A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fiasco I experienced with the Mailbox app for iOS deleting important emails. I debated removing it, and when I saw an intiguing IFTT recipe, I decided to see if it answered my needs.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with IFTT, it stands for If This Then That, and it’s a service which automates tasks, following certain “recipes.” In my case, the recipe was “When I star an email in Gmail, create a Google calendar event.” Hmm. Might that solve my problem?

Turns out it does. The recipe works perfectly, and I end up with a calendar entry for 10:00 am the next day. Using Pocket Informant, my favorite calendar app, I convert the entry into a task, and voila! Everything’s the way I want it.

I also label the email as “Later,” and I’ve developed the habit of checking that label once a day or so to be sure I’m not missing something.

While it’s not as simple as swiping an email to return later, I think I’m handling emails fewer times. I had a bad habit of swiping away emails to come back “tomorrow” way too many days in a row. With this system, I schedule the task for the day I think I have time to deal with it, and the email stays safely archived until I process it.

This system adheres better to the Getting Things Done system (which I use and love) by:

1. Handling something once
2. Having all tasks and calendar entries in one place

With Mailbox I was effectively keeping my tasks in two places, which isn’t as effective.

So thank you, folks at Mailbox for making me change to a better system. Although temptation may strike in a few months, if the rumored Gmail overhaul happens. According to this article, it may feature a “snooze” option similar to Mailbox. Who knows? That may work well too. Until then, I’ll stick with the IFTT recipe.

Anyone have a favorite recipe to share? I just started using IFTT, and I’m certain there’s lots more ways I could save time with it.


  1. The recipes that I have created and use the most are automated things.

    One that automatically when I get to work turns my phone to vibrate.
    One that automatically when I get to work texts my wife to tell her I am there safe.

    That one tattles on me when I go out to lunch in the middle of the day rather than bringing it from home. *wry grin*

    • @BOB, oh, you are brave. I don’t want my phone tattling on me, although because my husband and I have our phone on the same iCloud account, he does see every time I go to Starbucks, and he enjoys teasing me about it.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.