Strive For Simplicity In Tools

GMail has come out with a new feature that lets you add a calendar event from your email in a most convenient way. In any email that has a date or time there is a light underline bar that you can click. It will pop up a convenient dialog to add an entry to your calendar.  There is no need to leave your email and the quick popup entry allows simple edits. You can continue your work in the email.

This seemingly simple function is an example of huge advantages for business people who work on many tasks. It hits three important points, dead simple use, non-intrusive(Why people criticize an iPhone popup message over the screen when a text message comes in) and it doesn’t force you off your task.

distractThis is not as important to an individual that uses a few things on their phone and computer in a recreational way. It touches on why you as an owner/manager are different from most employees. You do many more things that hold and promote your business. They are small, varied and many in number so the multiplier effect has a tremendous impact. If you spend 5 secs less on a task and you are doing hundreds of tasks in a day than the time savings are helpful. To me what is more helpful is the ability to keep my focus on the tasks that I want. As you are constantly shifting gaze, fingers and attention to peripheral things your ability to refocus the brain dramatically reduces what you get done. In a later post I’ll share some research on how damaging it is to your productivity.

I was speaking to a colleague on this point earlier today. In that discussion we were discussing having a website for broad company usage training information. Something using a wiki was suggested and my point was the ease of use of editing and creating new content is crucial to getting more and better information. I shared an old-person story from the 1980s when the first word-processors arrived on the scene. They required dense text with no visible formatting and embedded codes (on a TRS 80). You had to print it out to see how it looked then edit the dense text.

This idea is why Smartphone apps are taking off. They provide a service that reduces the complexity and attention required to get information you want. The idea of Google Now extends that to find and give you information you need without requiring you to dig around or intrude in whatever you are doing.

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