We all know why instant messaging is a great thing. It's fast, it allows you to multi-task, and it lets you stay in contact with people that have otherwise dropped out of your circle. But were you aware that it can be hard on your business?
The truth of the matter is that it is easy to let instant messaging get out of control, to the point where it is actually hurting your business and your chances of success. If you are in business for yourself or even if you are just trying to get a lot of work done, you will want to make sure chatting on messenger systems such as Yahoo, MSN, Twitter, and other programs doesn't hold you back. It can easily happen before it’s even realized and below you’ll find just a few of the reasons why.
First and foremost, instant messaging software is disruptive and distracting. You will find that instant messaging can be problematic when a situation like the following occurs. Imagine yourself working on an important project that is almost complete. You’ve been working hard on it for a few hours and only a few more minutes and it will be finished and all your hard work will soon pay off. Suddenly, a flashing square appears on top of the work you’re doing. It’s an instant message from a friend or family member. What do you think happens in those few seconds after the box pops up?
First, you are immediately distracted from your project due to the fact that something has just popped itself on top of your work. Secondly, you are a human and your curious nature kicks in. Ok, seems simple enough to just minimize the box and keep working right? Unfortunately it’s not that easy.
Even if you choose to ignore the message, you still have to minimize or completely close the window and you’ve just broken your concentration on the task you were working on prior to the interruption. Who’s to say the person sending the message won’t type another message and press that send button, creating either an annoying blink on the bottom of your computer screen or causing another box to pop up once you’ve closed the first. You now must regain focus on your work in order to continue your previous stride.
There is a good chance that you are familiar with the idea of being in the state of mind to work. You will find that you get into a certain mindset and your work will come a great deal more easily and a great deal faster, and that this state of mind is often instrumental in making sure that your work gets done on time. Receiving an instant message, particularly one from a friend or someone who is not related to your work, can spell disaster for this state of mind. Yes, there are a lucky few who can slip right back into the working frame of mind, but most of us can't!
Even if the instant message is related to business, it might not be a great thing. It might be a colleague who needs help on something, or it might be something that you are being asked just because you are online and can provide an immediate answer.
Don't let instant messaging ruin your productivity; understand the effect it has on your performance and make sure that you don't let the flashing boxes control you. You will find that there is a lot to be said for occasionally being inaccessible except through means that take a little bit of effort by those trying to reach you, like the phone or through e-mail.