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Automation basics

By Krystina Martinez • Published October 13, 2020

What is automation?

Automation is simply setting something up to run automatically. Automation is all around you, even if you don't realize it. Take your smartphone, for example. You receive alerts whenever you receive a text message, a voice mail, or an email.

The heart of any automation boils down to a simple command: WHEN and DO. "When this happens, do that." Even the most complex automation can be broken down into this simple command.

automation basics

For example

This is the first of three articles to help you set up your first Zap. Continue learning:

  1. Create your first Zap
  2. Other things to know

What is Zapier?

Zapier is a tool that helps you automate repetitive tasks between two or more apps—no code necessary. When an event happens in one app, Zapier can tell another app to perform (or do) a particular action.

What should I automate with Zapier?

  • Tasks you have to do frequently. Example: Sending a weekly reminder to your team to fill out a meeting agenda.
  • Anything where you have to move information from one app to another. Example: Adding tasks from a project management app into your personal to-do list app.
  • Tasks that don't require much thinking. Example: Copying event attendee email addresses to a spreadsheet.

What is a Zap?

A Zap is an automated workflow that tells your apps to follow this simple command: "When this happens, do that."

Every Zap has a trigger and one or more actions. A trigger is an event that starts a Zap, and an action is what your Zap does for you. When a Zap runs, each action it completes counts as one task.

Trigger and action
Trigger and action

Think of these as building blocks for your Zap. Start with your trigger and add the action or actions you want Zapier to perform.

Next chapter:

Automation that moves your work forward

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