Over at WebWorkerDaily there is a post on how instant messaging can make you more productive. After reading the post and contemplating it a bit…I agree. For me, IM productivity boils down to self discipline.
After thinking about the post for a while I discovered that I unknowingly have a few silent rules for IM engagement (when I engage), and IM pet peeves (when others engage and don’t follow my silent rules):
When to IM
- When the question I’m asking can be answered in 2 sentence or 2 responses.
- When a question is too technical via phone and could be better worded through a pre-thought out IM initiation.
- When technical information can be utilized by the IM client (e.g. sending a link versus trying to spell it out over the phone).
- When you want to document the conversation for legal purposes or future reference (if the IM client logs conversations).
- When the recipient is not in the building and you need to share your desktop with them because a visual is better than a long winded, confusing description (if the IM client allows desktop sharing)
When not to IM
- When the IM subject is controversial or emotionally charged (in a bad way). Obfuscation of the text can only make things worse.
- When what you are going to write would get you in trouble when viewed by others (e.g. somebody is standing over the recipients shoulder or IT logging it).
- When the person sits within 20 feet of you (duh?).
A couple Instant Messaging Techniques
- Do an initial IM to remove the element of surprise for a complicated question or issue, give the receiver 30 seconds to mull it over. Follow up with a phone call.
- Send technical information (Web link) and call immediately.
What are your Rules of IM Engagement or techniques?