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Can someone please tell me what general features like for example research, ship design and so on that can be automated? The real time aspect of the games makes it hard for me to manage everything in the beginning before I've learned the game better.

This question / problem has been solved by ussnorwayimage
Nothing is really automated but once you set it then things can continue until you change things... Opening turn = press pause then;
Open research tree and set the path your empire will follow to unlock whatever tech you need i.e, mega buildings is my first goto tech

Set your home system to use defence points... This will spend any defence points to automatically build support ships for any capitals, planets or bases in the system (the more planets you have will increase how large a defence force) until the cap is maximised.

If you have any scout ships they should be set to auto search and then forget them.

Mining ships can be set to auto mine an asteroid until it is depleted

All planets can have a build list as long as you have money to cover the cost of building the items (you pay up front) but items are built in the order they appear on the list... Which can be adjusted.

P.s, planets will auto build buildings to meet their pressure limits i.e, research centres when they have research points but you can also build large centres to force a certain build and you can also adjust what pressure a planet gets by changing what planets it imports from.