As a freelance writer, I’m well used (and I’m sure you are too) to collaborating with clients remotely via numerous tools and apps.
But in the current climate, I’m starting to feel as though I’m drowning in a sea of apps – and it’s getting me down.
We have tools for connecting, tools for sharing docs, tools for video conferencing, tools for instant messaging and tools for project managing.
From Skype and Zoom to Slack and back. To Basecamp, DropBox and more. They all have their place.
But it’s getting out of hand.
A recent US-based study revealed that 56% of employees use at least three different tools to collaborate. That same study reported that 60 per cent of workers felt they were wasting significant time in having to switch between different apps and tools.
This is called app fatigue. It was coined in 2017 to describe the stress and frustration felt by large numbers of employees when faced with working with multiple apps.
According to the surveys, many people said they’d rather do household chores – or deal with insurance companies than navigate between multiple workplace apps.
I am totally in agreement.
Today, the recent influx of tools and apps meant to improve productivity when working online is distracting us and stressing us out
Clients have their own pet collaboration tools
When new clients want to collaborate with you via their favourite app it means you have to learn how to use a new platform which is time-consuming.
And if you agree to communicate via an instant messaging app you could become the lucky recipient of endless pop-up queries.
These annoying little pings distract you from what you’re actually trying to do for a living – write.
Having to acknowledge instant messages means you lose momentum and focus. And what do all writers need? Momentum and focus.
So how do we counteract app fatigue – when working with new clients?
This probably won’t work – but worth a try?
Try to persuade clients to work via the well-known tools you already use e.g. Skype or Google Suite.
Didn’t think that would work. But, at the very least, make it clear from the outset that you don’t get involved in instant messaging – unless it’s considered a fee-accruing aspect of your time.
Instil into clients that you’re not constantly available.
If a client expects you to answer their queries immediately – whether it’s a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon – then they’re not respecting your time.
This happened to me recently on Skype where a client messaged me a question which popped up on my desktop. When I didn’t answer right away (because I was actually writing their piece) they immediately sent me a ‘???’.
As well as being rude, these kinds of ??? are a nuisance that can dramatically affect your workflow, productivity, mental balance and cash flow. In fact, alarm bells should ring to alert you to the fact that you might just want to ditch that client:)
Don’t get me wrong, technology is great – and in general, apps make working with others far easier. Plus they can really help if you’re working in different time zones. And to be fair, the prospect of working with clients that don’t embrace technology is equally off-putting.
However, I’m certain that app overload exists and that online business applications can actually get in the way of getting work done.
In an ideal world, we’d use one single platform for all our communications. But that ain’t gonna happen so we need to get used to managing multiple applications without letting it interfere with our productivity. We need to take charge and make apps work for us – not against us.