Help your apple watch work for you

So you are either thinking about getting an Apple watch, or you just got one, and you ask yourself “what’s next”?

The Apple watch is an amazing piece of technology, but it is more useful when it is used for what it was designed for … let me explain …
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People ask me “why do you need it? you have an iPhone and an iPad already, isn’t that redundant?” some people may argue that it is, since you can already do all of the things that you can do with your Apple watch using your phone. I argue that it depends on what you designate your watch for. It’s like Evernote and Omnifocus, you can potentially use either of them to fulfill GTD or data collection, but they have different purposes, and therefore they were designed differently. The Apple watch was designed for quick interactions, I see it as my personal assistant to make sure I do not miss special events.

When I first got my watch, I enabled most of the notifications it supports … what I found out is that very quickly everything became “white noise”. I received a message on my watch every time I got an email (about 30 times a day on a quiet day), I also got a message when someone SMS’d me, when I got a hip chat message, calendar invites, the watch reminded me to stand up etc … you get the picture, I was “poked” by my watch anywhere from 50 to 80 times a day, that’s quite disturbing, and the exact opposite of what it is intended for .. it suppose to HELP you, not make you more anxious.

I decided that emails is the big culprit, so I  found a way to minimize the number of emails I received every day, removing all of the craft and leaving the important emails (see this blog), but that was not enough, I was still getting way too many emails. This required a different approach.

I still wanted to get notified about servers going down or high server loads (work related), home Alarm triggers,15 minutes before a calendar event begins etc. I decided to standardize on one alerting mechanism for those. It is called “pushbullet”. When combined with another tool (ifttt – stands for “if this than that”), it allows you to send messages to yourself based on specific events that are of interest to you.

What will you need to make this work?

  1. A free account with IFTTT (https://ifttt.com)
  2. A free account with Pushbullet (https://www.pushbullet.com)
  3. An iPhone and an Apple watch  (dahhh)

Some of the recipes I use are:

  • Send me a pushbullet if a calendar event begins (it sends the massage 10 – 15 minutes before the start time)
    Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 2.33.52 PM
  • Send me a pushbullet when I drive by my favorite electronic store, reminding me to look at my electronic related shopping list (there is always something to get – home / work related)Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 2.33.40 PM
  • Send me a pushbullet when my alarm goes off at homeScreen Shot 2015-08-02 at 2.35.25 PM
  • Send me a pushbullet message when I send an email to an email account I created for it – I will not share the email address here 🙂 (that one is using the Gmail channel in ifttt)Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 2.33.19 PM

The last rule allows me to send alerts to a special email address that triggers a pushbullet message for example from our application monitoring system at work. That email address is different than my regular one, so I can control what emails become notifications on the watch.

To make a long story short, I still receive SMS, Hip Chat messages that are directed to me, and the above rules. The trick is to minimize the notifications on the watch to only ones that are important enough to get noticed.

Other things I use my Apple watch for:

I hope that this blog post will help existing and future Apple  watch owners.