Necessary + Boring = Automation

Almost all paperwork is now in digital form. Bankstatements, invoices, receipt, payment slips, insurance papers,  etc are almost all digital now. That is great because it saves dead trees, and it is quicker to send this stuff digitally then by snail mail.But it is still paperwork and hardly anybody enjoys paperwork. but it cannot be prevented and there is a need to keep the stuff around and somewhat organised. Additionally, more digital devices and services mean more upkeep on those as well. Software updates for example.

Necessary + Boring = Automation. So, here are some tips to automate the boring stuff.

Some of my automations depend on the IFTTT service. IFTTT stands for IF This Than That, which is a name that covers the service well. Various internet platforms and services are available for automation in IFTTT , they are called Channels. Gmail, Evernote, Dropbox, are all examples of channels available in IFTTT .

A channel can provide triggers and actions. A trigger is the "IF This" part, and an action is the "Then This" part. For example receiving a new email in your Gmail account can be a trigger. Storing a file in Dropbox can be an action. A combination of a trigger and action together is called a Recipe in IFTTT .

Before you can start using IFTTT, you need to sign up and then activate the channels you want to use.

With that done, here are some of the recipes that I use to automate things :

Save invoice email to dropbox

This recipe uses the Gmail and Dropbox channels to store any incoming emails with an invoice as a text file to a folder in your  dropbox account. The search in this example is very simple, it just looks for the word "invoice". But, you can use advanced search operators to search more specifically.

You can specify what folder to save the file in, so if you keep your administration in dropbox, the file can be put in the right place automatically. You can also setup a few variations of this same recipe to automatically search for specific invoices and save those to more specific places in your dropbox administration folder.

Channnels: Gmail, Dropbox
Recipe: Save invoices to dropbox folder

Add item to ToDo list item based on Gmail label

This recipe can be used for all kinds of situations. Provided you have setup rules in Gmail to label specific emails, IFTTT can look at those labels and turn them into an item on your ToDo list. 

For example: At home, I use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device to share files between all devices in the house (Laptop, tablet, smartphone, TV). Whenever a software update is available for the NAS, I receive an email. That email is labeled and that label is checked by IFTTT and turned into a todo item on ToDoIst. There is also a version that uses the iOS Reminders app to create the todo item on.

Channels:  Gmail, ToDoIst, iOS Reminders

There are many more channels available in IFTTT, and you can search recipes that others have shared to get inspiration for your own automation. The services has been around for several years and is well established, so a lot of information, tips and tricks is available through google.

Besides IFTTT, there are of course many more ways to automate the boring stuff. In addition to these recipes, I use a GMail rule to automatically send receipts and invoices into a specific evernote folder. You can do that through an IFTTT recipe, but it can be done more easily by setting up a rule in Gmail. And all this leads to more time to do things I like. Bonus!

What do you use to automate the stuff you do not like to do? Please share your tips!