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Using Zapier to create calendar entries only for *select* notes with reminder dates

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Problem: How to get select notes with reminder dates into Google Calendar (or similar calendar) without having to resort to kludges like typing the date/time into the note title. Cronofy will create a calendar entry for all notes that have reminder dates, which works for those who only use reminder dates on notes/tasks that correspond to an date specific event or deadline that they want to see on their calendar.

For many who use EN as a task manager, lots of notes get reminder dates that we don't want cluttering up the calendar, so Cronofy, while super easy to set up, leaves a lot to be desired. The obvious solution to select a subset of notes with reminder dates for 'calendarization' is to use tags.

As described in this thread, IFTTT can use tags as a trigger (great!), but it cannot pick up the remindertime field, so it uses the date created as the date to use in the calendar entry. So that's a faceplant.

Zapier (like IFTTT but more powerful) does not support tags as a trigger (I provided contact info for Zapier to request that they add EN tags as a trigger in this post - they have gotten requests for this, but not enough, so if you're interested, add your voice to the request!), leaving suboptimal triggers such as new note added to a particular notebook - e.g., you add a note you want on the calendar to a notebook "Cal", and Zapier will create a calendar entry using the reminder date as the calendar date. You know how many of us HATE notebook clutter. So while a dedicated calendar notebook works (especially for the "I want 3-deep stacks of notebooks" crowd), I say "meh". I want to use tags, dagnabit! 

Turns out you can add a filter between the trigger and action in a Zap, and tags ARE supported as filters. So create a Zap:

  • trigger = new note with a reminder date (seems it is limited to new notes, in which case, you might have to make a copy of existing notes you want calendar'ed)
  • filter: only those notes w/ reminders that are tagged !!cal (or whatever dedicated tag you choose). I used "exactly matches" as the filter condition to prevent the filter from letting any other notes through.
  • action = new calendar entry using note title and reminderTime as start and end time (another limitation given that EN's remindertime functionality is very limited, so no ability to pass a duration or actual end time since EN doesn't store that kind of info, though you could probably hack together a solution using text parsing of the note title or even note body)

I just tested this with a couple of new notes, both with reminder dates, but only one with tag !!cal and only the !!cal tagged note made it into Google Calendar. So this might be a winner. Someone else who is interested test this out please (paging @DTLow) as it's late and I need to call it a night.

 

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Looks like it's working. 

Couple of notes for those interested:

  • you can diagnose any issues by going to the Zapier dashboard and selecting the dropdown arrow next to the Zap and choosing History. Alternatively, select "Task History" from the Dashboard. The history will show which tasks/notes got blocked by the filter and which passed through the filter and into your calendar.
  • don't use "exactly matches" as the filter condition. This is because if you have multiple tags, they are seen by Zapier as one string, e.g., "!2-Next,!!cal". Instead, use "contains" as the filter condition.
  • deleting the note in EN does not delete the calendar entry
  • deleting the calendar entry does not delete the EN note 

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One flaw with this approach (and it may apply to other calendar integration solutions depending on how they trigger) is it doesn't pick up changes to reminder dates. So if you change the reminder date on a note in EN, this is not reflected in the linked calendar and you have to remember to manually change the date in the calendar. You could, of course, create a new note with the updated reminder date and this would get transferred to the calendar, but that's more work than changing the date in the calendar manually.

Definitely not ideal, but the Zapier integration I describe in this thread is the best I've found thus far. A more ideal solution is the integrating app recognizing both tag changes and reminder date changes as triggers.

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