Count how many times you forgot something over the past 24 hours. That is how many times you had an opportunity to automate.
Automation is about removing the need to remember things you do often. It’s about simplifying your life and working in a way where people give you credit for being far more productive than you actually are — because you’ve got “the system” doing all of your work for you.
Getting there is the hard part. Think of all of the little tasks you do. Are there any that you do every single day? Are there things you need to remember to do at the same time of the day, every week, or every month? Sometimes, it’s not even about automating the task entirely, but instead creating a system that at least makes it easier for you to get the task done more quickly.
This can be delivering all of the information you need to yourself in an email at the same time every week, automatically emailing a report to your boss, or automatically transferring files from your cloud storage area to your private storage. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
I have a love-hate relationship with ToDoist. Actually, with to-do lists and services in general. I even went so far as to upgrade to ToDoist Premium. Not long after that, I think I went to gTasks and then tried all sorts of other productivity apps.
I love the idea of an online system where you can store your to-do lists and projects, but I can’t stand the fact that very few online to-do systems are really customized for how I want to use them.
Here’s why I love ToDoist for automation though — it provides you with the ability to issue notifications via email or SMS.
What this means is that you can link those Email or SMS notifications via IFTTT to some sort of output task that you’d like to accomplish at a certain time in the future. You can also use ToDoist’s creative recurring scheduler system to set up any repetitive task.
When you set up to-do tasks in ToDoist as part of your normal schedule, start thinking of the sorts of tasks — especially recurring tasks — that you might be able to automate. Create an email or SMS output from that task to IFTTT (as detailed below),
Automate a Report Email To Your Boss
Email is probably the easiest ToDoist trigger to send to IFTTT for any automation. In this first example, you’ll see how to automate the sending of a report to your supervisor every day.
First, create a recurring task in ToDoist.
Then, click the notifications icon (an alarm clock), set it for “Via Email” and set the delay to 0 minutes.
In the example above, an email will be issued for this task every Friday at 3pm. The email used is the one that you’ve set up in the “ToDoist Settings” section of your account. The important thing to remember here is that whatever text you put for the task title will show up in the body of that email.
Now, go into your email account and set up a filter for that body text. For the filter, have your email client apply a label to the email. In this case, we’ll apply the label “Weekly-Report-to-Boss”. For the filter, it’ll come from “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and then whatever words from your task name go into the “Has the words” field.
Then, apply the label (you may need to create the label).
Now, every time your recurring ToDoist task kicks off, it’ll trigger an email to your inbox, your email client will apply the label, and all you have to do now is set up IFTTT to watch for that label and then send off the report. The IFTTT trigger will look like below.
Finally, for the trigger you’re going to use Email as well – have IFTTT send an email with a fixed subject and body, but make the attachment a fixed URL to the report file that you’ve saved in Dropbox.
So now, all you have to do is remember to update that weekly report file in Dropbox with the latest data (or better yet, figure out a way to automate a Google Spreadsheet Report and you don’t have to do any work at all! Time the spreadsheet to update the day before this automated email, and you can go catch a coffee – letting the system do all of your work for you.
Schedule a Facebook Post from ToDoist
Okay, so you’re like me and you have the best intentions to keep your fanbase updated with constant posts and updates, but then life gets busy and the next thing you know, a month has gone by without any Facebook posts. Not cool.
Why not schedule out a series of Facebook Post tasks in ToDoist? It’s easy. First, set up a new project in ToDoist called “Quick Update” for all Facebook posts. Then, just set up a task and make the title your post text.
Just like in the first automation above, you’ll create an email filter using the “Quick Update” at the start of your subject line. Set up the filter and apply the label “ToDoist-Facebook-Post” as shown above. Why the subject line? Well, what’s cool is your ToDoist notification adds the project name to the front of the incoming email as shown here.
What’s cool about this is that not only can you use the “Quick Update” phrase in the subject to filter the incoming email, but you can then use IFTTT to post the entire subject line of that email to Facebook! In an IFTTT Facebook trigger, it’s as easy as selecting the incoming Subject as the ingredient to post.
That’s it! Now you just schedule your task/post in ToDoist under the “Quick Update” project using the title of the task as your Facebook post. Make sure the task notification is set to go to your email account. That’s it. Your email will label the incoming email, IFTTT will post to Facebook for you, and you are now a productivity ninja!
Issue Meeting Reminder to Multiple People
One drawback with ToDoist is that email reminders only go out to a single email. So, what if you want to set up a recurring email to your team that serves as a reminder for a meeting or some task you all need to collaborate on?
You can set up a recurring meeting notice in ToDoist, and just set the notification to go to your email address.
Again, set up a filter to look for the line in your task title, create a label for it, and then in IFTTT, use that label to fire off an Email trigger to multiple email addresses.
This is a very simple and effective way to extend the limitation of ToDoist from one email notification to several, thanks to an IFTTT recipe with an email trigger and an email output!
Trigger File Transfer With SMS
Another cool feature of ToDoist is that it offers SMS notifications as well. Thankfully, IFTTT offers the ability to trigger recipes via SMS. Just choose SMS as a trigger and choose “Send IFTTT an SMS tagged”. To transfer a file using SMS, use a tag like #TransferReport.
Once you create this trigger, IFTTT will give you the SMS number you need to send to.
The only problem here is that for ToDoist to send notifications directly to IFTTT, you’d have to make the “from” phone number your ToDoist SMS number. That won’t work, because IFTTT requires you to send a test SMS and respond with a PIN.
The easy way around this is to set up your mobile phone – which is set up as your SMS phone with both IFTTT and ToDoist – with any available SMS forwarding app. There are plenty available for both Android and iOS. Configure that app to forward any incoming SMS notifications from ToDoist to your IFTTT number, and you’re done.
Now, set up your ToDoist task to trigger the file transfer by naming the task with the tag you want to use to trigger it in IFTTT.
The incoming SMS from ToDoist will look something like “Reminder|#TransferReport|Report Name”
Since you’ve set up an IFTTT SMS trigger to look for the #TransferReport tag, this text message will trigger that recipe.
Now, to make IFTTT transfer a file from Dropbox to Google Drive, you just set your IFTTT trigger to use Google Drive and select “Upload File from URL”.
As you can see, you just set the File URL to the file URL in Dropbox. Name the file using the “ReceivedAt” date of the SMS so that each time the file is uploaded it’ll receive a new date, and then select your Google Drive path where you’d like the report to go.
The benefit of this automation is that you can have one of your staff place their latest report in your public Dropbox URL, replacing the old file and keeping the same name. Then, at some weekly interval, your automated system will reach out, grab that report or data file, and load it into your own Google Drive account where you can see the new report.
Add a Row to Google Spreadsheet With SMS
The last automation idea is triggering a new data-entry line in a Google Spreadsheet. One example of why this might be useful is if you had a team of field technicians or some other remote staff. Maybe they’re collecting survey responses from customers, or collecting meter readings from remote locations.
You can have them text you an SMS message to your phone using a unique tag for each technician. For example, Bob may text you “#bobdata 779 Church Street, 4021”, and John would text you “#johndata 76 Main Strett, 6543”.
You want to somehow automate the insertion of that data into a single Google Spreadsheet. Sound crazy complicated? Well, it’s not.
In fact, you don’t even need ToDoist for this solution. First, make sure you’ve got that auto-forward app working on your phone so that incoming texts from those technicians automatically get forwarded to your IFTTT SMS number. Then, set up triggers in IFTTT for each tag.
Then create an action using Google Drive, and select “Add Row to Spreadsheet”.
Creating an individual trigger for each technician, using the same spreadsheet name, will load all of the incoming information into an individual spreadsheet.
When you start to play creatively with ToDoist’s notification features, and IFTTT’s ability to take those and accomplish really cool automations with them, it becomes very obvious that the combination of the two is a very powerful thing.
Can you think of any other cool ways to combine ToDoist and IFTTT to automate other tasks? Share your creative ideas and thoughts in the comments section below!