Saturday, May 17, 2008

IM is Overrated

While I see how it can be beneficial in short-and-sweet doses - "Ready for lunch?" "Make it 200 pixels." "There's doughnuts in the break room." - for the most part, I think IM is overrated.

In the office, that is.

All the research points to the efficiency of multi-tasking being a myth. The worst thing for productivity. The bane of our lives in the 2000's.

And what does IM do? It facilitates constant interruption, the feeding of the never-satisfied, ravenously hungry, 21st-century, need-it-now, Google-dependent mind.

But it doesn't increase productivity, I'm convinced. At least for me.

Working on a complicated task, learning the ropes and putting names with faces during the first week at a new job can foster enough multi-tasking overload on their own.

Add in an onslaught of IM that just ratchets up the strain and breaks the concentration. Or at least, requires you start over at square one because the train of thought has been thoroughly derailed.

I speak from experience - but not at my new job.

At my new job, IM is verboten. Yes!

You'd think that would lead to email overload. And I'm sure at some times, it does.

But mostly, it leads to face-to-face conversations. Or a quick call to get an answer. Done and done.

And in the process, you get to know your colleagues just a little bit better.

Sure, there are times that I've missed it over the past few weeks. Technology can definitely help in many situations.

But largely? It's been a breath of fresh air not to be pecked-at by a constant stream of IMs from people I barely know, obscured by a digital veneer.

And so far? Really getting to know these people has been one of the most positive work experiences of my life.


Kitty said...

I haven't IMed people in offices before. Usually we email or talk to each other.

I do IM Mark, and it's quite a good thing. I get the IMs on my phone and I don't have to open an email, hit reply to make a new email or delete my emails later. I never used to IM so often until this job.

great that the experience is continuing to be a positive one. Enjoy!

Spandrel Studios said...

Hi, Kitty! How are you enjoying *your* new job?

It's funny, I used to text my husband a lot when I had a job that made me miserable... Hope that's not why you're IM'ing Mark so much...

That's smart, though - using the IM on your own phone rather than the company's system is definitely better for security and your own peace of mind!

Kitty said...

Hey Spandrel

The job is not the greatest at the moment, but I won't bother complaining about it. I suppose these growing pains will be going on for a while.

Fortunately, I have many other good things in my life.

Thanks for asking! :-)

Spandrel Studios said...

Hi, Kitty. Very sorry to hear about work being not great... but as you say, at least there are other good things going on to counter-balance it.

Hang in there - if it's growing pains, things are bound to change and hopefully improve!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Ah you've touched a nerve with this one. I'm drives me CRAZEEE!! I have clients who request I use it, but I find it so intrusive. How can I concentrate on work for them if they are pestering me via I'm ;-)

Spandrel Studios said...

Totally agree with you, Fish! Those million tiny interruptions each day just took me way off track and made it next to impossible to be as productive as I like to be.

And frankly, the lack of IM is the single biggest boon to my productivity at my new job! I'm utterly amazed at how much I get done in a single day. This new place is bigger on the face-to-face internal meetings, but there's a movement afoot to keep those shorter and more relevant than in the past.