To do lists are fine, but for me, they mostly serve as reminders of all the things I haven’t done yet (and probably won’t get to for some time). What if you could automate some of your tasks – set up a simple chain of events that you put in motion once and then never really have to think about again? If this idea appeals, then If This Then That (“IFTTT”) might be just what you are looking for.
The application is conceived and executed by setting up triggers and actions in channels. Channels are essentially the web services that you may manually use every day, but with this app you can define certain triggers (the “if”) and then assign an action to the trigger (the “that”). The “if” can be something like “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “someone mentions me on Twitter.” The “that” can be “send me a text message” or “create a status update on Facebook.” Your triggers and actions are limited to the channels available on ifft, but there are more than enough to choose from to make the set up worth your time.
You can have up to 20 active tasks set up and running at any given time.
You select the channel for the trigger, define the trigger, then set the channel for the action and define the action. For example, see below:
You get the “picture.” When you pick a channel, you are given a limited number of options for triggers and tasks, such as “add in” language for tweets, but there are many combinations. Follow the steps, define or describe your task and you are all set up. There is a date and time trigger as well that will allow you to initiate tasks at a certain time and date. Tasks can be turned on or off and when they are resumed they pick up right where they left off. Tasks poll for new trigger information every 15 minutes or so, so the results are relatively current.
Another very cool aspect of ifttt is the community involvement in task creation. Task “recipes” can be created and shared with other users on the site. So, while you are certainly free to create your own little cause and effect loops from scratch, you can also forego the heavy lifting and check out some of the other great recipes put together by clever ifttt users.
I believe ifttt is simply brilliant. Set tasks up and watch them go, with no further interaction from you. While it might not be appropriate for all of your online actions and interactions, there are plenty of tasks that simply do not need oversight. Save yourself some time and effort with this fantastic tool.