Clutter, physical and mental – or, organizing for the differently organized

I’m finally going to read all the books I have stacked up on de-cluttering and getting organized, and then I’m going to share the accumulated wisdom with you.  That is, I’m going to read them if I can find them.

One of the basic themes of this blog is managing mental clutter to become more productive in academia.  However, the world of things can also impinge on our ability to produce new knowledge.  Can you find the receipt from the hotel that you need for your expense report?  Did your library books get shoved onto a shelf of your own books, and then pushed into the back row of two on that shelf – or worse, lost under a pile of clothes that you might give away sometime?  Etc.

If you have consistent problems with organizing things, you may have wondered if it’s because you don’t know how to organize (lack of knowledge), you are bored by organizing (lack of willpower), or you just weren’t meant to organize things in the ways commonly done here and now (lack of ordinary brain wiring).  There are books (and websites, and TV shows) out there that offer all these explanations, and my next few posts are going to look at some of the books and a few of the websites.  (You can tell me about the TV shows – I don’t have TV service.)

When I decided in midlife to become a librarian, I started to visit librarians in their offices for the first time in many years, and I noticed that for the most part, their offices were piles with papers and books.  Just like me!  Except that I suspected that their houses might not be quite so out of control.

I had started reading up on clutter by the early 1990s, because during my twenty years in international development work, I had certainly amassed plenty of paper (someone estimated that professional employees at the World Bank had an average of 100,000 pages of paper cross their desks annually, and I kept a lot of it to read later).  I also bought textiles to display and wear in the countries I travelled to; I had some of my mother’s and grandmother’s painting and collages; and I collected vintage clothing and china.  My family considered me the family historian.  I had just completed a dissertation – can’t get rid of those notecards, or the back-up disks (5-1/4″ and 3.5″).  Or the working paper series I had edited years before, multiple copies in case the organization that produced them ran out.  You get the picture – or if you don’t, see below; but I swear, it’s not all like that table.

Can alternative ways of understanding help, since human intelligence has not?  Evaluna of Interspecies Solutions scopes out the problem

Can alternative ways of understanding help, since human intelligence has not? Evaluna of Interspecies Solutions scopes out the problem

Paper has always been hardest for me, but other things are certainly challenging, and nothing obvious has ever worked, including the books from the 1980s with their here’s – how – to – do – it systems. This first wave of books assumed that people lacked knowledge of how to clean, how to get rid of clutter, and how to be neat.  None of this ever really worked for me, any more than did the well-meaning friends who occasionally re-organized things so I couldn’t find anything.

So I abandoned the how-tos and started looking at the books that came along by the 1990s that promised that if I understood why, I could figure out how. These books have titles like Organizing for Creative People and Organizing from the Inside Out. It was comforting to have someone else tell me what I already knew: that solutions devised by left-brained people wouldn’t work for right-brained people like me/ creative people like me / kinetic thinkers like me – or whatever new style the book at hand had identified.  Furthermore, these books often recognized that being neat and being well organized are not the same thing. Things can be out of sight but unfindable, and conversely one can have lots of piles but know where things are in the piles.

This second generation of books eschew one right way for everyone in favor of several right ways, depending on one’s type,and they’ve been much more fun for me to read.  Some of these different solutions (like how to pile effectively) have helped. And this new way of thinking about neatness and organizational challenges offered insights that allowed people like me to feel better about ourselves in several ways:

  • they uncoupled neatness from functionality (if you can find the bill, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a file drawer, revealing a preference for neatness as a cultural bias (to a point)
  • they developed a sensible rule of thumb to separate cultural preference for neatness from serious dysfunction (are you unable to use most of your furniture because there’s so much stuff piled on it?)
  • especially for women, they eliminated shame and redefined the standard of housekeeping (are you going to keep friends out of your house because it’s not as neat as your mother’s was?)

I’m now seeing a third “generation” of resources, based in part on experience with adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  At first these resources also were prescriptive, with neuronormative (or neurotypical) people telling neurovariant people how to get organized.  The difference between these books and those manuals of the first generation is largely that the newer books understand the problem as one of different wiring, so they do explain why the problem exists and they do propose solutions with great empathy for the challenges of working from brains that work less easily in the dominant mode. However, even newer approaches are less prescriptive as to organizing solutions; instead, they recommend that neurovariant (or highly creative, or right-brained, or ADHD, or organizationally challenged, or chronically disorganized) people do research on themselves and come up with their own solutions, based on their unique energy and interest patterns and our knowledge of habits and how they are formed and broken.

As Mary reported in May I Have Your Attention?, attention deficit sometimes seems to have become the new normal in our hyperconnected world.  I have long known that I have many symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, as do others in my family.  The ways of diagnosing adults seem unreliable to me so I don’t really worry about whether or not I actually have the disorder – but I do know that following some of the suggestions for adults with the disorder does help me.

While I have characterized these as different “generations” of self-help approaches, all of these strains of self-help material still exist side-by-side.  The earlier resources, with their “one right way” approach, have not disappeared, and they can still be a source of useful ideas.  And while multiple approaches to getting organized now exist, the issue of clutter has by no means disappeared.  Indeed, as older households downsize and the ideology of living simply or lightly on the earth takes hold, living with fewer objects may become desirable for more people.

In this series, I want to focus on the practical, but I also want to look at how the solutions are framed.  The field has come a long way; few authors now try to motivate with shame (originally connected with women’s failure to make beautiful, neat, clean homes or their families), and I recently came across a very interesting book addressing the gender elements of the self-help and life organization movement (Micki McGee, Self Help Inc: Makeover Culture in American Life, Oxford University Press, 2005). Even the question of how to characterize the subject under discussion has become charged:  The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization became the Institute for Challenging Disorganization in order to sound less clinical and more positive, since they try to offer education and strategies for overcoming (or at least dealing with) disorganization.  Some members and interested parties like the change, others seem to find it counterproductive.  The terms neurotypical, neuronormative, and neurovariant have entered the mix at (I would say) the fringes of this discussion.

I don’t mean this as a historical survey, but the earliest book I am going to look at is Messie No More (Sandra Felton, 1989).  In the same vein, I have:
Organizing for the Creative Person, Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping, 1993
Organizing from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern, 2004 (second edition)
Organizing for Your Brain Type, Lanna Nakone, 2005
Organizing Outside the Box, Hellen Buttigieg and Sari Brandes, 2009

On clutter, I have:
Let Go of Clutter, Harriet Schechter, 2001
Organizing Sourcebook, Kathy Waddill, 2001
When Organizing Isn’t Enough, SHED, Julie Morgenstern, 2008 (she wrote Time Management from the Inside Out, which I may tackle)
Unstuff Your Life, Andrew J. Mellen, 2010

Of the latest wave, my  main source right now is a website, Ariane Benefit’s AgilZen.  From the ADHD literature, I have ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LIfe, Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau, 2002.

And I do want to take a closer look at Self Help, Inc. by Micki McGee.

So, assuming I can keep these all found long enough to read, or in some cases, re-read them, you will hear more.

 

 

Year for Productivity: Session 12: In Number Like the Stars – Choosing Software for Academic Workflow

year_productivity_graphic_12From our survey of the readers of this blog (thanks so much for responding,  and if you haven’t you still can –  hint,  hint) we know most of you are academic librarians,  with a few academic researchers and others in the mix.   So why are we devoting a third of this course to productivity for the academic researcher?  We hope to be directly useful to them,  first of all.   Secondly,  those of you who are librarians may do research yourself and want the best tool for the job.   Finally,  and perhaps most important,  academic librarians want to help their students and faculty find ways to be more productive.   Some of you may teach classes on productivity tools,  or point out useful tools in other interactions with students and faculty.

The first problem, then, is identifying the tools that might be useful.  The difficulty isn’t a lack of software tools – some days it seems the number of them is almost infinite.   The problem is identifying the most useful,  and finding good reviews or other comments to separate the wheat from the chaff or the gold from the dross or (enter your favorite metaphor here).   Another problem is that productivity tools span across operating systems (PC,  Mac,  or Linux,  anyone?)  and app ecosystems (iOS,  Android,  Windows,  BlackBerry) and you will have users who use all of the above.

Identifying tools for undergrads is easier,  as their research needs are not as intense.   They need the most help identifying where to start their research and find information,  but librarians have that down stone cold and have been teaching these skills all along.   Beyond that,  undergrads need a good word processor and one of the easy-to-use reference managers such as Easybib,  for example.  Some of the productivity apps useful for everyone,  such as Evernote or OneNote,  are useful for them,  and there are plenty of good apps that help them with time management such as the Research Project Calculator.   A Google search of,  for example,  “apps for students”  turns up a number of useful articles,  including some guides written by librarians.

The biggest problem is with finding the best tools for those beyond the undergraduate level,  those doing research over the long term,  of longer length,  and for professional publication.   They need rich,  full-featured tools for finding literature in their fields,  collecting,  analyzing,  and managing data,  keeping track of references,  writing,  time management,  and more.  Where to identify these is a cosmic question almost as important as the answer to Life,  the Universe,  and Everything (which,  as all readers of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker series know,  is 42).

Blogs written by and for academic researchers are one fruitful source.   Of course,  it can be a little frustrating that every post you find by a grad student,  faculty member,  postdoc,  or researcher describing his/her academic workflow uses a different set of tools.   There are two blogs we think are the gold standard,  though.   ProfHacker and GradHacker.   Both started with a focus on research tools,  though have broadened out to include other aspects of life as a professor or grad student.  They still have plenty of great posts on tools,  however.

Research guides written by librarians are another good source.   In exploring them for this post I did not find any more extensive than the one Crystal wrote for her Productivity Tools for Graduate Students class.

Still,  what would be ideal is a directory of research tools that covers all the needs of the academic researcher.  When oh when,  you may ask,  will such a thing exist?  It is my great pleasure to tell you that one does.   It is called Bamboo DiRT.   Bamboo is a project for digital humanities researchers,  and DiRT stands for Digital Research Tools.   “Bamboo DiRT is a tool, service, and collection registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. Developed by Project Bamboo, Bamboo DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.”

Choosing one of those topics takes you to a list of tools.   The entry for each tool has the name,  a link,  a description,  tags,  and comments.   This extremely useful web site is about to get even better with the addition of reviews for tools.   You can by browse the directory by New and Updated,  Recommended,  Category (these are similar but not identical to the topics on the top page),  Tags,  or View All.

Another directory of tools is the Top 100 Tools for Learning.  It is a list in alphabetical order, with the type of software, and its rank in the annual listings since 2007.  It is based on recommendations by educators worldwide.  There is a 300+ page PDF A Practical Guide to the Top 100 Tools for Learning that discusses each tool and is available for purchase.

So,  how to choose the best tools?   It is going to be different for each researcher depending on the kind of research done,  the computer system,  and what tools the researcher is already comfortable with.   For the new researcher beginning from scratch,  I would suggest starting with DiRT,  looking at Crystal’s guide to productivity tools,  checking to see if your library offers a similar workshop,  and starting to follow ProfHacker and GradHacker.

As always,  if you know of any other directories of tools,  useful research guides or blogs,  please let us know in the comments or by email.   We like to share,  and we like to learn from you.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

(1)  Choose one of the Bamboo DiRT categories above, and read descriptions until you find a tool that interests you.

(2)  Go to that tool, play around with it.

(3)  Report on whether you would recommend the tool, and for what purpose, in the comments or by email, and tell us if we have permission to post it in the comments.

Selected Readings:

Wax, D.  Ultimate Student Resource List.  Article from Lifehack that is a compilation of previous articles on the best tools, websites, and advice for students.

Experiencing the iPad – “This blog is about…well, iPads of course and how people experience them. In this case, it’s how people in higher education experience the iPad. We’ll review apps (both educational and entertaining- and those instances when the two collide). We’ll highlight personal experiences through photos and video of actual iPad users. We’ll offer insights about extending the use of certain apps in and out of the classroom for both students and instructors. And, hopefully we’ll engage the educational community around this topic of iPads in higher education on a broader scale.”

Educational Technology and Mobile Learning – blog aimed at all levels of education, heavy on iOS/iPad apps.  Great categories, can find posts on a variety of tools and types of tools.

 

Links Roundup #9

western saddle with a lasso on it

PKM LINK ROUNDUP

Brain,  Interrupted.   New York Times article on yet another study that proves multitasking is a myth.

Disconnected:  My Year Without the Internet.  Interview wtih Paul Miller, who was disconnected for a year.  He affirms some of what has been said about the problems of being hyperconnected, but disagrees with others.

Innovate 2013:  Using Evernote to Help Flip the Classroom.  Not a lot of details, but the idea is an important one to remember: “In a “flipped classroom” structure, students use technology to attend lectures outside of the classroom and use in-class meeting times to practice applying what they learned during lecture sessions….  Instructors who are “flipping the classroom” can use Evernote as a tool to support students’ interactive participation with course content.”

Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or the Buffer App?  If you need to manage Twitter accounts, this post has useful comparisons on which program to use or whether to use a combination.

Document Your Workflow.  One of the Get Organized Columns for PCMag by Jill Duffy.  Good outlines for documenting what you do in your organization.

BiteSize Bio has a series about reference management software.  The series starts with a comparison table of Mendeley, Readcube, Papers, Endnote and Zotero.  Next up is an article on how to Get Organized with Reference Managers for Science – Readcube.  Third was an article on Mendeley.  Fourth article was on Papers.    Fifth is on EndNote.  The last on Zotero, has not been published yet.  The blog seems to be a great resource for academic researches in biology.

Google Engineers:  We’re Trying to Fix Android Fragmentation.  This is, I admit, the most frustrating thing about using Android.  Once a new version of the software comes out, it is months before it gets to every phone, if the phone can even get it.

SpiderOak Encrypted Cloud Storage…  Crystal discussed security in one of her recent posts, and this cloud storage service has tried to address the problem.

How to Upload EPUBs and PDFs to Google Play and Read on Web, iOS, and Android.  Uploading to Google Play Books allows you to sync your reading across all your devices.  Upload includes any annotations made.

5 Tips for Evernote.  Another of Jill Duffy’s Get Organized columns in PCMag.  Some useful tips, particularly about using Evernote while traveling.

Google Play Books Enables User Uploads of E-books, Documents.  This is cloud storage for epub and pdf formats.  Can sync across your devices, as long as you can access the Gooble Play locker.  Upload limited to 1000 files each of 50 MB or less.

Postach.io: Harnessing the Power of Evernote to Create Your Blog.  If you use Evernote and need a simple blogging platform, Postach.io may be of interest.

Evernote Reminders Are Here for Mac, iOS, and Web.  Grumble, gripe – I really really really need this for Android.  At any rate, this is one of the most requested new features for evernote and makes the to-do lists so much more useful.

Here’s the Proof that Education is Pretty Crazy about Tablets.  Growth in the education market from K-12 to colleges and universities is booming.

 

 

Year For Productivity: Session 11: Academic Workflow

year_productivity_graphic_11

NOTE:  If you have not yet completed our Survey, please visit this post for more information and survey link: Year for Productivity: Survey Request.  Thank you!

As we begin our second major theme for our Year for Productivity program, we turn our attention to the topic of optimizing our digital academic workflows.

Workflow is defined (BusinessDictionary.com) as:

A progression of steps (tasks, events, interactions) that comprise a work process, involve two or more persons, and create or add value to the organization’s activities. In a sequential workflow, each step is dependent on occurrence of the previous step; in a parallel workflow, two or more steps can occur concurrently.

To this very “business process” oriented definition, I would also add the academic expectation of “create or perish”.  Notice I substituted a key word here; in today’s world, academic product far exceeds the traditional “publish”.  Today we have many additional expectations for being productive members of the academic community, including blog writing, hosting podcasts and/or webinars, being active in online research communities, creating multimedia supplements to our traditional articles, and more. Therefore, academic workflow is a subset of one’s everyday workflow; it is the process by which we discover, gather, synthesize, create and disseminate our own academic research, regardless of what form that final product takes.

Daniel Wessel (Organizing Creativity) suggests that “Today we have more opportunities to be creative than ever… The Internet not only gives us access to knowledge, affordable materials and tools, it also provides us with new and widely available distribution channels. Everybody now has the potential to be creative, be it in art, science, engineering (including DIY), commercial or private projects…” (preface)

This new expanded array of options brings with it the necessity to master additional applications, juggle an even larger number of diverse plates and amass various types of research knowledge and output while still being constrained by the same limits of time, resources and energy.  Wessel declares that “in almost all cases [creativity] needs knowledge and skills, motivation and determination, time and effort to succeed. And it needs something else that is often falsely seen as an anathema to creativity: organization.”  For those still searching for the magic grail of productivity and organization, he further cautions:  “There is no simple one-size-fits-all solution for organizing creativity. Each person will need to find her own solution.”

Organizing Creativity explores the stages of creativity considering the way that organization plays a vital role in this creative process.  Wessel identifies 6 stages in effective creativity:

  1. Acquiring knowledge and skills with the topic(s) where your creative efforts will focus.
  2. Brainstorming ideas
  3. Capturing those ideas
  4. Expanding ideas into projects
  5. Realizing the creative product
  6. Preserving the realized product.

I like how Wessel causes the reader to stop and think about thoughts and actions that might be instinctive or unconscious, yet by breaking down the elements of each stage, he allows us to consider alternative methods and ideas that could improve our workflows.  Wessel also discusses tools that can assist the process in each stage.

Librarians are in the interesting position of both having their own academic workflow to consider as well as that of their patrons.  In each case, the best tools for an advanced researcher may be not be the best choice for beginning students. Likewise, the tools and processes perfect for those in humanities may be lacking for those performing research in highly scientific disciplines. Carefully considering these differences can aid the librarian when making suggestions to help her users be more effective in their academic endeavors.

In “5 Steps to Make You a Better Researcher”  the key digital tools are suggested to be a combination of bookmarking tools and concept mapping.  Then we have Kalani Craig (Organizing a Digital Thought Process) who, like a number of other blog authors, has generously shared information about her research process in her blog. Nowhere in her process does she mention the use of bookmarking or concept mapping tools.  She says, “Figuring out how I worked and what I needed was the first, and hardest step, and everything else falls into one of the areas of need I identified (and continue to identify, because systems evolve and change).”  Just looking at these two different approaches to the digital academic workflow illuminates the fact that there are as many answers to the problem of optimizing workflow as there are people and products to suggest them.

Over the next several sessions of our program, Mary and I will be exploring tools that answer organizational needs for some of the steps of a typical academic research workflow.  We will be discussing general digital workflow tools, citation, annotation and cloud storage tools as well as alerting tools and mind/concept mapping.  Hopefully our smorgasbord of tools will provide you with options as you analyze the appropriate applications to improve your own digital academic workflow.

 

 For Further Exploration and Insight:

1. Take a few minutes to contemplate your current academic workflow.  Journal about the steps, tools and challenges you experience.

2. What is your favorite tool(s) that you regularly use while doing academic research?  Post a comment on this blog post about your choice and why it works so well for you.

Selected Readings:

Craig, Kalani. Organizing a Digital Thought Process.

McCue, Rich. (2012) Research & Collaboration Tools for Students, Staff & Faculty: Creating a Modern Memex:  A free ebook:

Posner, Miriam. (2013) Embarrassments of riches: Managing research assets.

Temos, Janet. Research and Writing on the iPad. Blog post on It’s Academic: A Blog For and about Princeton University faculty use of technology for teaching and research.  [As of Oct 2011, the Princeton blog moved to: http://blogs.princeton.edu/etc/]

Wessel, Daniel.  Organizing Creativity. Available as a free ebook:

MAC Specific Resources:

A Digital Academic Workflow for the MAC (from History of Science Online):

Academic Workflows on MAC blog

8 Apps that Make Academic Research Easier: MAC based (4/11/2013):

 

 

 

 

Year for Productivity: Survey Request

survey graphic: Creative Commons License Sean MacEntee via CompfightIt seems very hard to believe, but time has been flying and the first 3rd of our yearlong program to increase productivity is now complete.  Next week we will be moving on and turning our focus  from topics that focus on how to improve productivity, and instead begin looking at the concept of academic workflow and exploring tips and tools to help streamline that process.  Before we do that, however, we want to check in with our readers to see how the program is going so far.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to complete this short survey (only 9 questions!).

Academic PKM Blog Poll #1

Thank you for participating! This will help us to understand our readership better and to have a better idea if we are meeting your expectations and needs.    If you would like to provide us with additional feedback , please leave a comment or email us at contactus@academicpkm.org.

Crystal and Mary

Year for Productivity: Session 10: Task Automation

year_productivity_graphic_10All the tasks that we have to keep up with when using web applications would exceed the amount of time and attention that any one of us could handle.  It follows,  therefore,  that the more we can automate tasks we need to do,  the better.   Moreover,  the web is,  if not a series of tubes (as the late Alaska Senator Ted Stephens once claimed),  it does rather resemble an almost infinite series of silos.  Each web page or service is independent,  which means if we want to do the same thing to more than one silo we have to repeat the task.   Or at least that was true before mashups (Quote below from this Wikipedia article).

A mashup, in web development, is a web page, or web application, that uses and combines data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services. The term implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open application programming interfaces (API) and data sources to produce enriched results that were not necessarily the original reason for producing the raw source data.

For example,  HootSuite became available in 2008 and serves as a dashboard for controlling one’s social media accounts.  It is often used by companies or other organizations to coordinate their brand.  Posterous also started in 2008 (though sadly has just shut down)  as a blogging platform that allowed one to disseminate the same blog content across sevices such as Blogger,  Facebook,  Twitter,  Live Journal,  etc.   Rebel Mouse also works with social media to provide a newsletter-like presentation.   Organizations can use it to display their social media content,  and students could use it to create a newsletter for an assignment.  Particular operating systems have,  for some time,  tied together the software in their own ecosystem.   Outlook and Onenote work together as do various Apple products.  New apps that integrate web services are announced frequently and trying to name them all would take up a month’s worth of blog posts.

Currently the winner and still champion of task managers,  however,  is IFTTT (If this then that).   As of this writing,  Ifttt offers connections between 61 web services (called channels).   The code that connects two channels is called a recipe,  which consists of a trigger channel (the “if” part),  an action,  and the result channel (the  “that” part).    For example,  if I post to my WordPress blog, and want to  send it automatically to Twitter or Facebook or Evernote, then WordPress would be the trigger channel, Twitter, Facebook and Evernote would be the result channels and the action would be sending the WordPress post to the three result channels.

Channels include all the usual suspects,  such as the four just mentioned,  but also a variety of cloud storage apps such as Dropbox,  photo sharing services including Instagram and Flickr.   There are more unexpected channels such as date/time,  weather,  email,  and recently the Belkin WeMo brand controllers for home appliances – so you could,  for example,  set your lights to come on at a certain time.   Nor are you limited to your imagination.   Ifttt users have been very generous in sharing their recipes.  So generous,  in fact,  that one drawback of the service is that many new users of Ifttt wind up enthusiastically activating so many recipes it adds to the confusion rather than decreasing it,  with an overload of,  for example,  emails with the latest free books in Amazon,  or free tunes.

Another drawback is that while the service is advertised as simple to use,  it helps to see it in action first.   In the readings section are some quick tutorials to view first before trying Ifttt out yourself.  Note:  I have a Google alert for ifttt, and there are a huge number of articles about it, but the majority are blog posts with simple introductions to ifttt.  So the readings consist of only a few articles or videos that are the best I’ve seen at showing how to use ifttt.

The last drawback that I want to discuss today is that there is a dearth of research-oriented channels.   Certainly Evernote,  Dropbox,  WordPress,  even Twitter and Facebook have legitimate academic uses.   For example,  one might send new RSS items from a saved database search to a specific notebook in Evernote with specific tags.   Still,  the service could be more useful for academic research.

Recently, an exciting  announcement from ifttt developers  has promised a forthcoming enhancement which will allow web services with open APIs (for example, Mendeley and Zotero to name only a few)  to create channels as well.   Enhancements such as this make the future of task automation for academia look bright,  and it is exciting to contemplate what it might look like in ten years’ time.   Will universities set up their own instances of Ifttt,  for example,  which could tie together the Learning Management System,  research databases,  secure cloud storage,  research management tools,  and notebook software?   It will be fascinating to see what develops!

Selected Readings:

Ekart, D. F. (2012).  Tech Tips for Every Librarian.  Computers in Libraries, 32(4), 36-37.

How-To Geek.  Program Your Online Life with If This Then That.

Jiminez, C.  When Lazy Can be Productive. Includes video tutorial.

Price, E.  (2012)  How IFTTT is Changing the Way We Do Things on the WebMaxhable post with background on the company and its planned future directions.

Slaughter, R.  (2011) .  Review of If-This-Then-That  Includes list of pros and cons.

Woodward, M.  How to Use IFTTT to Save Time and Automate Behind the Scenes.

Just for Fun:

Buck, S. (2013).  14 Hilarious If This Then That Recipes.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

(1)  View one or more of the above tutorials. Reflect on ways in which you might be able to use ifttt to automate repetitive tasks that you regularly perform.

(2)  Sign up for an IFTTT account.

(3)  Browse recipes for services you use the most and activate at least one.

(4)  Create one recipe of your own.