I've always been a fan of hacking together fun little automations using Zapier and IFTTT. Anything from getting reminders to drink water every hour via Telegram, to hand washing reminders when I'm close by my apartment. But during the last week I stumbled across an awesome Podcast over on Indie Hackers.
After listening to this Podcast with intent, I was pretty amazed that AI and automation is now at the stage that even entire side-hustles can and are being run on autopilot thanks to a growing number of automation workflow tools.
So after hearing how Mr. Przemek Chojecki is using AI and automation to power nearly his entire company operations, I thought I could try automating a couple of my mundane work tasks to free up some much needed time for more productive tasks.
So I settled on two main tasks that I wanted to automate:
- Checking my emails twice a day
- Finding blog article ideas for this blog
And instead of using IFTTT or Zapier which can be pretty limiting on a free tier, I decided to try a tool called N8N which is a fair-code licensed and open source tool that was also recommended in the Podcast above and seems to basically be Zapier on steroids. But I would argue that it does require some degree of tech/coding knowledge.
Automating my emails
After reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, I was already checking my emails just twice a day, once at 1100am and once at 1500pm which had already considerably improved my productivity. However, I was looking to take this one step further. As we generally use Telegram at work for internal chat, having a list of my unread emails appear via some sort of Telegram bot seemed like a nice way to dip my feet into the world of automation.
So I took an extended lunch break to spin up the N8N UI and hacked together my very first workflow.
I found it pretty easy to get to grips with the UI, but the thing that took me the most time was getting Google console to play nicely with N8N. But we got there in the end. Thanks to N8N I get any unread emails sent directly to my Telegram twice a day.
Going forward, to fully automate my emails, I want to manage sending, sorting and deleting my emails all via N8N and my personal Telegram bot. But for now, this is already saving me some precious time during my work day.
Delegating article brainstorming to bots
The second thing I was keen to automate was finding blog post ideas. As I'm usually pretty busy, I always find that my blogging time is squeezed out - so anything to help me push stuff out regularly is a huge bonus for me.
So I'm not yet at the level that I want robots writing my entire articles 😅but I do often struggle to find interesting ideas and topics to blog about. So I created a workflow in which once a week I get the top 10 or 20 results from a selection of YouTube search queries (productivity stuff mostly).
Again, I hooked this up to a personal TelegramBot (the same one used above), and get a list of YouTube video titles. This gives me a good sense of what's trending, what to explore further and makes my blogging workflow significantly easier as the brainstorming is more or less outsourced to my Telegram bot.
So that brings us full-circle. I feel like I'm still at the stage that I'm just hacking together little automations, but now with the power of N8N I think I've finally found a tool with both the power and flexibility I need to really elevate my productivity.
Next on my 'list of things to be automated' I'm looking to to pull stocks and FX data from Tradingview each day / week to help inform various investment opportunities. I will also be checking out in great detail the Webflow integration as for those of you who may or may not know, I'm a huge user and advocate of Webflow both personally and professionally.
If you're interested in finding out more about me or more tools and technologies consider subscribing to the weekly Sunday Brief weekly newsletter. Full of thoughts, inspiration, life lessons and interesting reads from that week.
Also, if you didn't notice already, check out my new Resources page for a full-list of cool and interesting stuff I use.