Readers of this blog will be aware of shiny new thing syndrome (SNTS). I have suffered with it for years.
In the desire to make things easier, I am constantly drawn to new workflows, services and applications. This can be very productive and efficient. I am delighted now to be doing most of my writing in plain text, in IA Writer. This allows me to preserve all of my scribbling in a free, lightweight and portable format, with no lock-in to a particular application or format. Changing has also saved me a chunky subscription to Ulysses.
I want to streamline my collaboration. I have a lot going on, and work seems spread across an enormous amount of channels.
At Neros, we have Dropbox, Slack, E-mail, WhatsApp, Signal, Facetime, & I-message. For my podcasts, I use Apple Notes, Slack, Google Docs, G-Drive, Dropbox, Ferrite, Garageband, and Signal. Lime exists in a mix of corporate systems, so all the Microsoft things with a healthy dollop of Zoom. Then of course, there’s personal productivity…
What I need is, one place, to borrow a tag line, where work happens.
Basecamp was going to be it. Clare @neros was onboard, and I started creating projects. This was it, a place where tasks were agreed, statuses updated and documents kept. I knew where everything was. Then - Basecamp took up management by public diktat, causing a furore on social media and a huge team turnover. Worst of all, it highlighted how the mercurial C-suite at Basecamp could potentially turn off functionality because it regarded the company as its personal plaything.
Never mind. We’ll try Asana. ClickUp. Wrike.
And we did.
They’re fine. I’d go as far as to say, each has some excellent qualities.
Amanda wrote “what fresh hell is (insert service name here)?” Scrib asked “where can I find the notes on x?” Clare reverted to WhatsApp. Or signal. Or was it iMessage?
Justin and I talked about the search on Stationery Adjacent. Talking away, I gradually distilled the problem down to its essence. SNTS. Every single application and service listed above was, to a greater or lesser extent, a shiny new thing. Layer upon layer of SNTS left everyone using the tools that they like and ignoring those that they don’t. Adding a new SNTS wasn’t helping in the reduction of SNTS.
To make a new tool work, I had to find the right one, become expert in it, and then convince everyone else to use it too. In effect, we all needed to agree to abandon all previous SNT for this new and exciting SNT.
“But I’m in lots of Slacks.” “All my friends use What’s App.” “So I can’t send you e-mail now?” “I don’t want to download new app with yet another company, thank you very much.”
The answer is a reboot. Everyone I collaborate with uses Slack in some way, shape or form - even if its only to work with me. Likewise, Dropbox. Rather than replace these, I’m leaning into them. Instilling some discipline into how they’re used, communicating clearly how they can help us collaborate more effectively.
Turns out, I already have the shiny new thing.