Learning Cause and Effect with IFTTT and FollowUp.cc

Ideas like this one come to me usually once per month and it's always very exciting. After the huge success of The Human Autoresponder just a week ago I'm so thrilled to have worked on another awesome automation so soon. I love automating automations and outsourcing outsourced resources and this is a wonderful example. One of the great things about self tracking is when you can start to see the correlations between inputs and outputs. How does what I eat now effect my sleep tonight?

How does what I wear to this meeting effect the outcome?

How does my body language effect the likelyhood of closing that deal?

These are the kinds of questions that usually require a guess to get somewhere near the answer. Well thanks to a couple wonderful web services you can now put concrete responses to these queries.

As someone who suffered from a chronic illness of the digestive tract, what I ate, and how it made me feel, was incredibly important to me. It's not as easy as it sounds. Some people try to write food mood journals and sometimes it's effective, but other times it can lead people to start eliminating foods from their diet unnecessarily, and I want to avoid food related stress as much as possible. So I came up with a simple but (in my opinion) elegant solution.

IFTTT   Recipe 3911522

Basically if I take a picture of a meal I eat with Instagram, give it a brief description (no calorie counting here) and I tag it #ft (for food tracker) then IFTTT will use the Gmail channel to send an email to 2hours@followup.cc. A couple hours later I get an email saying How do you feel after "Grassfed Steak with Kale"? Without responding or quantifying that in anyway, simply bringing a moment of awareness where I stop to think how I'm feeling, whether it's energized, foggy, hungry, unmotivated, or even sad, it's an incredibly powerful tool because I can begin to develop that natural sense of how the things I put in my body effect my performance. Of course you can take it a step further and create another recipe that simultaneously notes that Instagram picture in Google Drive spreadsheet and you can assign a number based on how you feel, allowing you to crunch some real numbers, but I think that might be overkill for this application.

This got me thinking, what other causes and effects can I use these tools for? Could I hone my sales or coaching skills? So I setup another IFTTT recipe that triggers anytime there is a Google Calendar event with the word "meeting" in it and it sends a message to 7pm@followup.cc so that evening I can reflect on the days meetings and identify successes and failures.

There are a lot of other combinations you can come up with but the basic idea is that you pick some trigger that send a followup.cc to a relevant time to offer you the opportunity to bring awareness to your life. All the technology in the world can't compete with a finely honed sense of intuition (something that CAN be trained).

On a final note, and perhaps the coolest aspect of all. Several months ago I had an idea for an iPhone app based food tracker with a unique feature, several hours after snapping a picture of your food it would pop up and ask you how you were feeling. It's a simple thing but it still doesn't really exist. Of course I could have outsourced the development of the app and then marketing it in the Apple store. I didn't want to go through a big process for something that I saw as an overall distraction to my core business. Now with IFTTT and FollowUp.cc I've been able to implement and test and even share that EXACT functionality. It took 2 minutes and zero dollars to do. If any of you are reading this and think it's a good idea for an app, you have my written permission to run with and make it happen. For those of you with your own ideas, I hope you realize that a minimum viable product may be just a few clicks away.