Automate your Life with IFTTT

Use IFTTT

IFTTT is a super powerful web app that stands for If This Then That. It allows that you create digital recipes that combine different products you use.  It allows you to make connections between products that don’t normally interact together

IFTTT can enable you to send all your gmail attachments to Google Drive.  You could save Facebook pictures to Dropbox.  It will even text you when an item of interest pops up on Craigslist.

Their premise is simple.  You activate channels for apps you use.  When you’re ready to create a recipe, you choose your initial channel.  IFTTT shows you potential triggers for your selected channel.  For example, your trigger could be when you post to Instagram.  Next you choose an action, such as post to Twitter.  This will create a full-sized twitter image based on your Instagram post.

I have been an IFTTT user for several years now. It works so seamlessly that I forget about it most of the time.  That isn’t a bad thing! It makes my life much easier.  Initially I used it to automate posts from my Feedly subscriptions into Evernote.  This allowed me to use one program (plus IFTTT) for everything.  Since then, they have created over a hundred other channels.  You can even have it turn on your lights at a certain time.

There are thousands of recipes already created for you to use.  You can keep it as is or alter it to fit your needs.  Nothing fits your needs? Start from scratch and create your own recipes instead!

The best part of IFTTT?  It’s all free!  What would you automate in your life?

 

Currently

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Reading The Notebook!  I haven’t read it in several years and am really enjoying it.  I forgot how good it is.

Writing blog posts!  I have a few in the works and am excited to get back on track.

Listening to Pandora’s 2000’s Pop.  Tony found it yesterday and we have been listening to it during the evenings.  It’s a nice trip back to high school.

Making Liam a sweater.  We don’t put clothes on him but it’s an easy way to get him to go outside when there is snow on the ground.  Usually he tries to run back to the couch when he sees the snow.   If he has a sweater on he’s more willing.

Loving Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato.  We picked some up at the store this week on a splurge and it tasted awesome.  Then I found the chocolate bits.

Feeling tired of the snow.  It hasn’t been that bad, but it snows just enough to be annoying when I leave in the morning.

Excited for the weekend to get here so I can be lazy.  It’s lazy weather and I have too much to do as is.

Your turn!  What are you currently?

 

Introducing 52 Hats Project

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I am on a mission to make 52 hats this year and donate them all to people who need them.  When I chose present for my word this year, I knew I’d need something to keep my hands busy. Normally while I’m watching tv, I would be on my iPad playing games or reading and I wouldn’t get anything out of either activity.  With knitting, I will be able to keep my fidgety hands busy and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix!

I stumbled across She Makes Hats in December when she did a collaboration with Elise Blaha and it stuck with me.  Knitting hats for charity would give me something less distracting to do with my hands and I get to use another definition of my word – a gift.  I think it’d be nice to keep a couple of hats in my car to pass out to the homeless I see when out and about.  There are a ton of charities out there who collect handmade hats for various people in need.

I want to keep my hats local for now and the emergency shelter nearby said my hats are always a welcome gift.  Many of their clients have to walk to work in freezing weather and would love donated winter accessories.  I dropped off a bundle of hats yesterday and will have more soon.  Eventually I would like to branch out to other organizations, but I like knowing my hats are helping someone in my city.

The biggest hangup is that I never actually knit a hat until I settled on this goal.  I taught myself to knit while Tony deployed and made a scarf three years later.  However, my best friend is an expert knitter and was more than willing to help.  Plus I already had the supplies I needed to try it.

It took me a week to finish my first hat and I worried it would be too big when I finished until I sewed up the seam and saw it was infant sized.  It found a home with a cute little guy and I found some bigger needles!  Chrissy helped me with a better pattern and was even nice enough to mail me needles that would work better and some yarn to get me started.  Now I can finish a hat in a day or two and 52 hats feels much more doable.

Interested in doing something in your community?  Grab some yarn, a pattern, and needles and get started!  There are tons of resources out there for charity knitting (or crochet!).  You don’t have to keep your knitting local either!  There are organizations who collect knit items for kids across the country and the world.

I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram and even have my own hashtag.  Who would have thought #52hatsproject wasn’t taken?  You can follow along there and if you decide to take on your own 52 hats project, please hashtag them! I’d love to see!

Coffee Talk

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I planned a post for this week and just wasn’t feeling writing it last night so I thought we’d chat over coffee instead!

I would tell you about my new coffee maker.  For Christmas, we used my surprise bonus to buy a Nespresso machine.  I’ve been talking about one for three or so years, so we finally made the trip to Kansas City and bought it.  Of course, I’d offer to make you one because I have definitely stepped up my coffee game.  We even found an off brand of coffee we like (Hiline Coffee) to help cut the expense a little bit.

We would chat about how my knitting is going.  I had the crazy idea to try to make 52 hats this year to give to people who seemed to need them.  Without ever having made one previously.  I taught myself to knit when Tony was deployed and love that it keeps my hands busy.  I found a pattern, grabbed some old needles and yarn I had lying around and worked really hard to finish my hat that was intended for Tony.  It was infant sized.  Not to worry, it found a home with a cute little guy and my best friend sent me some bigger needles and a pattern that should work much better.  I should finish my first adult sized hat this weekend.  52 hats definitely feels more manageable now.

I would tell you about how guilty I feel about not blogging more than once a week.  I committed to having my posts be longer, so pulling back was the best idea, but I was considering posting more often before, not less.  I’m sure I’ll find my groove soon and be able to bump my posting schedule back up.  I feel like I have so many big ideas and don’t feel like I have the time to fully devote to them.  I’m going to reinstate working on my blog an hour every day again.  I have to make time for it instead of trying to find the time to do it.

I’m trying to convince Tony to let me do this to one of our closets.  I LOVE the idea of a space I can shut myself in to work and I don’t really need much.  I also really like that I could close off the space when I’m done and separate life from blog life a little bit.  I even have the perfect desk to get started.  I just need to find a new home for the stuff in the closet I want to use.

What would you share if we had a coffee date?

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

I am trying something a little different with my goals right now.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in the overall aspect of your goal.  Maybe you want to write a novel or lose weight.  You focus all of your energy on the end result and what you need to do to get there. It can get overwhelming fast.  You wait to start because you are unsure where to begin. Often you throw all you have behind your goal and hit a brick wall when it sucks and you lose motivation. Your goal seems so big you feel like you’ll never reach it.

In general, I like to break my goals down into steps.  I want to accomplish something, so I need to do these ten things to get there.  However, I still spend all of my energy focused on the end result.  It’s easy to become discouraged after a while because my goal starts to feel far away.  The reality of how much work I have to do to get there starts to hit and it’s overwhelming

Lately I am working to accomplish one step that will bring me closer.  Rather than of focusing on my end goal weight, I am thinking about how much better I will feel to see one less pound on the scale.  How accomplished would you feel if you just worked on the next 100 words?  Don’t worry about the 49,900 other words you need to finish your novel right now, just get 100 done.

With progress comes motivation and once you finish that first step, you will see it become easier to get the next completed.  Don’t lose sight of the finish line, but focus on getting over the next hurdle.

Jess Lively reminds us to start where you are and just keep going.  It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned professional; you won’t get anywhere unless you just get started.  Planning can only take you so far and eventually you’re going to have to put in the work.

Not sure where to start?  Pick one thing off your to do list and do it.  Maybe it is the thing you can knock out right now.  You may have more pressing tasks to do, but finishing one task can help you find the momentum you need to get everything else done.

January Currently

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Reading About a Boy.  I really enjoyed the tv show. When I spotted it in the library, I knew I had to check it out.  It’s still super fun, but some points are dramatically different from the show.

Writing not too much.  I’m working on brainstorming some big posts, but I’m waiting for the writing bug to strike.

Listening to The Piano Guys on Google Play.  A Thousand Years will always have my heart.

Making hats.   Slowly but surely I’m working on my second hat.  It’s taken some time for me to feel comfortable with what I have so far.  I’ve probably unraveled two hats so far, but it doesn’t seem worth it to keep pushing on something that I know I won’t be happy with.

Smelling Strawberry shampoo.  I like it.

Wanting to Buy Rory’s Story Cubes!   They’re pretty inexpensive, but how fun do they look??

 

Loving My new coffee maker.  I’ve been excited for a Nespresso for like two years.  We finally splurged and made the trip to Kansas City to buy one.  I’m in love.

 

Feeling slowly productive.  I’m not fast, but I feel good about what I’m creating.

Excited for Saturday Dates.  Tony and I are making an active effort to schedule creative dates on Saturday Morning.  We drink coffee and talk about interesting articles we read that week or play Table Topics.

Your turn!  Pick a currently and share it in the comments.

Using Pomodoro to Minimize Distraction

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When I chose present as my word for 2015, I knew it was exactly what I needed.  It’s time for me to stop doing so many things at once and doing a poor job.  Procrastination is a big issue for me.  I need to work on getting things done so I can move on to other things.  I hate having something hanging over my head but I am good at putting it off until the last-minute.

However, I know this won’t be easy.  I am easily distracted.  I think this is why I like setting goals.  They allow me to dream big and bounce from idea to idea.  It’s easy to daydream, but not so easy to make it happen.  This won’t be a fast process.  I’m breaking habits that I’ve had my whole life.

In order to help myself focus, I decided to start small with my Pomodoro timer.  (My favorite is Focus Booster.)  If you’re unfamiliar, the Pomodoro Technique is a way to manage your time.  It has you set a timer for an allotted amount of time and you work until the timer goes off.  Then you take a short break.  Pomodoro is traditionally done in 25 minute intervals with a three to five-minute break.

This is a great system to work on that task you’ve been avoiding.  It feels great to know you only have to work on it for twenty minutes before you can move on.  Otherwise, I sit there staring at it until I find the motivation to do it.  Pomodoro is a great way to harness your available time and get stuff done.  It’s amazing how much time you gain when you aren’t letting it slip away.

Today I started small by working for 20 minutes and taking a 10 minute break.  Before I knew it, I finished all my annoying tasks.  It also made time go much faster.  My day doesn’t feel like it drags on when it’s broken into 30 minute sections.

There are even apps to organize your to-dos around a Pomodoro Timer.  This app looks promising.  30/30 is another option.  If an app is too distracting, a simple kitchen timer or stopwatch will do the trick.  Find what works best for you.

What do you use when you need to focus on something?  Let me know if you try Focus Booster or another Pomodoro App.

My One Little Word: Present

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One Little Word is an ecourse that encourages you to choose a word for the year.  While many people set a list of goals for the year, OLW has you consider a word that helps you reach those goals.  It can be much more flexible with you than deciding you will do yoga every day.

Last year, I signed up for the course on a whim and felt like I should have selected a better word.  Since I was already a few months into the project, I decided to save the prompts and try again later.

I considered my word for a long time but kept coming back to present.  I want to be present in every moment.  I want to stop doing several things at once and focus on one thing at a time.

I’m excited to see how present will work itself through my life.

Being present means leaving my phone at home when we go out to dinner.  I can completely focus my attention on my husband if I’m not tempted to check my phone.

Being present means being more intentional with my time.  I will be more productive if I stop trying to do so many things at once. I don’t need to start something right now.  I will have more time if I finish one thing before moving on to the next.  If I would do one thing at a time, it would take me much less time to do all and I would produce stronger work.  I want to be more intentional about not starting something until I have attention to commit to it.

When I started thinking about present as a word, I was so focused on being present in the moment.  But present has another meaning all together:  a gift.  I’m excited to explore present through that definition as well.  How can I be a present to others?  What can I do to identify the best present to give others?  Maybe it’s giving someone a little more patience when they frustrate me. Or buying a bag of oranges for the homeless person I saw outside the store.

What about presents we give ourselves?  A moment to enjoy my coffee in the morning before I leave for work would be a wonderful gift.  Taking time to make a good meal I would enjoy is an amazing present.

I hope for present to be a word I grow through this year and I can’t wait to share my progress with you.

Do you choose a word for the year?  Have any big goals you want to reach this year?

I’ll Be Back

I’m burned out.

Work has kicked my butt for the last couple of weeks and by the time I get home I want to spend the evening on the couch playing games on my iPad and watching Gilmore Girls.

I had every intention of finishing my ebook by Monday, and I just couldn’t will myself to put in the effort needed to finish it.  I’ll finish it, but I need to step away from the blog.

I’ll be back January 1 with lots of fun content for you.

Friday Social

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Friday!  I thought I’d never see you!  This has been one long crazy week.  I’m excited for a quiet weekend!

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you about my ebook.  I had every intention of launching Monday (and I still plan on it!) but I didn’t expect this week to kick me so hard in the butt.  I have a lot of work ahead of me, so we’ll see what happens.  I’m ready to be finished with it so I can move on to other projects.

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you I’m feeling a little in planner limbo lately.  My A5 feels too big and my (Levenger) compact feels too small.

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you about my new push to be healthier.  I’m super excited to eat better and move more.  I just need to make sure it’s stupidly easy.

What are your weekend plans?