Sunday, June 8, 2008

IM: Not So Intrusive After All?

A lot of GTD advocates and focus-junkies and their ilk advise people seeking order and productivity to limit interruptions from things like email, instant messaging, and the phone. But research pointed out in the New York Times suggests that IM might not be that much of a disruption.

The gist: more conversations, but they tend to be shorter and more to the point. So the count of interruptions may be high, but the volume of time you spend dealing with them is small. The problem for many folks, however, is not necessarily the time spent on the IM, but the time spent getting back to what you were doing before you were IMterrupted.

And another factor to consider: one person's IMterruption is another person's road block where she can no longer Get her Things Done without information and input.

Can you tell I'm kind of excited about coining the term "IMterruption" (and its corollary, "IMtrusion") to represent what happens to you when you get IMed as you're in the middle of doing something important. I just Googled it and there are only 166 references right now, and most of those are obvious mistypes of "interruption". Someone noted the term might mean losing text that you're working on when an IM window pops up, but since that doesn't really happen, I am going to say that's not really what it means.

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