Hi there:

During the Calendar management cast, you touched briefly on a CIO and her direction to her directs, that IM was the best way to contact her, to which you observed each of you had simultaneous heart attachs to.

I work for a very large International technology company, with over 300,000 employees world wide.  Our corporate culture, with respect to IM, is "if you are in, you are on".

I'd be curious as to any observerations/recommendations you might have to the constant IM "pinging" I receive throughout the day.

An obvious answer would be to parallel the windows of time set aside for e-mail.  However, IM time then eats into e-mail time.

I could also set the IM to "do not disturb", which blocks people from pinging me.



bug_girl's picture

I simply could not work that way. I actually make myself log out of email when I'm working on a specific task, and if there was a way to turn off my phone, I'd do that too. 

The research is clear--multitasking results in lower performance, and more stress. 

If you have to be visible online, I'd schedule a time on your calendar (2-3pm say) that you are on and willing to receive questions, and save up some low-level tasks to work on that you can be distracted from.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

It's a fair question.  I have been working on a long answer to it and other attention attenuation issues, but for now, here's the short version:

Because of the culture, leave IM on.  Set up your prefernces so that the pings don't show up, or are muted and/or invisible to you.

Check them perhaps once an hour at MOST, and then only BRIEFLY.

I promise you two things: your big company's senior executives are NOT checking, let alone ANSWERING , every ping.  And most of the rest of the firm isn't EITHER, in all the meetings they attend, or when they are away from their desks, or with a client, or with their BOSS.

No one has a story for me of someone not being immediately available by IM and being punished.  If you're really needed, they'll email you (kinda funny) or call you, or ring your cell.

Guard your attention.


sailaboat's picture

I have removed all notifications from my IM.

I'll work with the new settings, and see if my job becomes in jeopardy (grin).  My guess is that it won't at all.



Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Keep us posted, and stay frosty!


terrih's picture

BugGirl, I'm sure your phone must have an off button... ;-)

bug_girl's picture

Unfortunately, it is the old-fashioned jack in the wall type phone--and I can't get the jack out. Believe me, if I could, I would!

My Cell is usually off, except for when I'm traveling or at lunch.

I am really easily distracte....SHINY!

stephenbooth_uk's picture


Even old style land line phones usually have a ringer off switch (often labelled Ringer or Privacy) or a ringer volume slide that will silence the ringer if it's all the way down to the bottom.

Failing that if you have an empty file cabinet drawer and a couple of thick cushions...  :-)


kima's picture
Training Badge


One other thought is to take advantage of the status settings available to you.  I also work for a large company and yup - if you're in, you are expected to show up in our IM tool.   We're geographically dispersed and don't have the ability to look across the aisle to see if someone if free.  But, within our group, we've discussed our "protocol" for dealing with this:

Available - interrupt me if needed, available to chat

In a meeting - please don't interrupt unless it is urgent

Busy - please don't interrupt unless it is urgent

And we can also post a little note next to our name - like "working, please only ping me in emergencies"

Anyway, you get the idea.  It helps us get past the "Do Not Disturb" status which just seems so unfriendly.  The key is to have a converstation about the various settings and what they mean. 


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

I like what Kima has suggested - more communication is better.

And there's a related concept worth repeating.

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, a very busy doctor, whom I was calling just to say hey and coordinate a golf outing.

He answered by saying, "you interrupted me" which I responded:

"No I didn't, I made your phone ring.  You allowed yourself to be interrupted when you picked up the phone."

The point is, this is all about attention management.  If you don't answer pings, regardless of your status, you're not going to 'get' interrupted.

No one 'GETS' interrupted.  We CHOOSE to change our focus.

As Bug Girl would say... SHINY!


jrumple's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I agree with Kima. Establish some group norms of behavior around the various status settings. My group also uses a "Can you Meet?" salutation when starting an IM conversation. In Office Communicator type in (!!) for the "Can You Meet?" Emoticon. This is like knocking on the door or ringing the phone of the other person. it gives them the opportunity to decide if they will be interrupted by you. The approached person can completely ignore the IM or use (Y) for yes and (N) for no.

Another thing that has helped is when I'm using the recommendations from the Attention Management - Distractions cast, and I'm putting tasks on my calendar, my IM status shows me Busy or In a Meeting. While it doesn't prevent people trying to interrupt me, they are discouraged from it. Most people will send me an e-mail instead of an IM when I'm shown to be busy. I have a plan for managing my e-mails, so even in a "if you're in, you're on" culture, I'm not approached as often. When I see the e-mail I can set up a meeting with the individual and now we have time set aside on both our calendars for a conversation about the issue.