How I’m Experimenting with Automation (Spring 2022)

Back in the summer of 2018, I talked about how I was going to dedicate more time to automation. Since then, I’ve automated significant parts of my business, including guest outreach and booking, project creation, and even workspace configuration.

Now that Shortcuts has reasonably good Mac support, and I have an Apple Silicon Mac, I’m re-evaluating my automation strategy and exploring what more I can do with these tools.

Automations I’m Working On

There are currently a few things I’m working on that I think solve interesting problems…a lot more advanced that just connecting Thing 1 to Thing 2.

My “New Trip” Shortcut

Recently I completed a revamp of my travel automation, swapping out Omnifocus for my new task manager, Todoist…though truth be told, Omnifocus is a much better steward to the Apple platform.

The old one would ask for a name and a number of days, then calculate when I needed to order a plane ticket and create some tasks that I do for every travel event. The new one asks for a name, start date, and end date. This allows me a bit more flexibility. Plus, Shortcuts makes it easy to calculate the number of days between 2 days.

I also added 3 new actions:

  1. Create a calendar entry for the event…which isn’t something I remember to do right away.
  2. Create a Craft note in my “Travel” folder for the event.
  3. Run my Packing List shortcut, passing the number of days

These are massive improvements that let me overlook one very annoying shortcoming of Todoist: I can’t use Shortcuts to create subtasks, projects, sections, or labels. In other words, it’s easy to get tasks in, but it’s not easy to organize them…which is frustrating.

Figuring Out How to Send Data From Zapier to Shortcuts

One of the biggest hurdles for me is that my notes app, Craft, doesn’t support Zapier. Because of that, I can’t use it for everything just yet. Instead, I’ve been using Evernote for my newsletter, and Notion for my Podcast Guest notes.

I’d love to change that and I have some thoughts on how to do it. There are 3rd party apps for Shortcuts, like Pushcut, which runs a server your shortcuts can access, Scriptable, which allows for JavaScript on iOS, and Data Jar, which acts as a database for Shortcuts.

I’m hoping with this combination of stuff, I’ll be able to automatically push information to Craft….or at the very least, make that data retrievable with a Shortcut. Doing a daily data dump is better than nothing.

More Workspace Experiments

Shockingly, I just learned that Moom allows for saving window configurations. So I’ll be working more with them to make better workspaces for specific projects.

I’m also going to check out more tools for making recording better, like Bunch, which is text-file automation.

And naturally, I’ll be tinkering with my Stream Deck throughout all of this.

Interested in Watching Me Experiment?

I like working in the open and thinking through problems like this. Currently, there are two ways to see how I work through this stuff:

  1. I live stream weekly on YouTube. Join my mailing list to get notified when I’m going live, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.
  2. Those live streams are only available while they are live. If you want access to the archive, and other experiments, you can join my membership. It’s $50/year and I put out content weekly.

What are you trying to automate? Let me know in the comments!

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