Category Archives: Productivity

Cut Down on Email Notifications with Pushbullet and IFTTT

IFTTT recipe with Pushbullet If you’re anything like me you get a ton of email everyday and while there are ones that you want to look at and respond to there are a lot that can wait until later in the day to deal with.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get notifications just for the ones that you want and not be bothered for those you don’t? I thought so too so I rolled my own notification setup with Pushbullet and If This Than That (IFTTT).

To make this work you need a Gmail account (it’ll work with a Google Apps account as well), a Pushbullet account, and of course an account at IFTTT.

I set things up in my Gmail account first.

  1. Setup a new label to flag those emails you want to be notified of – I used notify (I know, really original)
  2. Create a filter in your Gmail account to add your new label to emails from the specific address you want to be notified of (I also flagged it to never to be sent to SPAM just to be safe),

After that was done I then switched over the the IFTTT website and setup the recipe I needed.

  1. For the trigger I selected any new email that has a specific label, in this case my ‘notify’ label
  2. For the action I choose Pushbullet and then selected, Push a note.

At this point you can select any ingredients you want, in my case I like to know who it came from, the subject of the email, and the body of the email.

Now you might be wondering why I chose to do filtering and labeling instead of just setting up a recipe based on the email address of the sender. To be honest you can do that but then you have to create a new recipe for everyone you want to be in your notification group, by using filtering and labeling I can better control the flow.

If you’d like to use my recipe for this, here’s the link.

For those that have rooted your Android phone, pick up Light Manager and you can setup the notification LED on your phone to flash when your note comes in. With that setup you can then shut off notifications form Gmail so only the important ones trigger the LED.

 

Goodbye Evernote, Hello OneNote

OneNote over EvernoteLong time followers of this blog will know that I have been a huge fan of Evernote, so much so that at one point it was my goto tool for everything. I stored my task list in it, clipped articles to it to read later, I stored photos of receipts in it, I even forwarded voicemail and newsletters to it.

As of today though that’s all changing.

Earlier this year there was a blog post by Jason Kincaid where he called out Evernote on their product and it generated enough of a buzz that Evernote CEO Phil Libin acknowledged it.

In that post he mentioned that they had improved the stability of the product and were going to be working to improve all of the clients. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t had that experience. In fact, tonight I was presented this:

20140731_Evernote_Last_Straw

That’s right, you’re seeing a notebook that says it has two notes in it but the display shows that they are none to show. I triple checked that I didn’t have a filter going and verified that the notes exist in both the web and Android clients.

Did I open a trouble ticket? Nope, and I’ll be upfront as to why. In every case I have opened a ticket the resolution has always been the same – remove the software and install it again. The last time I had an issue not only was this the instruction of tech support but they also directed me to install a beta version of the software with no clear, “this will resolve your issue,” explanation.

When you couple that with the issues I’ve recently had with being unable to remove tags from the Windows client (not see in the Android versions) and an issue where the sync setting on my phone kept turning off – I’ve had enough.

So today I decided to cancel my premium subscription (I was a subscriber for over two years) and move to OneNote.

I know that some will see this as a radical move but when you can’t trust a product for something that’s supposed to be a core function it’s time to change.

I’ve been using OneNote for about six months at work and have not had a single hiccup to date – hopefully it will hold up just as well with everything else I’ll be throwing at it.

 

7 Ways to Manage Email So It Doesn’t Manage You

Is it just me or does email always seem to be able to grow like weeds in your inbox? I know it does in mine, in fact it’s next week item for my Project Reboot.

Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, shared seven of his tips to manage the email onslaught today. His first is something I wish a number of folks I know would follow.

1. If you want to receive less email, send less email

As ridiculously simple as it sounds for such a pervasive problem, I’ve found this to be the golden rule of email management: Send less of it.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve received multiple messages about the same topic – usually because the sender didn’t take a few minutes to collect all their thoughts before sending.

Tip number five is a good one too.

5. Give some thought To: the recipients

It seems like for many people, the To: and Cc: fields in email have become largely synonymous. They’re not

Jeff talks about making sure the right person is on the To: line – I’ve experienced the opposite issue, having been called out in a meeting for not responding when I was on the CC line, go figure.

If you have a few moments you should check out the whole article on LinkedIn.

Thanks Google, but I’ll Keep my Evernote

Yesterday Google officially announced what has been swirling around as a rumor for days, their note taking application – Keep (read the announcement).

The service is very similar to Springpad and my personal choice, Evernote. It allows you to input your notes, take pictures, and create lists. Currently you can use it from your Android phone (running 4.0 and above) or from the web – Google Drive integration is coming.

If you had asked me about this service a few months ago you might have gotten me to take more than just a look at – I might have even jumped to it, but not now for a variety of reasons.

The shutdown of Google Notebook

There are still a few of us out there that remember Google Notebook, Google’s original note taking app. We also still remember when they decided to shut it down and everyone went scrambling for a way to save off their notes (this was before takeout). The folks at Evernote, among others, stepped up and offered a solution and in some cases tools to import your notes.

The shutdown of Google Reader

This was just announced (read about it here) and like Google Notebook it hits home for many of us. I’ve been a fairly regular user of either Reader or a service that depends on it for some time and have been now forced to find an alternative (I’ll post about it when I decide). I won’t sit here and “rage against the machine” that Google is for taking away this service as it is their right and they have given us plenty of time to migrate to something else. It does go to show though, that once again we were beholden to the almighty Google.

My decision to diversify

I mentioned a few months back, I’m diversifying my tool set. As many who know me would tell you, if it was a Google product, Scot would be “all in,” but that has changed. While the prospect of having my notes available right there in Google next to other items of mine I cannot bring myself to contradict my earlier decision. Will Google Keep be better than Evernote? There’s no way of knowing at this point but given that Evernote is working to be a 100 year startup, have clients for all the major platforms (Linux the notable exception) and have a profitable business model (yes, I pay for it) it’s hard to argue against them.

So, I know where I stand, how about you? Will you take to the walled Google Keep or use a different tool for your note taking and web gathering? Take a minute and share your thoughts.

Don’t mess with my todo app!

todotxt_logo_2012I’ve never understood the reason why folks have to mess with a tool and try to turn it into something that it’s not. Take the “to do” app for example.

At it’s heart the todo app or list is just a listing of those items that you need to accomplish. Nothing could be simpler or cleaner when it comes to productivity – it goes on the list and you cross if off when it’s done.

So why is it that every time a solid option comes along to manage your todo list there’s a group that wants to “improve it,” by adding what I would consider just a bunch of unneeded bells and whistles to it?

They want to add things like,

  • Due dates
  • Reminders
  • Location awareness (for the mobile versions)

Folks, those items shouldn’t be part of the tool you use to manage your list.

If the item as a due date, put it on your calendar.
If you need a reminder to do it, put it on your calendar.
Location awareness? I don’t need my phone to go off as I drive by the store to remind me to stop. I made a list of things I need to pick up – it’s why I’m there in the first place.

I’ve been that person that had to have every bell and whistle in the tool and after spending more hours than I can count I always come back to the mantra, “keep it simple stupid.”

Keep it simple and the tool will do the work you need it to do.

Do you like all the add-ons or do you like to keep it simple? Why not sound off in the comments.

Image from Todotxt.com