Hi. Welcome to episode 11 of this Productivity Matters Podcast.
Have you ever wondered how you could make your technical life simpler? I’m Julian, your host for this episode, and I’m going to take a look at two systems that let you do just that.
IFTTT and Zapier, are ways to get your services, apps and devices talking to each other to save you time.
But First. The intro music
Have you ever wanted to save a photo you posted on social media? Do you want to know if you’ll need an umbrella (without needing to check the weather)? What about using your Amazon Echo device to add to something to you Apple Reminders shopping list?
The possibilities are, almost, endless. Missed a call? Then set the ringer to high volume so you don’t miss the next one!
Want to turn WiFi on, on your phone, when you leave home? Set it to automatically switch off when you go out!
Do you listen to Spotify (or other music service) Then add a saved song to a spreadsheet.
Maybe you want to update your Twitter profile picture when you update your Facebook profile pic. IFTTT will automate that, so you don’t have to go to two different places.
Want to know when the International Space Station is overhead? - run an applet on IFTTT to alert you.
I could spend the next few minutes just reading through all the possible variations of applets, that are available via IFTTT.
Why is it called IFTTT? This is taken from the way a software developer writes code designed to look at the options and then make a decision. Quite literally, If This happens Then do That.
With the app, you create an Applet. Or you can use one of a multitude of applets that are already available, and shared by other users. These applets connect the services you want to run.
For example; you’re out and about with your Fitbit, increasing your steps and activity, but you want to track this over time. Simply set up an applet, that’s been created by Fitbit, to upload your daily activity to a Google spreadsheet. You will then have a line-by-line record.
Maybe you have a shared Reminder on your iPhone, for your shopping list. And you have an Amazon Echo. You can ask Alexa to add something to your shopping list, and IFTTT will pick this up and put it on your Apple Reminder.
Another example of the way I use it, is for when I post a picture on Instagram (which I don’t do THAT often), the picture is also posted to my Twitter account. This might not sound like a big deal, but a few years ago, Twitter stopped that from happening organically - so the IFTTT service means it can still be done.
There are thousands of this applets already available, but you can create your own recipes.
The big beauty about IFTTT is that it’s completely free to download and use. It’s available on iOS and Android, as well as via the web.
Zapier, in contrast, doesn’t have an app. It’s all on the web; and whilst this is very much geared towards businesses, there is still much it can do to save you time. You create Zaps that do the work for you.
So, what exactly is a Zap? Well, it’s a connection, or integration, between two or more apps that automates your task. A Zap is made of a "trigger" (ex.: When I receive a new email in Gmail...) and an "action" (ex.: ...send me an SMS message).
Zaps run automatically to move and manage data without any work on your part.
One of the main uses I have is to add a line to a spreadsheet whenever I buy something from Amazon. Yep; sounds a little geeky, but whenever a confirmation email is received, I have set up a process (or Zap as they're known) that will look in the email, take the date, order number, item description and price and add to a line on a Google spreadsheet. Now, I can see at a glance what I’ve bought, and the total I’ve spent. Although sometimes I’m not sure that I want to know.
How about this one.... I use a Google Sheet to compose tweets. Zapier is looking for new rows on the sheet, and when it finds one, it picks up the content and sends it to Buffer, to be scheduled to go to Twitter. It means I can write tweets in advance, and they will automatically post at pre-determined times.
Another example is after I’ve uploaded a document to Google Drive, a Zap will pick it up and move it to a specific directory. It saves me time having to locate the directory at the time of uploading it.
There are tons of integrations that you can explore - it’s worth having a look to see what Zapier could do to help you.
More importantly, the majority of the zaps can be created easily, via a step-by-step process led by the software. You don't need knowledge of software development; although you can make really complex zaps if you need to. Zapier has some pretty good documentation and support.
Zapier is free to use the basic service, which allows only two-step Zaps; anything above that will require a subscription, starting at $20 per month. However, this is more of a business service and the cost can easily be considered an actual saving, due to the amount of time that could be saved repeating tasks.
So, there you have it. Two excellent services that enable you to get things done and save you time in the process. It’s the small things that count. By automating even the smallest tasks will build up and save you more time in the long run.
I hope you’ve found this episode interesting.
I love taking control and saving snippets of time by using these services. If you have any questions about IFTTT or Zapier, or any ways you can save time, then please get in touch via the Contact Me button at the top of the page.
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Thank you very much for listening and until next time, remember, Productivity Matters.
POSTSCRIPT - I got the pronounciation of Zapier wrong! It sounds the same as Happier :)
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