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Do you want to be more productive? It’s a simple question, and one to which the majority of people would answer with a resounding “Yes”.
It’s important to strike a sensible balance between productivity and leisure time. But if you can squeeze more out of your working time — or do the same number of tasks in less time — you’ll be well on your way to hacking your work/life balance.
Technology can be both a curse and a cure. It trips you with ample distractions but can also help you solve your productivity puzzle.
Why not deploy some well-placed IFTTT recipes and let tech help keep you on track? Here are 13 of the best.
Ah, YouTube. Together with Reddit, it’s probably the king of time drains. You start off watching a video about how to do equations in Excel as part of a vital presentation for your boss, and three hours later you’re watching somersaulting Russian dogs (and still don’t know anything about Excel equations).
Watching acrobatic dogs is a great way to unwind — but there’s a time and a place. Deploy this recipe, and any videos you mark as Watch Later will be automatically added to Pocket.
Don’t kid yourself that you’re being productive just because the only program you have open is Microsoft Word. There is a world of distraction hiding in your pocket.
If you’re one of those people who always gets your smartphone out when your mind starts to wander, try this recipe. It links the QualityTime app with Gmail and will send you a stern reminder when you exceed a set number of minutes of smartphone usage.
If you work in a creative job, there are times when you’ll inevitably hit a mental road block. Perhaps you can’t think of the right sentence for your copywriting project, maybe you’ve hit a dead-end in a brainstorming session — or maybe you’re struggling to find the right design for your company’s next big product release.
See if Kickstarter can inspire you. This recipe will automatically alert you to any new designs on the crowdfunding website.
If you don’t know, the Pomodoro technique is a time-management system that’s designed to break your working day into manageable chunks of productivity and rest. It’s something we’ve covered extensively on MakeUseOf.
This recipe pairs the RescueTime channel with the Date & Time channel and will send you Pomodoro-esque alerts at set intervals.
Why should you get out of bed in the morning? All you’ve got to look forward to is rain, traffic, and listening to Barbara brag about her latest holiday by the watercooler.
If only it were that simple. Sadly, you have to make a living for yourself. Doesn’t make it any easier to get up though, does it?
Try using the Beeminder app to help you open your weary eyes. If you oversleep, IFTTT will automatically create a “do less oversleeping” entry in your account. And just to remind you — if you go off track, Beeminder can sting.
You know how it goes. You’ve sharpened your pencil, cleared your email inbox, and you’ve got yourself mentally prepared. Then, after 15 minutes of hyper-productive output, your best friend calls to invite you out for a drink. Next thing you know your alarm is going off the next morning and you’ve got a sore head.
Make sure your phone is on silent, and you can nip the situation in the bud. This RescueTime recipe will automatically silence your device (including vibrations) whenever you’re working hard.
Every company in the world uses email, but it’s not necessarily very efficient. It’s easy for important messages to slip through in a sea of memes and spam, and high-priority messages might not be read until it’s too late.
If you’ve got an Office 365 mail account and an iPhone, you can make sure you get a separate notification whenever a high-priority email hits your inbox.
Sometimes you forget how much you’ve achieved. It’s a shame, because looking at past accomplishments can be a great motivator for future challenges. Even for habitual procrastinators.
Use this creation to pair your Todoist account with your Google Account. Every time you mark a task as complete, they will be added one-by-one to a spreadsheet.
Bonus Tip: It’s also really handy when performance review time comes around!
As mentioned earlier, it can be both annoying and time-consuming to wade through hundreds of emails each week just to filter out the stuff you really need to read.
How about this for a simple solution? Scan through your Gmail inbox and mark anything that piques your interest as Urgent. It will be automatically turned into a Todoist task, and from there you can easily manage the process through to its conclusion.
Do you check Twitter as soon as you wake up in the morning? I know, it’s vitally important that you know which TMZ “journalist” dissed Lady Gaga’s outfit while you were asleep — but why not also make your ritual Twitter check-in a motivational experience?
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
This recipe will automatically add anyone tweeting motivational quotes to your own private Twitter list. Have a quick flick through these quotes each morning, and one day you could be like Lady Gaga too!
11. Call Yourself
Unnecessary meetings are one of the biggest time drains in an office worker’s life. Nothing ever gets decided and you all agree to reconvene in a week. The cycle is endless.
Okay, I admit it — sometimes they are a welcome distraction from an otherwise mundane day, but there are lots of times when your time is genuinely better spent elsewhere.
The solution? Use this IFTTT Do command to call yourself and manufacture a get-out clause. (Warning: You need to be good at faking a telephone conversation!)
When do you have your most stunning, inspired, groundbreaking ideas? Almost always, it’s at an inopportune moment and the thought slips away before you have a chance to record it.
Try this Do command to solve the problem. Just log your thoughts as they come into your head, and you’ll be sent them all in a digest email every week.
Twitter isn’t all echo chamber politics and celebrity spats — if you’re following the right people it can be a hive of ideas, inspirations, and motivations.
Use this recipe to easy sort out the visionary from the vapid. Every time you “Like” a tweet, it will be automatically sent to a OneNote notebook. From there, you can craft, nurture, and formulate the stimuli until it becomes a mirror of yourself. Think of Twitter as the seed and OneNote as the plant pot.
Give Us Your Best IFTTT Concoctions
I’ve listed 13 of the IFTTT’s best offerings but there are countless more. It doesn’t matter which services you use or which devices you own, you’ll always be able to find something to help you improve and maintain your productivity.
I’d love to hear your proposals.
Have you found a great recipe from an underused service, or have you fashioned the perfect recipe that could be useful for all our readers? Get in touch with your suggestions and creations in the comments below.