With the arrival of so many excellent instant communication tools, people have adopted them to a detrimental level, creating an unrealistic expectation that you are always available to respond to messages. This is simply a terrible approach when thinking about how to manage time. Constant chatter back and forth leaves you no solid blocks to actually get your work done. And that’s not to mention its contribution to burnout.
Before we give you our four secrets for slick time management, it’s important to answer a few key questions.
Despite it being such a buzzword at the moment, a lot of people understand it to be getting your head down and working hard, rather than smart. However, a good time management definition needs to include a targeted plan of how to use time to your team’s advantage.
There are so many time management tips out there, but sometimes taking a step back is as good as charging forward. That is where asynchronous thinking comes in.
Despite the big four-syllable word, pinpointing an asynchronous communication definition is fairly simple. In short, it is any form of communication that does not require an immediate response. Emails are the most obvious example, while instant messages and chat functions are normally understood to be “synchronous” forms of communication.
Let’s first make it clear that nobody is saying you should cancel all your synchronous communication. Urgent conversations and collaborative projects often need meetings, phone calls, and instant messaging from a practical point of view.
However, incorporating more asynchronous methods in your team has the double whammy of reducing pressure on your team and boosting productivity.
People need to have a separation between work and their day-to-day life to avoid burnout, so being more practical about personal and team time management means everybody wins. In this era of mobile connectivity, that separation has already been blurred to the point that big companies are giving their entire staff weeks off to properly get off the clock and focus on their mental health.
And it helps your company too. By dropping the futile need for constant communication, your team can use longer stretches of their day for focused work.
So with the advantages clear to see, read on to discover our four secrets for how asynchronous communication can improve your team’s time management.
Most workers have a horror story or two of receiving some “quick changes” that turn into a stream of confused consciousness blasted at them over the phone. This style of working is not just stressful, it’s almost impossible to avoid things falling through the cracks.
Instant messaging and phone calls certainly have their place, but every time you switch tasks to respond, you are distracting yourself. As a result, you find yourself never fully concentrating on your work because you are constantly checking your messages.
Rather than pinging instant messages back-and-forth, you can use collaborative docs so that everybody can make changes in their own time. Not only will you and your colleagues be able to focus on one task at a time, but you’ll avoid a heap of miscommunications.
It might sound like it's too good to be true, but you really don’t need to work a fixed nine to five.
To put it in perspective, you can’t expect people in Los Angeles to be working at the same time as their counterparts in Berlin. Sure, if you're in a customer service department with fixed hours, it’s a different story. But if you’re in a marketing department, do you really need to be working at the exact same time as everybody else?
This isn’t to say you can slack off and work a four-hour week with no consequences. Implement time tracking tools to make sure people are still putting in the hours, while allowing everybody to work at their own rhythm. This is especially important for parents and even allows you to get to the post office or the dentist without worrying about your boss breathing down your neck.
As mentioned previously, our addiction to instant messaging has come due to the influx of apps available to do it. We don’t use quick-fire communication because it’s good, but because it’s easy.
Teams that have already moved to a more asynchronous mindset have found that by slowing things down, the actual quality of their communication improves. Instead of impulsive responses that haven’t been fully thought through, you get well-planned emails with clear instructions and screenshots to explain. Soon you’ll find that an impulsive instant message makes no sense.
Similarly when you know you can’t spring a last-minute surprise task on someone at 5 p.m. on a Friday, you breed a culture of forward planning. This helps your team have a clearer idea of their tasks — reducing stress and boosting motivation.
One of the benefits (or perhaps the only benefit) of accelerated instant communication is that with the barrage of messages, people don’t forget about their tasks. With slower communication and more distant deadlines, it is easy for your team to let things slip — so make sure to get in first and stop that from happening.
By using Bitrix24’s project management tools, you can assign a detailed task with a deadline and send automatic reminders rather than pinging instant messages to your colleagues. This also serves as a record of every task, so when it comes to repeated jobs, you’re ready to go!
Let’s face it, nobody is winning in this game of constant connectivity. Workers feel stretched, they have difficulty focusing, and the rapid communication that does take place is inefficient and overwhelming. So when you’re thinking about how to improve time management, take into account that a more common-sense approach in how you communicate can be that silver bullet.
However, you can’t simply float the idea of asynchronous messaging and expect everybody to adopt it straight away. Changing your company culture by using better time management skills takes a lot of sustained work, but it is worth the effort. Modern managers, especially those in charge of remote teams, must resist the urge to focus on instant responses rather than results. Synchronous communication is becoming a serious issue for all kinds of teams, so by adopting our four secrets for better time management, you can break the cycle. So save your time, energy, and mental health and push for more asynchronous communication.