How to Manage Your Apps Instead of Your Apps Managing You!

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In my previous post [“A Few Words About Communication Chaos”] I shared research confirming what we all deny but in our hearts we fear is true – humans are bad (reeaalllly bad) at multi-tasking.  We only do it because it makes us high (no, really – reread the science here). 

This is the first of 3 follow up discussions from that initial post.

We’ll explore the question “Are you ok switching between a number of apps and tools or do you really want to use just one or two organizing options?” – and arm you with some helpful insights to explore based on your answers.

First, in reality some of you may not have any options.  If your company wants you to use a suite of ‘productivity’ tools you can either develop coping strategies (see below) or find a new employer (insert sad face emoji here).

Second, you may actually be a supertasker (test for yourself), capable of simultaneously handling more than one task well.  Without even taking a test I know I’m not part of that 2% of the population!

Third, the original question focused on technology that can help you get organized. Let’s turn our attention (see what I did there?) to that topic specifically.

Overall, organizing tools fall into 2 broad categories:

1)  Specific task related (think Concur)
– Great for you if you have to break out information that is topically highly structured
– Works well inside of large corporations that can invest in both onboarding and maintenance
– Covers any number of tasks with a lot of configuration options – and related complexity
– Might be industry-focused (e.g.: Procore) or process focused (e.g.: Salesforce)

2)  General organization tools for use within a single company (like MS Office or G Suite)
– Provides a broad array of tools that are both process and company specific
– Offers corporations the ability to provide a single-source tool for all users and all tasks
– Often needs a lot of up-front installation support and add-ons to satisfy user needs
– Helps within a company but excludes inter-company participant

you are OK using multiple tools to organize your work, there are plenty to choose from based on your specific needs.  Highly specific tasks?  Check out category 1 tools.  General needs?  Check out category 2 apps.  In either case, like shopping for a car, if you know what you want before you buy you’ll generally do much better.

Live by the motto that “less is more”?  Winnow down your apps and find some that do just what you need and no more.  Many will interconnect to allow for a seamless exchange of information, reducing the amount of time you spend in different tools.  Check with your IT Team (or outsourced provider) to see what options are available.  We think we’re doing a great job with Gravatate, especially for professionals that collaborate across company domains, but check for yourself and compare.

If you’d like some general helpful hints for taming the multi-tasking monster in us all, try these from the Harvard Business Review:

  • Tame the Frenzy: basically, quiet the surrounding noise, and practice some intentional meditation or positive thinking and try a little humor;
  • Apply the Brakes: remove as many distractions as possible and allow yourself the time and space to focus on each task; and
  • Shift Sets: before you start to focus on a new task schedule a short, physical break like a walk or a stretch.

And a bonus tip from me – Make a To Do list:
– Check it each morning and at the end of each day
– Know each task’s importance in case you need to reset your work load
– Create good estimates for how long each item takes to complete
– Do hopscotch around the list but don’t mark off percent completion (unless that’s part of the task)

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