Why Fragmented Productivity Tools are Destroying Your Productivity
Productivity is more than just using the right tools. It’s about how well you apply your knowledge to make decisions, cultivate relationships, and build a reputation. But the tools you use can still have an impact on every single aspect of your work. And when those tools are fragmented, when there are too many pieces of disconnected software running disconnected workflows and sharing disparate information, your productivity can be decimated.
Researchers at Cornell University’s Ellis Idea Lab found that workers were wasting 59 minutes a day trying to find information hidden across multiple fragmented apps and tools.
How to avoid the problem
For most businesses, the fragmentation will begin when their existing tools reach a limit, when new projects challenge their capabilities, or when new staff members bring in their favourite apps. Suddenly you have several members of the marketing team working in Slack, while the HR team are still Whatsapping each other. There are Google Docs, Word Docs, Confluence Docks, Trello Boards, Jira Boards, Notion Boards and who knows what else?
The impact is huge. It damages performance, and it distances team members from each other. RescueTime found that context switching is where this fragmentation happens the most.
“Context switching, task switching, multitasking… whatever you want to call these behaviours, they’re incredibly hard on your already-taxed brain. And while the immediate costs might feel small, the compounding impact on your focus is staggering.
According to psychologist Gerald Weinberg, each extra task or ‘context’ you switch between eats up 20–80% of your overall productivity.”
The best way to avoid fragmentation is to develop digital literacy, a set of skills that gives you the flexibility and insight to make decisions about what tools are right for which tasks.
When employees feel empowered with their own knowledge and trust each other enough to share information, there will be fewer barriers in your workflow. And when those individuals also use up-to-date versions of the tools they need, rather than using one version that may not be compatible with others on your team or in your company, you’ll be able to work together more efficiently.
But it’s also important to start thinking clearly about how you choose tools.
There are unified, cohesive platforms that can replace a bunch of broken and disconnected tools by bringing everything together. That’s been one of the drivers behind developing Hearsay; we’ve taken the fragmentation of customer research systems and replaced them with one unified platform that can organise, manage and analyse customer conversations in one place.
You can take that same approach in your own company – for example, you can implement a single data system for all information (i.e., including information in spreadsheets) and Utilize a single source of information to develop business solutions. Whether that’s AirTable, Google Sheets or something else, look for a platform that can offer an end-to-end system.
Provide ongoing support to integrate information from all sources and to ensure that it’s accurate and up-to-date. Create a strategy and budget for data migration. Identify the business processes that should be updated to a more current version of data and include workflows to make this transition.
Consider which processes you want to implement before going all-in. Is your company’s sales team using customer relationship management to maintain customer profiles? If so, make sure CRM provides a built-in feature that will give salespeople access to an accurate and up-to-date customer profile. Then, consider how you will collect and analyze your company’s data. Do you need to automate the collection and distribution of the information? Are there times when other employees will need access to data from other systems?
Productivity tools can make or break your work. When you have a fragmented workflow, with different software for different tasks and data being stored in disparate places, it becomes more difficult to be productive. You need to know what each tool does and how it interacts with the others before you can decide which one is best for a particular task.