Automation can be a great help when it comes to keeping up with your sector while also avoiding information overload. By current awareness, we mean keeping up with the latest information on a particular field of knowledge or sector – a key part of continuing professional development.
IFTTT (if this, then that) can be a great way to automate your workflow and connect different online services like Twitter, Google Drive and Pocket so we put together a list of our favourite IFTTT applets that can be used for current awareness.
If you haven’t used IFTTT before, it helps you connect different online services to automate simple tasks – if THIS happens, then do THAT. A simple workflow that lets you automate a response to a particular action. It can be a great way to save time and reduce the need to manually do repetitive tasks.
‘Applets’ (previously called ‘Recipes’) are the automated workflows that you can use. ‘Services’ are the online tools and platforms supported by IFTTT that you can connect together in your applets.
Most of these applets also make use of some of our favourite other Current Awareness tools like RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and ‘Read it Later’ apps like Pocket and Pinboard but similar alternatives are usually available for other online services as well.
Twitter can be a great way to keep up-to-date with the sector and particular specialist subject areas but can get overwhelming fast. This applet helps keep Twitter useful as a current awareness tool by saving links in tweets you like directly to your Pocket account. If Pocket isn’t your Read it Later app of choice, you can also find similar applets for [Pinboard](https://ifttt.com/applets/114464p-favorite-tweet-url-save-to-read-later-on-pinboard and InstaPaper
Pocket is a ‘Read Later’ app that is now owned by Mozilla. This means it already comes with the Firefox browser, but you can also add it as a button to other browsers or download the mobile app. It can be a great way of storing articles and blog posts for later reading and managing your current awareness workflow.
This applet sends you a weekly email of new articles that have been saved to your Pocket account. It’s set to Sunday evening by default but you can modify that to a time and day that suits your own workflow. It uses Pocket and Email Digest.
If you use your phone’s camera to take quick photos of journal articles, meeting notes and other paper-based documents then you can use IFTTT to quickly store and organise these. This applet, for example, automatically stores photos to a gDrive folder using a widget that you can save to your homescreen on your phone. There are also equivalent applets for other note-taking apps such as Evernote and for storing your handwritten notes as well.
If you have a favourite professional blog or industry website you use to keep up to date, you can use this applet to be notified by email every time there’s new content. This is great for sites that don’t publish too often but provide great content when they do.
Another one that helps you keep up with topics in Twitter without being caught up by the overwhelmingness that can be the Twitter firehose. Use this applet to automatically save tweets containing a particular hashtag to a Google Spreadsheet, another way to keep up with a particular topic on social media without needing to track it in real-time .
If you rather read things on Kindle than on your phone or laptop, then this applet can be a great way to utilise it as part of your current awareness workflow. Just save the journal articles and other documents to a designated Dropbox folder and these will be sent to your Kindle (in a Kindle-friendly format). This is doing using Gmail with your allocated Kindle email address which you can get from your Amazon account page.
Saving time and cutting out inconvenience and repetition can be a huge help which is why we think automation tools have such an important part to play when it comes to keeping up with the latest news and research in a particular field.
Not all applets will suit your preferred workflow but as we’re exposed to more and more information (and increasingly when we’re away from work) being able to quickly bookmark and manage this information is increasingly necessary. Tools like IFTTT can be a helpful addition to these workflows.