A new approach to the always-on, always-connected worklife

Dead AdiumSo I’ve decided that I’ve gotta get my work-habit induced ADD under control. While I seem to be most in the zone when I’m doing 8,000 things at once, being able to focus on a few chunked at once will probably lead me to great strides forward in my productivity.

To that end, I’m going to try something new. 37 Signals once gave the advice during the Getting Real portion of one of their Building of Basecamp workshops to “shut off IM”.

I’ve been reluctant to do so for a couple reasons (mostly baseless), but recently I decided ah, the heck with it. Asynchronous email will suffice for 98% of my person-to-person communication needs. For the other 2%, I ought to make myself available for exactly that portion of my day.

So starting today (and let’s see how long this lasts), I’m going to spend at most 2 hours a day available on IM, IRC and Skype. I’ll still be in the Flock team channel, but that’s it. I’m also going to try to cut down email access during the day as well and do most of it on my daily train commute.

So that’s that. If you don’t see me on IM much anymore, it’s not coz I’m dead (though if I’m MIA for more than three days, send a search party). Hopefully this will lead to a new era in productivity for yours truly. We’ll see.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

6 thoughts on “A new approach to the always-on, always-connected worklife”

  1. You’ll probably see a boost from that. Try turning off your email “bling” too and hide the “new mail” envelope. I read recently that IM and email make you more distracted than smoking pot!

  2. Heh, funny. After I found out that during the train travels from me to my GF (3 hour train ride, one way) I wrote the best ideas, modules and themes. And that on a noisy train, with two changes.

    That made me think, that internet/connectivity is actually holding back productivity. So I close my mail client, only to open it when I expect a mail, or feel like answering all the stuff in batch. Read my feeds only twice a da and leave IRC/IM running on my fourth virtual desktop (where I can grab it, if in need).

    It works! I get stuff finshed. I feel so much more productive. While I still have the same time for reading blogs, feeds, news and mail! (and coment blogs 🙂 )

  3. Exactly, you need everything switched off. I sometimes get the best coding done on a plane, or in a hotel room without an internet connection. Being connected is great for when your just working (answering emails, taking calls, etc), when your hacking up an idea you need total focus.

    A friend of mine, once told me a story about his fathers firm — they pulled out all the email, faxes, telephones from peoples desks. All communication went through the front-desk, apparently productivity went through the roof.

  4. Well, wasn’t it this blog who just wrote something about so SanFantastical it was that you did manage all those things without a problem, hm? :o))

    I think you might find that (even though you can handle it in general better than the rest) that less time is wasted. But of course the nagging feeling of you not “connected” can set in and you need to decide if you always want to give attention or learn to stay offline.

    Because it feels so much more boring, not to be connected … but it helps. 🙂

  5. Hey Nicole,

    Yeah, I agree. I mean, there’s a balance to be had — I don’t think I’ll be able to be offline to the world all day and everyday — that’s not the idea. Loneliness and alienanation would definitely set in!

    Rather than considering myself “disconnected”, I think of it in terms of using my time more effectively. I mean, if I were paying myself hourly (as I used to when I was a freelancer), how would I want me to be managing my time? Well, the easiest way to get back on top of things is to cut down on the number of demands on my attention. I’d like to be able to push through bigger tasks overly longer periods of time instead of being stuck to my usual approach of constantly switching back and forth between extinguishing minor brush fires!

    Anyway, this new approach seems already to have me blogging more… man, I wonder if blogging will simply replace my usual IMing. I’m so hopeless! Ha!

  6. Well, many people can read your blog posts but only so many can (and should) read your IM.

    So I am all for the blogging thing. Additionally, you talking about flock reminds me to try it out one day. 😉

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