December 14, 2016

Selecting New Office Technology? 5 Reasons Simple is Better

BY Caitlin Delohery IN CRM Software, General, Mindfulness, Productivity 0 Comment

The world is a complex place. Think about just one aspect. Like how many steps it takes to make a really good BLT, from farm to table. Or the innovation and evolution required to make the driverless car a thing.

In the face of all this complexity, we’re here to talk about the things you can make a little simpler. And how the beauty and ease of that simplicity is a game-changer for your small business.

Here are 5 reasons simple office tech is better, with some recommendations for some great simple tools.

1. It’s easier to learn

Think of all your kitchen gadgets. Your blender, your crockpot, your toaster. Which ones are in regular rotation and which ones sit in the back of that hard-to-reach cupboard, collecting dust?

Chances are, the ones that are taking up coveted counter real estate are the ones that were a piece of cake to learn to use. The tools that you didn’t even need to glance at the manual to get up and running.

And, of those necessary evils that don’t pass this simplicity test — like the built-in microwave that seems to have PhD-level settings — even if you’re using them, I bet you aren’t using all of their functions.

Onboarding a new piece of software isn’t usually on anyone’s top ten list of favorite things to do in the office. But how well your team learns a new tool impacts how likely they are to use it.

The simpler a tool is, the easier it is to learn. Not only will it get you up and running more quickly, easy learning encourages use and helps you really take advantage of all the kickass features.

karmaCRM is pretty freaking easy to learn to use. “Unlike other solutions I tried, karmaCRM was extremely easy to use,” said karmaCRM customer Jess Todtfeld, Founder & President of Success in Media. “I figured it out in an hour and had the whole system set up on the first day.”

2. It’s easier to use

Think of the tools you reach for the most during any DIY project or quick fix at home. The most common tools also happen to be the simplest. In fact, many — like hammers, screwdrivers, scissors — are all literally simple machines.

After learning a tool, your team should be amped to use it.

You want to find the hammer and scissors of office tech — the tools your team can use for a wide variety of jobs, the tools that will fit seamlessly into their workflow and enhance it.

And you want to know the single biggest factor contributing to whether or not users end up actually adopting a piece of software?

Were you guessing: how pretty the interface is?

Or: how much management requires they use it?

Or maybe: how many bells and whistles it has?

Naw, the single, biggest factor in determining whether or not folks use a piece of software is how easy it is to use.

And simplicity is a hallmark of usability.

Wunderlist is a super popular to-do list tool that’s simple and easy (and fun!) to use. The streamlined, good-looking interface makes task management very straightforward. And the new enterprise-level features allow you to use the app as a team for more large-scale project management. It’s a breeze to use but it can go far in helping you make sure everything gets done.

3. It protects productivity

It’s tempting to think that a feature-jammed new toy will revolutionize your business and make you off-the-charts productive. But, so often, a product with too many features gets in the way of your work. Worse, these complex tools can make you feel extremely busy even when you aren’t moving the ball forward. They can create the illusion of productivity while having very little yield.

Part of the advantage of simple tools is that they help you do something better while staying out of your way.

RescueTime literally saves you time. It keeps track of everything you do on your computer or phone so that you can always know where your time is spent. It helps you suss out areas where you may be inefficient (how much time do you actually spend on Pinterest?) in the most straightforward, unobtrusive way imaginable. It never asks for prompts and doesn’t require much input from you. It just sits in the background, giving you insights into your workflow.

4. It’s satisfying

Have you heard of the KonMari method? It’s a decluttering and simplifying philosophy invented by Marie Kondo, author of the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book that has exploded in popularity in the past couple of years, selling over 5 million copies worldwide.

The KonMari method asks you to look at every object in your home and ask yourself: does this bring me joy? And if it doesn’t, out it goes.

There are two things we can learn from Kondo and her method. One, people are thirsty for simplicity. And two, simplicity is found by stripping away what’s unessential. And what remains is that which has the potential to bring us satisfaction.

Picking the most simple tools won’t just boost user adoption and productivity. These tools are also much more likely to be satisfying or pleasurable to use.

There’s satisfaction in the simple, well-made thing doing a task perfectly.

Apple is built on making simple tools. Part of why the iPhone is so popular is that it’s pleasurable to use. It’s a satisfying tool because it is simple. “[Apple’s] guiding tenet was simplicity,” says Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs’ biographer. “Not merely the shallow simplicity that comes from an uncluttered look and feel and surface of a product, but the deep simplicity that comes from knowing the essence of every product, the complexities of its engineering and the function of every component.”

5. It’s mad Zen

There’s a big push for more mindfulness in business. In Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss culled wisdom from hundreds of interviews with powerful leaders, athletes, and artists and found that the #1 habit, recommended by over 80% of these titans, was a mindfulness practice.

This is a reaction, in part, to the complexity of our world in this Age of Distraction. In the face of constant pings and rings, messages and requests, visual and mental stimulation, we are reaching for mindfulness to help us think again.

Mindfulness is a simple practice that’s encouraged by simplicity. In fact, Apple’s devotion to simplicity was born out of Steve Job’s practice of Buddhism.

The more mental and procedural clutter you can clear away, the more space you have to be present, to be innovative, and to focus on what’s important.

In the same way, simple tools leave space for what matters.

Evernote is a simple but powerful solution to workflow management that will help you remain focused on what’s important. Its tagline is “Capture what’s on your mind” and it does just that — it’s a catch-all repository for notes, websites, clips, reports, images, and more. It’s great for creating a personal internet of sorts — a collection of all the information you need. It does this without interrupting your workflow, allowing you to clear your mental clutter by saving nearly anything for later.

Looking for other ways to improve your workflow? Check out our blog on working softer, not harder.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

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