Automation. The programmer’s best friend. Programmers automate as much as they can. Setting up a new computer, building servers and testing software are just some of the areas where we like to automate things. We hate typing in four commands where one will do. Automation saves so much time.
Not everyone is a programmer though. So how can you automate your interactions with your computer so that you’re not doing as many manual tasks?
###Check your application settings
Lots of applications and services now integrate with other applications and settings. Instapaper for example allows me to save the articles that I like to my Pinboard account. After I set this up in the Instapaper settings page, I can then like an article and it will be saved to Pinboard for me. This is just a small example of the automation you can achieve. Baked in settings to applications is great but what if you want more automation?
IFTTT is a service that allows you to create recipes for the different services that you use. It will then run these recipes when they are triggered. Each recipe contains a trigger and an action. When the trigger is fired the respective action is carried out.
An example of this in action is the monthly redux blog post that I put out at the start of each month. It is a list of the previous month’s blog posts on my blog. Rather than writing this by hand though, I can let IFTTT do the work for me.
When my recipe detects a new item on my blog’s RSS feed, it then writes the title of the blog post and a link to it to a text file in my Dropbox account.
At the end of the month I cut the contents of this file and paste it into my blog’s content editor and use it as the content for my new monthly redux blog post.
In order for IFTTT to work effectively, it needs to have access to the services that you use. You may not be comfortable doing this, but I find that it’s a great way to automate tasks that I would normally do by hand in the past.
Being able to defer manual tasks to services that automate them for you saves you time. Not only that, it lets you get on with more important tasks. This week watch out for manual tasks that you could be automating. Even if you can save a few minutes off your day, it’s going to add up over the year. And that’s time not wasted.