Automate Your Tasks by Making the Internet Work for You

I'm always on the lookout for tools to help manage tasks and to create to-do lists, whether they're sushi memo blocks or apps like Milk and Zenbe Lists. A new tool has entered the pool of task managers called IFTTT ("if this then that") which uses the internet to prompt your to-do reminders.

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Created by developer Linden Tibbets, IFTTT was inspired by the concept of “if a user clicks on this, then that should happen." IFTTTs composed of four different steps. Here’s how you can use the service to automate your daily web to-do’s.

Tasks: Start with your daily tasks. As a heavy Instagram user, I like to collect all my Instagram photos in my email in order to access them from any computer. IFTTT makes it so this task automatically happens by making different tools I use work together. How? With triggers.

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Triggers: The trigger is where the “this” in “if this than that” comes into play. Examples of triggers could be anything from “if I receive a new follower on Twitter” or “if someone comments on my blog post.” If you assign triggers by date and time, you can customize by selecting every day, every weekday, every month, etc.

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Actions: Here’s where the automated magic happens. Now you apply what happens when you do receive a new follower. Most times you can get an email, but if you are more of a text message person, set the action to receive a text message every time you get a new Twitter follower. Or let’s say you’re a heavy Delicious user and each time you tag a new bookmark, you want to update your Facebook status with it. Done.

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Channels: These are all the tools in your box that can be used as triggers and actions. These channels include Craigslist, email, Facebook, FFFFound, Flickr, Foursquare, SMS, Tumblr, Vimeo and much more, including the most valuable in my opinion: date and time.

What attracts me most to IFTTT is the thinking that went into building this tool. Technology has people so hyper connected now that in many ways digital has subconsciously shaping our behavior for years now and this service connects the dots between services and daily task needs effortlessly. With IFTTT, Tibbets turns the tables around by figuring out how users can shape the capabilities of the web to adapt to our behavior, rather than the other way around.

(Images: Julienne Lin)