I'm a list maker when it comes to getting things done, so much so that my lists have lists. But who will hold me accountable or remind me if I forget a task? I took some inspiration from our developers to set up an alert using Todoist, Zapier and Dead Man's Snitch. This post originally appeared on the Collective Idea blog.
Here's just a sample of current items on my numerous lists:
- Bring clothes in trunk of my car to a charity shop
- Practice MindWise
- Bathe the dogs
- Call grandma to make dinner plans
- Brainstorm new blog ideas for personal blog
- Apply to be a Girls on the Run coach
As you can see, some of these items don't really have a deadline but just need to get done. I want to make sure I keep hacking away at my terribly long list, so I told myself I would mark an item off my list at least once a week. But what happens when I forget to do that?
Well, this is where I picked up a little inspiration from the talented developers in my office. Many of them regularly use Dead Man's Snitch, one of our products at Collective Idea, for monitoring periodic tasks like cron jobs (scheduled tasks in Unix/Linux environments) or Heroku Scheduler. How Dead Man's Snitch works is you set up a "snitch" for every job, task or process you want monitored. Each snitch then has a URL associated with it that is pinged every time said process occurs. If the snitch fails to check in, you'll get an alert letting you know about it.
To get Dead Man's Snitch to work, I somehow need to get a snitch set-up to alert me if I forgot to mark a task off my to-do list every week. That's where Zapier comes in. Zapier has a few to-do list apps connected to it and after looking at them all, I settled on Todoist.
How to Set Up Your Weekly Reminders
So, to get things started, the first thing we need to do is make a new "Zap" on Zapier by clicking "Make a Zap!" From there it will ask you to "Choose a Trigger App" and that's where you'll do a search for Todoist. That's because Todoist is going to be the trigger that pings your snitch's URL every time you mark an item off your to-do list.
After choosing Todoist as the Trigger App, select "New Complete Task" as the actual trigger. Every time a new task is completed, the trigger is hit.
Once prompted, connect your Todoist account and load your project (or in other words, the list you want to be marking stuff off of). You should see a dropdown menu of all the lists in your Todoist account. I just have the one called "Personal".
The next window will now ask you to "Test your Todoist trigger by fetching an existing complete task." This is where things get a little wonky. Go back to the Todoist app, add a test item to your list and then mark that test item as complete.
Now go back to your Zap in Zapier and click "Fetch and Continue". If it worked properly, it will say "Test Successful!"
Now we need to add our "Webhooks by Zapier" Action; you'll want to choose the "get" option. That's what is going to ping our snitch URL every time the trigger — an item on our Todoist list being completed — is hit.
Next, it's going to ask you for a URL. That's where you're going to put your snitch, so let's head on over to Dead Man's Snitch to create it.
I named mine "Check an item off your To Do list" and set the interval to go off weekly, as I want to be alerted every week if I fail to complete a task. Click "Save".
Now, you'll get your unique snitch URL.
Let's copy that URL and head back on over to Zapier, where you'll paste the URL in your Zap.
Essentially what we've just done is we've said, "OK, every time a Todoist item is completed, use Webhooks to hit this URL (our snitch)." If the URL is hit every week, Dead Man's Snitch considers it a success. If it isn't hit (that is, I didn't complete at least one item for the week), Dead Man's Snitch sees that and will email me telling me about the missing check in.
Next, you'll want to test everything. Hit "Save and Continue", and Zapier will ping the snitch and let you know the test is successful or not. Also, at the same time, you'll get an email from Dead Man's Snitch letting you know your snitch is properly reporting in for the first time.
I set up another snitch in Zapier that uses MapMyFitness and Webhooks to alert me if I forget to run every day. I'm training for a marathon right now and also attempting a #runstreak, so I'm hoping this combination will keep me honest!
Keeping on Task Using Dead Man's Nitch [Collective Idea]