Software like Adium and Pidgeon are so darn handy. They let you hook up your Google Chat, Yahoo! IM, AIM, MSN and other instant messengers along with access to tons of IRC channels, too. Man, what a great invention. Instant access to everybody I've ever exchanged email with (thanks gchat) all at the click of a button. What could be better?
Whoops, I meant, what could be worse??
Up until a couple weeks ago, my normal practice would be to get up in the morning, sit down at the computer, open my email and open Adium. It was basically like shouting “Hello World! I'm awake and ready to answer all your questions!” The flood of emails is bad, but the flood of IMs are worse. Mostly because my (self diagnosed) OCD wouldn't let me just ignore 'em. I felt like I had to answer every single one. I basically felt like this:
“So why not just shut off IM?”, you say. Simple answer, I have a team I work with and it's nice to be available to them. Unfortunately that meant being available to roughly 1400 other contacts at the same time. I was in serious need of a solution. And as usually happens, one presented itself at WordCamp.
I was sitting in the back of the room with Dre and looking over his shoulder as he was doing some work. Up popped a messenger window and he started typing to a coworker. I asked, “What IM program is that?”
“Hipchat, it's awesome”, he said.
He explained that it let him be in direct contact with his team, and just his team.
Holy crap, why had I never heard of this? I downloaded it immediately and sent invites to everybody on my team. I now had direct access to my developers, I could create rooms to talk about specific projects with sub-sets of the team, and it even let me receive notices on my phone if something came in while I wasn't at my desk. I was instantly in love.
The first week of not having the IM distraction was a bit weird. I was so used to the distraction, when it wasn't there, I sorta didn't know what to do. But, after a couple weeks, I'm really noticing a difference in my productivity during the day. It's not perfect, but it's a HELL of a lot better.
I still need to sort out a way to deal with emails, but, for Instant Messenger, Hipchat is definitely the answer.
Photo credit:4nitsirk, on Flickr