IFTTT: Your New Best Friend
This is Day 5 of the 39 Days to a Better Job series, where we review actionable tips to make you better at your job.
Technology is crazy: things are changing so quickly that it’s tough to keep up. It seems like new social media platforms and photo-sharing tools are coming all the time.
It’s very easy to throw your arms up and say “There’s no way I can keep up.” But giving up is the wrong strategy: if you don’t play the game then you could get left in the dust.
Not to worry: there are tools (more tools!) out there that can do a lot of the work for you. Not only that, they can also help keep you up to speed regardless of how little time you devote to it.
If you haven’t set up a Google Alert for your name and your company and your boss, then do that now. Seriously, where have you been all these years? Go to google.com/alerts and set something up like this:
You’ll get an email every time a new search result is found for your name (make sure it’s in quotes…). This way you’ll be aware of any mentions of your name…it’s like having a private detective out there hustling while you sleep in.
The Next Level
Google Alerts is cool, but there’s something much cooler out there that can help you do some cool things to optimize your work flows and stand out at work.
It’s called If This Then That (IFTTT). Here’s what it does: you can mix and match any web application you can think of to alert you when something happens.
And If This Then That might become your best friend: it’s a free tool that let’s you put together “recipes” to accomplish “tasks.” It’s cool to put together your own tasks from scratch.
For example, I have one set up to shoot me an email anytime my company is mentioned in a tweet. Just to keep tabs on what’s going on.
But the coolest part is that you can browser other popular recipes and see how others are using the site. That’s how I discovered the recipe that sends me an email whenever Amazon adds a new album to their Top Free MP3 Albums. You can check out the Amazon recipe.
You can have the weather texted to you every morning or you can archive any images you take to Evernote. The possibilities are endless.
Automation is Your Friend
From paying your bills to keeping track of the latest news on any given topic, automation is your friend. The automation behind services like IFTTT and Google Alerts are about doing two things:
- Saving time so you can focus on other things
- Getting more done (in the past I’ve called it Going Beyond)
First off, look at the tasks you do every day (or every week) and see if you can automate them.
Then just play around with the channels and all the recipes that IFTTT has available and see if you can apply them to your work. The goal is to create tasks that are helpful and create value for you, your boss, or your company.
Because there are so many channels and so many possibilities, it’s up to you how crazy you go with this. From stock monitoring to checking on whether anyone mentioned you on twitter, how many hours of time could you save if you let your IFTTT personal assistant do the work so you can focus on getting things done?