If This Then That Tips – Research Workflows

One of the coolest tools on the internet is IF This Then That. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out than you’re missing out on tools that can make everything you do on the internet run a little bit smoother. In this post I want to give you a few recipes that I created (or borrowed and modified) that have found helpful regarding research. I also want to point out that I’ve found that IFTTT is most beneficial when I have a problem and then look to leverage IFTTT to help solve it. When I simply browse recipes I rarely find something that would be super helpful to me, although sometimes other recipes will give me ideas.

Research Help

I’m toying with the idea of a makers or innovators club/course (super preliminary right now…) and am trying to gather research on creativity, innovation, the maker’s movement, design, etc. One way I’m doing this is following certain companies, people, or institutions on Twitter (The MIT Media Lab, Tony Wagner, The Harvard Innovation Lab, IDEO, etc…). This is great but I know that I’m missing a great deal of what gets tweeted by these people. One idea is to turn on notifications but I’m not on my phone constantly (nor do I want to be) to read every single tweet as they come in. Wouldn’t it be great if I could aggregate tweets from a group of people in place? (I know what you’re thinking…use a Twitter List. That works also, but remember I’m doing research and I’d love if the list of tweets was searchable and was located in a place with the rest of my research…)

Enter the recipe below. This recipe takes a tweet from a specific user and appends it to a note in Evernote. Since I have a notebook where I’m housing all my research and ideas for this already, I just added a note  called “creative people tweets”. When I made the recipe I just specified the notebook and note in which I wanted to store the tweets.

You may be concerned about the length of the note after a couple weeks and lots of tweets, but you can easily search the note for specific people, twitter handles, and keywords using “control + f“.
IFTTT Recipe: Append Tweet to Note connects twitter to evernote

Stop Checking Folders

Suppose that you’re collaborating with somebody and you are using a shared Dropbox folder. This recipe will send you an email when a new document is added to that folder. This is great if you don’t want to keep checking a folder to see if your collaborators add anything to folder without constantly checking it.

IFTTT Recipe: Monitor Folder in Dropbox connects dropbox to email

Make Feedly and Evernote Work Together

Since the demise of Google Reader many people have turned to Feedly to aggregate their RSS feeds. If you’re researching a given topic you might aggregate a few blogs into your feedly to make sure you don’t miss any posts. The recipe below adds any article you “Save for Later” to a notebook in Evernote. From Evernote you can move the note to a different notebook, tag it, add notes to it, etc.
IFTTT Recipe: Feedly Saved for Later to Evernote connects feedly to evernote

Check your Sources First

RSS feed readers are great, but what if you only want posts relevant to a particular topic? One way to filter posts you get is to use a recipe like the one below. It takes a post from one of my favorite sites (99u) and checks each post for the word “creativity” and if a post contains that word then it is saved in my Pocket. I chose pocket because that’s where I put my articles that I want/need to read. From Pocket it is easy to send an article to a notebook in Evernote with certain tags. You could easily modify this recipe though. For instance, if you wanted every article from a blog to go to Pocket, you could change the trigger. Or you could send the articles right to Evernote or simply get them emailed to you by changing the action.IFTTT Recipe: Post from 99u with term 'creativity' is saved in Pocket connects feed to pocket

Like I said earlier, these might not fit your needs exactly, but this might give you some ideas for how you might use IFTTT. The great thing about it is that there’s probably tens of thousands of potential combinations. I’d love to here the recipes that you use the most!

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