For my first non-weightloss post, I decided to elaborate on one of the productivity tools I use, that’s really become one of my favorites. IF This Then That, or as most often seen IFTTT.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT is essentially a switchboard. It’s a service that listens for events or “triggers” on certain services, which IFTTT refers to as “channels”, and per your instructions or “recipes” takes some action on a different channel.

Simple example, one you’ve possibly already seen the effects of: when IFTTT sees a new item on the RSS Feed for this blog, it posts a link to it on my twitter, and facebook page. The practical upshot? I simply need to commit a new post, and my social media outlets are automatically updated to announce it.

Connecting channels

Since, Every IFTTT recipe requires at least one channel, You’ll need to connect some. The process of connecting channels is made incredibly easy. IFTTT Will simply authenticate your account for said channel, and you’re ready to start making recipes. Not sure which channels to connect? IFTTT has over 300 channels. They categorize them into different fields, and make the list searchable. They have social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They have channels for activity trackers such as Fitbit or Jawbone. All sorts of channels for your Android or iOS device. They have several channels for blogging, A massive selection of smart home channels, and even channels for NASA, and news.

Building a recipe from scratch, and using ingredients

IFTTT does a great job of recommending recipes to get you started, and building a recipe from scratch is very straightforward, but if you’re not familiar with programming concepts like variables, then the idea of “ingredients” and how to use them can sometimes get a little confusing, so I’ll discuss them here.

First the easy stuff. Pick a trigger channel, an event, and then an action channel.

Empty Recipe

Trigger Channel

Action Channel

Now, The text fields you see when filling in the outcome action, have the ability to add recipe “ingredients” These show up as gray boxes unless the field is being edited. Then they are bounded by double curly braces, like so: {{EntryUrl}}.

Ingredient Field

If you don’t know which ingredients are available to you, a small flask icon will appear in the corner when the field is being edited. These ingredients change each time the recipe is activated. For instance, in this recipe, I don’t want to make a new reddit post with the same title each time, I want to use the title for the new feed item that triggered this recipe to run.

Ingredient Picker

Then you’re all done! So from now on, when I make a new post to my blog, IFTTT will automatically create a discussion thread on this blog’s subreddit. So Sign up, connect some channels, look around and start automating!