A couple of months ago I found myself thinking:
'Is AI actually making me more productive?’
I'm constantly copying and pasting prompts, searching for them in Notion.
Even with using tools like TextExpander or TextBlaze (which I love), I'd struggle to recall whether my snippet for an ‘idea prompt’ was '/promptidea' or ‘/gptidea’.
(Resources to all the automation templates and database will be included below)
The Problem: The Disconnect Between AI and Real-World Productivity
AI tools promise productivity gains, but there is still a lot of repetitiveness.
To illustrate, let's consider a common scenario.
Say you need some ideas on a topic you want to write about.
You have a prompt called ‘Idea Generation’.
The Manual Way: A Fragmented Workflow
Start by searching for the prompt you saved,
Manually paste the saved ‘Idea Generation’ prompt into ChatGPT,
Search and copy relevant parameters such as context and audience, then sift through the outputs, going back and forth,
Choose the best GPT-generated outputs,
Copy and paste the selected content into Google Docs or Notion for later
A flowchart of what this workflow looks like:
It may not seem like much, but repeat this process 30 times and it gets exhausting and mentally draining.
AI vs Automation: What’s The Difference?
Before we continue, let’s quickly define the difference between AI and Automation and why it’s important to make the distinction.
Simulates human decision-making.
Learns and evolves from data.
Handles tasks requiring judgment. (Not perfectly, of course)
Think of AI as a barista who remembers your favorite blends, adjusting the coffee based on the season or even detecting when you might want an extra shot of espresso.
Imagine automation as a coffee machine pre-programmed to have your coffee ready at 8 AM, every day.
Aaand now I want some coffee ☕️
Separating the two helps with understanding what tool to use for which kind of task.
Especially if you do client work and you’re scoping out the project so you avoid any potential misunderstandings (since they mean different things).
AI-Tomate to Accelerate: AI-Defined Automation
Now picture a fully automated workflow that starts the moment you tag a note in your favorite note-taking app.
We’ll be using a voice note as the “trigger” that kicks off the automation using AudioPen.
This voice note triggers the automation, generating ideas for your topic, creating a Google Doc in your desired location in Google Drive, and sharing the G-Doc link to your Airtable (or Notion) database.
All without manually copying and pasting or searching for anything!
Let’s turn this into a Zapier automation in 5 steps…
Are you new to automation? Check out these 3 posts:
5-Step Breakdown: Automated Idea Generation
Step 2: Add a Filter in Zapier
Step 3: Configure ChatGPT
Step 4: Create a Google Doc
Here is the Zapier automation using this Idea Generation workflow:
Here is the prompt I used to generate the ideas.
Elements you should include:
Product or service name
Make sure you “map” the TOPIC with the AudioPen “Note” data point.
Generate 5 ideas based on the topic below. These ideas should be unique, creative, and subtopics that I can use to write an epic newsletter.
Separate each idea with bullet points and subtopics.
The ideas should be related to my audience and business.
PRODUCT NAME = Hidden Levers Newsletter
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION = A weekly newsletter that provides AI/Automation and systems tips, templates.
TARGET AUDIENCE = is busy solopreneurs and digital content creators who run an online business. They are overwhelmed with busy work and wish they had more time to focus on work they love and spend time with the people that matter in their lives. They value straightforward advice, actionable, clear steps, and relatable, real-world examples.
And here is the output generated by ChatGPT in a Google Doc
Here it is in my Airtable database:
What if you use a different note-taking app?
Just replace the first TRIGGER step in the automation.
You can check if your app has a Zapier integration by following the Scribe walkthrough.
Use this spreadsheet to note triggers and actions for your favorite app(s), like the ones I’ve listed in the example.
If you prefer to use Make, you can check the apps they integrate with by doing a Google search: “[YOUR APP NAME] + Make.com Integration.”
AI-Automation Use-Cases 💡
Automated Content Curation: Use ChatGPT to sift through a list of articles or posts, summarize them, and automatically update an Airtable (or Sheets) with the summaries. Notify via email when a new summary is added.
Automated Feedback Loop: After a course or service is completed, collect feedback through an automated survey, and use ChatGPT to analyze the text responses for trends or actionable insights.
Automated Meeting Summaries: How to leverage tools like Airtable, ChatGPT, and Make to automate analyzing customer feedback and meeting transcripts. Made by me 😉
Expense Tracking: Use Nanonets (OCR) and Zapier to scan receipts and bills. Data is automatically extracted and categorized. Use ChatGPT to analyze spending habits and offer suggestions for cost-saving.
Note: Just as you often have to manually perform a step before automating it, the same principle applies to automating your AI.
You should test, and iterate on the prompts until you get good results.
Then, integrate AI within your automated workflows so you’re not wasting your money and time on poor outputs.
For those who want to eliminate the guesswork from AI-defined workflows, check out the premium membership I’m launching.
What You Learned.
Leverage Over Manual Effort: Understanding when and how to use automation within AI-defined tasks can free you up to focus on high-leverage tasks, rather than getting bogged down in manual work.
Tool Compatibility: When combining multiple apps or tools, think about how they complement each other. This helps you create a streamlined process instead of building a siloed workflow.
Validation Before Automation: Don’t rush to automate with AI. First, validate the quality of AI-generated outputs. This ensures that once you do automate, you're getting good outputs.
I’m hoping this guide changes how you approach your AI-defined workflows.