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Using Too Many Productivity Apps May Actually Decrease Productivity!

By Michael Ertel posted 03-11-2021 17:13

Please enjoy this blog post authored by Mike Ertel, Practice Innovation & Knowledge Attorney, Paul Hastings, LLP.

“App Fatigue” is annoying, frustrating, and decreases productivity. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are productive just because you are using an app marketed as an efficiency booster.

The purpose of this blog entry is two-fold.  First, to get you thinking about whether the multiple apps you are using at your firm are actually helping your employees.  Second, to help foster empathy for your end users who may suffer from app fatigue, which may help you offer better (not necessarily more!) solutions. 

App Fatigue at Home

In your personal life, app fatigue may manifest itself when you scroll through your phone and are overwhelmed by the multitude of apps that serve the same or similar functions.  With our recent shift toward remote working, app fatigue has become even more prevalent because we are using multiple platforms (web, local computer, smartphone, tablet) in our daily routine, are interacting with more people (both internally and externally), and we are using many different apps for similar functions. 

App Fatigue at Work

A simple example would be the three videoconferences I had today.  My first was internal and we used Webex, my second was external using Zoom, and my third was external using Microsoft Teams.  Each call required me to reselect my camera, reselect my microphone, and each call had a different user interface for sharing content, adjusting participant views, etc.  By now, I am proficient in all these platforms, but it is still annoying.  In conjunction with other instances of multiple similar and redundant apps, the annoyance factor multiplies and ultimately leads to frustration and fatigue.     

The videoconferencing example is due to external forces outside of my firm that are not necessarily within my control.  But how about internally redundant apps?  Let’s get down to basics and look at communication.  Most firms have multiple ways to communicate internally.  This sounds great at first, but there may be a downside when you must now check emails, texts, Jabber, Slack, Microsoft Teams, What’s App, voicemail, and maybe more to make sure you don’t miss anything—especially considering people expect timely replies no matter how they contact you. 

One example of this downside is when you are unable to find an important document in your email inbox that someone sent you two weeks ago.  Why?  Because you forgot they sent it by Jabber!  Another example could be receiving an urgent request through Slack or Teams, but not checking those apps till several hours later.

Minimizing App Fatigue

I am sure you can think of other examples where apps intended to increase your productivity actually slow you down.  What can we do about this?

  • Be cognizant of the fact that more isn’t always better.
  • Continuously assess the mobile and desktop apps being used to get work done.
  • Train employees to use apps in a consistent manner.
  • Don’t shy away from time-tested techniques—like an actual phone call!
  • Toggling between apps or activities makes it difficult to stay on track and studies show they are a huge time waste—try to create workflows that limit frequent toggling.


Being cognizant of app fatigue can help minimize the illusion of productivity and put us on the road to genuine productivity.  Remember to assess critically your entire app portfolio and speak with your employees about how and when they use apps.  Most importantly, keeping it simple is often the best way to do things better.