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Blog // Simplicity
October 7, 2021

This Week I Quit Pinterest (Again)

Pinterest is a popular platform for curating collections of images. I found myself using it again last year. And the process of quitting Pinterest, for a second time, taught me some lessons about collaboration.

Yes, I’d already quit Pinterest. I didn’t forget the long article I wrote about it in 2016. But I rejoined Pinterest last year. Only to quit again. Let me explain.

My plans for 2020 originally involved a soft refresh of my “brand”. I wanted to update parts of this site, some of the material I use for mailing and communication, and, in particular, my logo.

I’ve had that logo since 2015. It’s served me well online, on business cards, and alongside things I’ve sold over the years. But it feels like the right time for something simpler, a little less “rock ’n’ roll”.

Pinterest And The App Trap

The process always begins with a conversation. The designer wants to know about you, your work, the impression you want to create. They want to see some of the work that inspires you, maybe designs that have caught your eye, or the way people you admire present their work. And they also want to share suggestions with you, to gauge what resonates or doesn’t appeal.

And there the problems start.

You could put it all into email. But email trails gets messy really quickly. Who said what and which ideas were approved or rejected requires a new investigation with every email. This is a terrible way to run a creative project.

The designer suggested using Pinterest. That made sense. Pinterest makes it easy to create collections of pretty well anything that’s online. I tentatively signed up again.

Unfortunately, 2020 happened and the project stalled. I’m currently doing a cut-down version, with just the essential updates to this site. The larger project will start again next year, after I’ve moved.

That left Pinterest – which I quit, again, this week.

Finding App Clarity

Sometimes it feels like the biggest hurdle in any collaboration is agreeing which apps to use. We all have our preferences, and reaching consensus on the best tools and services for a project can take time.

But it matters.

Not all tools are equal. More importantly, not all tools are equal in our hands. Bringing our best to a collaboration involves being able to use the tools well.

For example, my writing app of choice is Scrivener. I can write with Word, but it’s a much slower process. And much more frustrating. I’m significantly less productive. Not a little bit. A lot.

Multiply these inefficiencies over several apps and collaborations, and you soon feel like you’re wasting a lot of effort. It’s better to have a clear sense of what tools you can and can’t use with maybe a little flexibility to accommodate people, but not so much generosity that you make it too hard to be your best.

Building A Coherent Ecosystem

I once had a client who loved to communicate by any means available. Email, phone, video call, text message, direct messages on social media – even, on a few occasions, handwritten notes delivered to my home. We also had meetings where he never took notes. As you can guess, he was prone to making last-minute changes to things that had already been agreed.

I loved the project. But it was supposed to take only about 10–20% of my time. The barrage of random communication was overwhelming. Trying to reconstruct the communication trail when something went wrong was crazy-making.

Establishing a shared way of working is a better approach. You need a coherent ecosystem for communication. Think of it as dos and don’ts. We do use Notion for project updates and not social media dms. Or we keep the latest version of project documents in a shared dropbox folder and not embedded in various emails.

Yes, This About More Than Pinterest

Of course, we aren’t really talking about Pinterest or social media so much as talking about setting boundaries. By accepting the use of Pinterest, I crossed one of my own boundaries. I have a good ecosystem for that in Abode and Behance and the suite of Cloud apps. That’s my working world for all sorts of design projects.

It’s up to me as a client to set those boundaries and be clear about the apps I use and the ecosystem I work within.

As for Pinterest, I have no negative things to say about the platform. It works great for some people, and it’s fun to use. But it’s not for me, for the work I do, or the way I like to work.

This Week I Quit is an occasional series about using minimalism and simplicity to foster creativity, productivity, and well-being. The series originally ran from 2016 to 2019, and you can read a summary of that series here. You can find an archive of all This Week I Quit articles here. You can also follow the hashtag #ThisWeekIQuit on Twitter.

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