our client.

At the time, I thought it was a five-minute task. I now realize how disruptive it was to stop and re-start work to send that email. Now my estimate would be that it stole at least half an hour of my time every month, likely more.

Worse than the amount of time it took, I was inconsistent. To err is human. Occasionally, on the third or fourth day of the month, I’d get an email from our client.

              Hi Jared,

              I didn’t see the spreadsheet come through. Could you send it to me ASAP?


My stomach sank reading those occasional emails. I had let something fall between the cracks, made a customer unhappy, and for what reason? It would have taken the same amount of time whether I sent it early or late.

After the nth time doing this, I had an idea. I could automate this. Of course! It’s just a series of rote steps I do over, and over, and over again. This would be perfect for automation!

Although I had never used it before, I dove into Microsoft Flow (now Microsoft Power Automate) and within about an hour and forty-five minutes I had it figured out. On the first of the month, it would get the latest Excel file on the server using credentials I had generated for this purpose, attach the Excel file to an email, and send it to person.

I never had that sinking feeling again.

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