Trimming Distractions with Zapier

I’m always looking for ways to streamline my workflow, reduce clutter, and eliminate distractions. I’ve been effective in this quest throughout recent years, but I find myself paying more attention to email than is preferable. There are plenty of messages that can wait until the end of the day. However, others demand a more immediate response. Perhaps there’s a pull request that needs my review or a new issue that’s been assigned to me in Kaizen or Zendesk. Many of these can also wait, but wouldn’t it be great to address them without introducing the unnecessary distractions that accompany the routine checking of email?

Enter Zapier.

Zapier allows me to seamlessly integrate the services I use in ways that make sense within my workflow. Specifically, it responds to events in one service by triggering actions in another.

Here are a few events that concern me day-to-day that commonly lead to checking email more frequently:

  • Someone mentions me in a GitHub Issue or Pull Request
  • Someone makes a comment in a Kaizen thread to which I’m subscribed
  • Someone assigns me to a Zendesk ticket

Rather than requiring me to check email, I’d like to be notified of these events in one or more of the following ways:

  • Send me a HipChat notification
  • Send me a message on Google Talk
  • Add a new task to my Asana inbox

With these simple sets of events and responses, it becomes more feasible to check email just one or two times per day while still staying on top of everything important. It also allows me to be more mindful of priorities and effectively separate various concerns throughout my day.

Originally published at on March 8, 2013.