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Apps and social media: How to tackle digital distractions


Today’s digital world is a continuous source of distractions. Practitioners need to be diligent to avoid getting lost in the endless possibilities that technology promises to offer. ​Valme Claro looks at practitioners' biggest digital bugbears: apps and social media. 

21st Nov 2019
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App overload

In recent years, there has been a big increase in app development that is causing accountants to struggle with a wide range of choices available. The Xero, Sage and Zoho marketplaces are just some examples of the many apps ecosystems that cater for accountants.

Multiple apps promise to solve every problem a firm might encounter, with new apps being launched in the marketplace every week, accountants now face a different problem: choosing the best one for their practice. Keeping up with the myriad different options that promise to solve every problem practices face is not just an arduous task, but also a source of stress for accountants.

Others prefer not to venture into the sea of options available, concerned by the amount of time the process can take. “I look at the host of apps that claim to be the answer to every problem I have and I use out of the box Xero because I haven't got time or resource to do the research and implementation,” said AccountingWEB member Steve Darnell.

Once they’ve gone past the implementation phase, employees using an app for every task lose great amounts of time switching from one to another. When taken to the extreme, using dozens of different app and trying to stay on top of new tech is especially dangerous during busier periods such as the tax season, when losing focus can make you fall behind.

Social media

In the digital world, social media has become a primary source of communication between companies and their clients and prospects and also a source of distraction. 

Many practitioners feel the need to communicate effectively with multiple digital platforms. And whereas the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can help you build your brand, they can also be your main productivity killer. 

Georgia Duffee, managing director at Benedetto Accounts & Tax, explains how she uses social media dashboards to both streamline the process of posting content and to stay away from social networks during the day.

“When maintaining social media, I schedule my posts using a social media manager. We schedule a whole month's worth of social media in one go. This means we don't have to log into social media daily to update posts.”

Besides productivity, social media can even affect your mental health both by contributing to the always-on culture and by making you compare yourself and your practice to others.

“You can feel quite alone when you’re in your own practice,” said Eriona Bajrakurtaj, managing director of Majors Accounts. “You go through quite a few challenges and you think ‘is this just me?’ You see other people with social media now and with marketing, and everything seems amazing, you don’t get to see their bad days. But when you actually speak to them you realise you have the same challenges.”

Speaker and mental health coach Nick Elston shares a similar view on social media: “Social media is today’s keeping up with the Joneses,” he said. “You’re comparing your truth with someone else’s highlights. Mindless browsing can leave your happiness and sense of self in someone else’s control.”

What you can do

Although it doesn’t come without challenges, technology can be your practice’s ally. Sticking to healthy daily habits and being mindful of the use you make of technology will help you get more of your working day and become more productive. The following are some of the strategies that you can follow:

  • Conduct an ‘app assessment’: Choose the best apps and stick to them. Set a couple of weeks per year to re-assess and consider new options.
  • Use tech to fight tech (overload): Find the best project management tool for your practice e.g. Trello, Asana, to-do lists. Keep track of the apps you actually use and forget about the rest.
  • Try not to spend too much time on social media: Set aside a few hours of your week to plan posts and some minutes per day, either at the beginning or the end of the working day to interact with followers and other social media profiles. Avoid checking your social media profiles at different times of the day. 
  • Consider installing a notification blocker app on your phone. There are multiple options available for Android and iOS.
  • Set a time slot for checking your inbox, instead of having it open in the background and going back to it every few minutes.

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