How To Deal With An Overload of Online Tools
Technology can be a great accelerator of productivity, but it can also hinder it.
With so many online tools available, how do you decide which ones to use? How do you keep up with all the information overload of online tools?
For Millennials, this is actually kind of normal.
All of today’s (well-created) apps, usually have an Open API so they can easily communicate with others.
1. Find tools that automate or aggregate all others
Therefore, the way I see it is that you simply need to choose a core app that aggregates all functions of the other apps seamlessly.
That, or just map out which app serves which core functions in your business.
For example, Hootsuite or Buffer can schedule/post messages from one place onto multiple platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Or a single image from Instagram can be posted automatically to Twitter/FB.
Services like IFTT or Zapier are also great ways of aggregating repetitive functions from one place, even if you’re signed up to a gazillion services (like I am, because I love testing and experimenting with the latest tools).
2. Spring clean your suite of tools
The next thing to do is make sure you do a Spring Cleaning on your tools every couple months, obviously to keep yourself sane.
I typically keep a spreadsheet with all my username and passwords, thus informing me of exactly how many things I’m registered to. I use LastPass to keep track of all my passwords now securely.
The irony is that all the passwords require one master password, but with its browser plugins, it makes logging in and out of websites a lot easier. If you’re horrible at remembering passwords (I know a lot of people who are), I highly recommend LastPass.
Apart from the passwords, LastPass also gives you an overview of all the tools you’ve signed up for. If you see some that you no longer use, go in and delete both the original account and possibly the account entry in LastPass.
3. Control your notifications
One thing a lot of people fail to realise in our hyper-connected world is just how much control we do have. When dealing with “overwhelm”, think about what you do have control over: disabling notifications, deleting apps, and even switching your mobile off.
Yet, due to the habit-forming nature of some of our most-beloved apps, we tend to delegate our desire for solutions to the software itself. Now, to be fair, software providers certainly should assist in “better” design. However, that is subjective. And it’s also not always on the tool to do what should be done ourselves.
So, for example, when dealing with messenger apps (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, etc.), go ahead and disable all the app notifications. What this does is then allow you to go in and check those apps when you make the time, versus always being at the whim of the applications. In the early days of mobile apps, each vendor only thought about notifications from the context of their own individual app. They didn’t necessarily think about the noise that would come from multiple other apps for the user.
Remember, you have the power to control all the noise. Exercise it. The ability to do is there.
4. Get clear on what’s most important
This perhaps should’ve been placed as number one. Tools are only useful if you know what you’re using the tools for. It’s certainly easy to get enamoured by the shiniest new things, but know that many large corporations today are “efficient” while still using old or antiquated tools.
Yes, these tools could make things faster or even more efficient, but knowing how to communicate is the most important thing. And the same thing applies to the way tools communicate with one another. But without purpose or clarity, tools will only distract you from what’s important.
So, when asking how to deal with tool overwhelm, ask yourself, “Why do I have so many tools in the first place? What activities are really the most important for me to be doing?”
Once you can answer those questions, you can start getting rid of, or delegating, functions that really don’t matter that much.
Also, once you’ve found a tool that works, stick with it and maximise its abilities. Stay with it for at least a month (preferably 3), before moving on to the next thing.
Although it’s fun to try new tools (I’m certainly guilty of this), a tool will only be as good as its wielder. And when you work with more people than just yourself, being wise with your choice of tools will be imperative.