Drowning in Digital Tools

If you’re like me you’re probably often on the lookout for new tools to streamline your workday. Sometimes this search uncovers some incredible ways to save time or make your life easier in some way. However, sometimes the tools themselves can become a hindrance to your workflow, creating more chaos and sucking time away from your workday. So how do you know for sure if a tool will be helpful before it’s too late? Here are a few tips.

If It’s Not Helping, It’s Hurting

One of the most difficult things to do when trying a new tool is to know whether the tool is working for you, or whether you’re working for the tool.

Remember, the point of these tools is to make your life easier.

Very simply, if it's not saving you time, money or increasing your work output in some way, then it is doing the opposite.
  • Keep track of how much time it takes you to finish tasks with the tool as opposed to without.
  • Be honest with yourself as you test the tool. Is it worth the effort?
  • Ask yourself if there are still easier or faster ways to accomplish your tasks.
  • Use, don’t abuse. There are plenty of things you can (and should) still do without using a tool.

When Is Enough Enough?

How much time should you invest into a tool to know whether it is actually going to be helpful? Unfortunately, there is no one answer. Depending on the tool and the industry you are working in, this may be as little as a few days, or as much as a couple months.

One good rule of thumb that I have come to adopt is to trust the “free trial” period. Most of these tools offer a set amount of time for the user to get to know the tool. The aim of the free trial period is get you hooked. So, it would make sense that the creators would make the period just long enough for you to get used to the tool and its features, but not so long that you get all your work done within that time frame. So, trust the free trial period. If you aren’t hooked by the time it’s over, you probably don’t need the tool.

One other rule I have begun to live by is the “2 week rule.” If 2 weeks passes and I have not used the tool, it’s time to pitch it. However, in all honesty, this rule is a bit more of a gray area. If it is something I only need to use once a month or so, but still saves me time and effort of course I hang on to it. Just use common sense.

“New” Ain’t Always Better

New, New, New! It’s one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook. As organizations grow, managers will often scramble to find new ways to manage new information, new employees and new workflows. But just because there is a new fancy tool out there that claims to do the job better doesn’t necessarily mean it will be better for you and your company. Always approach the use of a new tool with your end goal in mind.

Don’t Fight the Crowd

There is a good chance that you won’t be the only person at your company using these tools. Using a different tool than a coworker can cause more problems than solutions. Here are a few ways to solve these issues.

  • Be vocal. Share your experiences of new tools with coworkers.
  • Ask around! Someone else may have already found a great tool to accomplish the tasks at hand.
  • Do your best not to use conflicting tools internally.

This of course does not mean you should never try to improve your internal processes. However, you should always know when that is your goal. Test, analyze and if necessary make the needed changes as a group, not as an individual.

And the Winner is…

Of course I couldn’t possibly leave you here hanging without sharing one of my favorite new tools: VIDYARD!

It is no secret that video is one of the most important aspects in a well-rounded, online marketing campaign. Vidyard, among numerous other things, helps you compile all your videos in one place and offers incredible insight into the analytics of your viewers.

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