Use automation to improve digital agency work-life balance

Published by Vic Drover

Digital agency work-life balance

eating and maintaining digital agency work-life balance can be challenging. The nature of the work lends itself to an “always-on” lifestyle. 

And the recent surge in the popularity of remote-work tools like zoom has made it quite easy to be productive regardless of your location. This compounds both the real and perceived pressures of agency life. 

So now — more than ever — agencies need to focus on building productive work habits that allow for family time, relationships, exercise and mental well-being. 

Importantly, this includes useful business practices such as prioritizing recurring revenue and firing your worst clients. We discuss in detail in 10 Ways to Improve the Work-Life Balance of Your Agency

Missing from that list are a number of ways that Watchful can automate tedious tasks and monitor your web sites.

Below you will find a number of Watchful automations that will save you time and frustration. Together they can help you build a healthy digital agency work-life balance. As indicated, some automations are included with our Free plans and others with Premium or paid plans. 

Scheduled backups (Free | Premium)

Scheduling backups is the cornerstone of any digital agency that builds websites. A recent, reliable backup can be used to recover from problems both big and small on your website. 

Thus, it’s critical that regularly backup your websites. With just a few clicks, Watchful will automate daily, weekly, or monthly backups (see setup details for both WordPress & Joomla).

Since Watchful also automates notifications when backups are stale (see the Early Warning Audit below) you can relax with the knowledge that all site data is safe.

Backup Scheduler 2020
Schedule daily, weekly or monthly backups.

Early Warning Audit (Free | Premium)

The Early Warning Audit is a rapid analysis of your website and the underlying services. Here is a summary of the items included in the audit:

  • Changes to your most important system files (including theme and template files).
  • IP address changes.
  • Pending software updates.
  • Changes in the plugins or extensions installed on your site.
  • Changes in the age of your most recent backup.
  • Version changes in PHP, MySQL and your web server (i.e. Apache)

Most of these items remain stable over long periods of time. Thus, changes could indicate an intrusion or something unusual. For example, an unannounced upgrade by your web host or a failing automated backup. When these changes occur unexpectedly, they make it difficult to have a healthy work-life balance at your digital agency.

To keep you informed of these changes, Watchful records any issues and notifies the account owner. 

This automation requires no configuration. The Early Warning Audit occurs 1 time/day for free accounts and 8 times/day for premium accounts. 

Early Warning Audit Data 2016
The Early Warning Audit is an automated check of the core files and services used by your website. 

Uptime (Premium only)

Similar to the Early Warning Audit, Watchful automatically checks to make sure your website is online. However, the frequency is much greater: Watchful checks website uptime once per minute. 

If an outage occurs on your website, notifications are sent in real time. This way, you can fix the problem with as little downtime as possible.

This automation requires no configuration, but is not available for free plans. If you are using a free account, uptime monitoring begins automatically when you switch to a Premium plan.

Uptime Events 2020
Watchful monitors your website uptime for you automatically.

Auto-updates (Premium only)

Just like your phone and tablet, automatic software updates are becoming commonplace for websites.

Since many security issues result from outdated software, we recommend enabling this automation. This should be enabled for the most trusted plugins and extensions on your sites. 

As shown below, you can enable automatic updates one at a time on a per site basis. You can also bulk-enable them for all your websites at once

Watchful’s automatic update system also comes with a built-in scheduling system. This allows you to restrict updates to specific days and times such as normal office hours. You can also prevent updates if backups are stale.

Digital agencies are well-aware that software updates can sometimes cause problems. The update scheduler allows you to relax when you’re not in the office and be confident that updates won’t happen without a recent backup.

Automatic updates are available on all premium accounts. This is one of the most powerful tools you can use to build a healthy work-life balance at your digital agency.

Auto Updates Automation 2020
Automatic updates can be enabled on a per plugin, per site basis, or added in bulk across your entire portfolio of sites. Scheduling these updates during office hours helps build a healthy digital agency work-life balance.

Schedule reports (Premium only)

Many digital agencies generate and email reports each month to their clients. These reports typically summarize the recent activity on the site(s) and are an important part of most maintenance agreements.

Watchful helps you design the reports, but also lets you schedule their delivery. For example, you can have reports generated and emailed directly to your clients on the first Monday of each quarter.

If you hate Mondays because of this kind of tedious paperwork, the update scheduler will make you feel like a huge weight has been removed from your shoulders.

Reports can be generated from any Watchful account but the report scheduler is only available on premium accounts. 

Report Scheduler Aug 2020

Maintaining digital agency work-life balance 

Once you configured and tested the desired Watchful automations, you’ll find it easier to build a healthy digital agency work-life balance. 

But like all automations, it’s a good idea to review them from time to time. We recommend an automation review at least twice per year, and each time you onboard a new client website. 

For example, as you add new sites to Watchful, you’ll need to extend automatic software updates to the new site and schedule a new report.

Setting a maintenance schedule for your automations is a good habit to make sure you can keep enjoying a smoothly-operating digital agency for years to come.


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