Top 10 applets to help automate your business

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Top 10 applets to help automate your business
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Save time with Slack, Gmail, Trello, Google Drive and other apps by using the free automation tool, IFTTT.

Administrative tasks are an inescapable fact of business life, but they’re also the cause of a lot of wasted time and potential. It makes no sense to hire a talented, experienced employee and then have them spend half their days doing menial tasks.

The element of distraction can be destructive too. If workers need to instantly respond to incoming messages and work requests, their work will suffer. Researchers at George Mason University found that even brief distractions can significantly affect the quality of a person's work. Recent research by Gloria Mark of the University of California found that it takes the average worker 25 minutes to get back to a task from which they've been distracted.

Clearly, if your business is to thrive, you need to minimise the amount of time your staff spend dealing with internal administration tasks – and the number of time-wasting distractions. And the answer could be as simple as IFTTT.

Simple automation

Short for If This Then That, IFTTT is a web-based automation platform. You can think of IFTTT as a virtual butler that carries out minor tasks automatically on your behalf without waiting to be told.

It's become very popular thanks to its simplicity, and its ability to integrate with a wide range of web services: for example, you can activate pre-configured IFTTT ‘applets’ to automatically download Facebook photos to Google Drive, sync your Alexa to-do list with Wunderlist, or be alerted when the International Space Station passes over your house.

But IFTTT isn’t just for home users. It can also hook into Slack, Trello, Gmail, Google Drive and a host of other business and productivity applications.

You might be surprised how powerful its automation applets can be, saving you and staff hours of valuable time. And best of all it’s free and many of its supported applications are free or have free editions.

Signing up to IFTTT

IFTTT works by interfacing with services you already use, so to get started you'll need to set up an IFTTT account and authorise it to access these services on your behalf. You can do this at ifttt.com/join. Don't worry, you don't need to stay logged in all the time: once you've set up your applets, you can log out and close the browser and they'll continue to operate. You only need to be logged in to edit applets and create new ones.

Certain applets run completely automatically, responding to external events and triggers such as an incoming email to a specified address. You can also create applets that respond to direct input from you: the easiest way to provide this input is via the IFTTT app, which is free for both Android and iOS.

Here, we’ve provided our pick of the ten best IFTTT applets for business, but there many more applets available that could big time-savers for you and your staff.

Next: Top 10 IFTTT applets for business

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