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Automating Recurring Tasks to Save Time: IFTTT Recipes and Zapier Workflows

Introduction

Recurring administrative tasks eat up valuable time that could be better spent on high-impact priorities. Fortunately, web automation platforms like IFTTT and Zapier make it simple to set up automated workflows between apps and devices that handle repetitive tasks on autopilot. This guide explores examples of automating common tasks through IFTTT recipes and Zapier workflows to help regain hours.

IFTTT

IFTTT (If This Then That) provides preconfigured automation “recipes”:

Overview

  • Connects web services and hardware through conditional triggers
  • 500+ apps integrate including Twitter, Gmail, Alexa, iOS
  • Preset recipe templates create automated actions
  • Free service for basic needs

Common Automations

  • New Gmail label when receiving important emails
  • Auto text someone when traveling far from home
  • Create calendar events for new Facebook group events
  • Log new Spotify plays to a spreadsheet
  • Auto send new Instagram photos to Dropbox

With prebuilt recipes, IFTTT makes it super simple to connect apps for basic cause-and-effect automations.

Zapier

Zapier enables crafting custom workflows automating complex multi-step processes:

Overview

  • Build automated flows between 2500+ web apps
  • Conditional logic and filters
  • Multiple sequential actions per “zap”
  • Codeless setup
  • 14 day free trial

Common Automations

  • Send Slack notifications when new Trello tasks added
  • Populate Google Sheets with Mailchimp subscriber data
  • Create Asana task automatically from new Salesforce lead
  • Append key details from web form submissions into Google Docs
  • Attach files from Dropbox to Evernote when spreadsheet rows update

Zapier unlocks nearly endless combinations of cross-app integrations tailored to your unique needs.

Recurring Task Automation Examples

Common administrative tasks worth automating:

Social Media Scheduling

  • Create posts/images in Buffer when adding to Trello editorial calendar
  • Auto post new blog posts on LinkedIn and Twitter

Data Organization

  • Automatically append Google Form responses to Google Sheets
  • Organize email newsletter sign ups into Mailchimp lists

Content Archiving

  • Save all webpage bookmarks to Evernote
  • Auto tag and move emails into Gmail folders

Status Updates

  • Notify Slack when new invoices generated
  • Alert team when projects marked done in Asana

Customer Support

  • Create help desk tickets from web form submissions
  • Auto assign Support tickets based on keywords

Time spent on manual data entry can be eliminated through automation.

Ways to Discover Recipes and Workflows

Finding existing templates suited to your needs saves setup time:

IFTTT

  • Browse recipe gallery by popularity
  • Search recipes by keyword
  • Follow creators who make useful recipes
  • Browse recipes by app/service
  • Let IFTTT recommend recipes
  • Explore category collections

Zapier

  • Browse hundreds of premade Zaps by app
  • Follow templates by goal or industry
  • Examine templates integrated with your existing tools stack
  • Search Zap templates and descriptions
  • Check the Zapier blog for solutions to common use cases

Instead of starting totally from scratch, build off relevant examples.

Choosing Suitable Apps to Integrate

Key factors in selecting apps for automation workflows:

  • Core apps you already use regularly that have key data
  • Services with APIs that integrate readily into flows
  • Tools where you frequently repeat exporting or sending data from
  • Destinations that enable taking action on the data like social media, documents, task managers
  • Applications where you need to sync similar data in multiple places
  • Programs with notifications, alerts or approvals you need to monitor

Integrate services already central to your routines for maximum usefulness.

Automation Building Tips

Recommendations for developing effective recipes and workflows:

  • Start with simple 2-3 step sequences
  • Use apps with existing quality templates for models
  • Name automations clearly for easy recognition
  • Set up test flows first before activating across real accounts
  • Check for available triggers versus periodic polling if possible
  • Factor in error handling and alerts where beneficial
  • Monitor initially to ensure smooth performance
  • Tweak recipes/workflows as needed based on use
  • Disable or tweak individual recipes if too noisy or unnecessary

Add to your automations cautiously until they reliably provide utility.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Keep automations running smoothly long-term by:

  • Reviewing monthly for unused or excessive ones
  • Testing integrations after app updates
  • Duplicating then adjusting flows for similar needs
  • Tagging automations by department, use case etc. for organization
  • Adding notifications/alerts for key failures or results
  • Granting access to right individuals to administer team automations
  • Checking usage limits for free plans as flows scale
  • Monitoring execution metrics for load impacts

Proactively tweaking and overseeing automations prevents breakdowns.

Expanding Automations Across Teams

Ways to spread efficiencies as usage grows:

  • Share useful automations in internal wikis/repos
  • Showcase automation successes internally
  • Set up group training on automation tools
  • Institute group reviews of department workflows to digitize
  • Designate power users across teams to assist coworkers
  • Budget for company-wide paid Zapier Org plan for more team automations
  • Add automations to coworker onboarding checklists/documentation

Automating team workflows provides much more cumulative time savings than individual tasks.

Choosing Between IFTTT and Zapier

Factors to weigh in selecting tooling:

IFTTT

  • Simple predefined recipe templates
  • Very affordable free tier
  • More consumer/personal focused
  • Limited to two-part cause-and-effect chains

Zapier

  • Build complex zaps tailored to business processes
  • Integrate with a wider span of business apps
  • Codeless visual builder
  • Support teams with shared access
  • Free trial but paid tiers required long-term

Evaluate whether you just need basic two-step app integrations or more intricate cross-functional workflows to determine the ideal platform.

Prioritizing Time Savings

The time regained from automating recurring tasks adds up substantially:

  • Identify frequent tasks taking at least 5-10 mins
  • Estimate monthly or weekly time spent per task
  • Prioritize automating tasks happening multiple times daily or weekly
  • Calculate potential hours saved long-term from automating
  • Weigh time savings value against automation setup effort
  • Make deliberate trade-offs not automating processes with limited time savings

Treat your time as your most precious asset and act accordingly. Automation builds freedom.

Conclusion

Automating repetitive manual processes with IFTTT, Zapier and similar tools not only eliminates drudgery – it scales productivity exponentially. Even starting with a few key workflows saves hours better spent on high-value priorities. Approach recurring task automation deliberately, choosing high-frequency activities with available triggers to integrate. Innovate purposefully on improving efficiency through automation. The compound gains make impressive time savings attainable.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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