If this then what else?
October 1, 2015 8:40 AM   Subscribe

How do you automate your work and your workflows?

I'm looking for ideas of automating much of my daily web/computer/iDevice use and would love to get ideas of what you are doing.

For example, I love IFTTT to automate saving tweets/generating emails.

I also enjoy using textexpanders on my PC and Mac. Alfred and application launchers are awesome as well. Filejuggler and Hazel are other types of applications that I like.

Suggestions about the following are welcome:
Workflows you've created using any software
Apps that make your life easier
Any other hacks that can let you get work done faster and easier
And anything else that you do to be more awesome at what you do that involves automating stuff :)
posted by rippersid to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Let's see.. I have a series of Hazel rules that trigger on a scanned PDF. First one figures out what company it is from and renames it; second figures out a statement date and tacks it onto the start of the name (so that it becomes 2015-09-15-verizon-bill.pdf). A third creates OmniFocus tasks for docs from certain places (that I usually need to do something about). Finally, they get filed.

On the iOS side, I like playing with Workflow / Launch Center Pro / Editorial / Drafts. I haven't created much that's super useful outside of things related to the game Ingress. One in Workflow opens a browser-based game world map for where I currently am (rather than waiting for the main map to load, clicking an icon to tell it I want it for here, give Safari permission to know where I am, wait for the map to reload, and zoom out a few notches). Another takes the last screen shot I took and moves it to a separate folder in photos so I can easily track progress in the game.

I had one that worked using the Drafts web capture template, sent it through Editorial and out to Poster to post on a Wordpress blog - but I haven't actually used it in a while.
posted by neilbert at 10:57 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Canned responses in Gmail are a little clunky but pretty awesome.

I also like the Gmail app Boomerang which allows you to schedule emails for a later date, or set a conversation to return to the top of your inbox after a period of time so you can follow up on it.
posted by radioamy at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

A lot of how I use Hazel is similar to neilbert, except for my downloads folder. All of my bills/receipts come via email, so I save them as PDFs to my downloads folder. Hazel monitors the folder for files containing certain names (Amazon, ATT, etc) and when it finds them, it sorts the files to a Dropbox folder labeled receipts, sorted by source (for ongoing payments) and labeled with the date (sourced from details in the pdf). For one off receipts, I have a TextExpander snippet that adds @receipt to the file name, which also triggers Hazel.

I also have some complex Hazel actions for *ahem* downloaded content. Depending on the file type, it moves it to different folders for conversion, or opens iDentify to help with tagging, then imports the file to iTunes.

Workflows for iOS is pretty nifty, although I haven't taken full advantage of it. My biggest use case is for my work schedule. My schedule is variable, and while my employer finally added an export option to download our schedules, it gets added to the calendar with annoying titles for the events. I use a workflow to identify those items, duplicate the events with my preferred title, then delete the originals.

Other apps that make my life better: 1Password, everywhere. Keeps me from having to fill my brain with passwords, credit cards, login names. Browser extensions allow auto-fill, copy and paste elsewhere. Dropbox keeps me from worrying about which devices have the file I need. OmniFocus is my outboard brain.
posted by bluloo at 11:24 AM on October 1, 2015

Probably the single most useful thing I've done on all the computers I (and only I) use regularly: Turn the Caps Lock key into a "Hyper" modifier key. It simulates hitting ⌃⌥⇧⌘ at once (which you then press with another key to modify). Makes setting up your own keyboard shortcuts simple without having to worry about collisions.

Textexpander is great:

One mostly-frivolous way I use it is to make typing emoji reactions easier. E.g.

.csi =
( •_•)>⌐■-■

.tableflip = (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

You can also use it in a bit more dignified manner to be able to type symbols like ← → ⌘ ⌥ ␣ ⇧. Useful for documenting things.

There are a bunch of other great snippet sets from Brett Terpstra here. I use the Lorem Ipsum one and the Next X one along with a bunch of other stuff.

The Next X one is particularly useful. I modified it to be able to do the next two weeks. For example, if I type ".tue", I get the upcoming Tuesday (Tuesday, October 06), and if I type ".nexttue" I get the one after that (Tuesday, October 13).

You might also enjoy Keyboard Maestro. If you're unfamiliar, it'll let you automate tons of stuff. For example, you can automate stuff based on the wi-fi network you connect to (so for example if you open your laptop at work, Keyboard Maestro can mount specific shared drives). You can also do things like "When I plug this particular USB device in, do X", so if it's a USB drive, copy these files to/from, if it's a scanner, open your scanning software, etc.
posted by brentajones at 3:49 PM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

My Roomba vacuums the floor daily. Does that count? Although now I need a robot that cleans out my Roomba!

Kinda low tech, but I have my bank mail my landlord a check every month for the rent. Basically all of my bills are autopaid in one form or another. I use GNUCash as sort of a centralized repository of financial information. Not just spending transactions, but also documenting account numbers, URLs, etc. If my apartment burnt down while I was away, I would be able to call up comcast and cancel my service by account number. Finanicial institutions that offer OFX protocol allow you to fashion a sort of a private Mint, but the killer feature IMO is the scheduled transaction thing, which I have like twenty of. You plan these things out, and the software can show you future minimum balances. This is essentially money you don't need, and can spend, or save in a better account. I'm somewhat concerned since I haven't reconciled my accounts in a few months, but my bank also alerts me when checks aren't sent out or my balance is low, so that's sort of a backstop to this.

At one point I used a script to check websites into revision control, specifically so I could then get an RSS feed of the VCS. This was particularly helpful at watching jobs page listings at target firms without said RSS feature. I kinda like my current job, so I haven't really needed to fix it.
posted by pwnguin at 10:22 PM on October 8, 2015

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