11 Super Tips on Instant Message Productivity

Written by darshana on February 12, 2008 – 12:42 am -

For the past week I have been describing instant messaging and chat in an ongoing series specially carved to get the user familiar with everything.

One of the issues with almost all applications is how they seem to hinder your work as much as it seems to help. This is also applicable to IM, lot of people says that IM has helped them greatly in keeping touch with friends, co-workers and clients, especially providing the instantaneous communication not available via email but a lot more controllable than phone. Still many have found that in some ways most of the time they spend on chat is really not needed, they just get drawn in to chatting for long periods on some unimportant topic. Considering the type of environment on which we live today it is essential that we utilize our time correctly.

Personally I have been well aware of this wastage that occur with most of the communication and community development applications out there. Although my view for long time had been to totally keep away from such activity, I can console with those who need to use these in a daily basis. Recently it has dawn on me that both these sides are not correct. The best way to use IM is not to indulge in time wasting activities blaming the application for it or totally ignore theses applications. As with everything in life it is how you use it that decide is it for your betterment or for your downfall.

Here are a few tips that allows you to use instant messaging effectively in your lives.

1) It is very important to use the status messages effectively. One very common trend with people is they leave an “Available” status all day. This is obviously not good as no one has anyway of knowing you are busy. So if you are one of them at least use “Away” status when you are busy. This way people who have some respect for these issues will not disturb you. We can go one step further in using Away status, that is show different status depending on what you are doing, The away status messages can be like “very busy”,” lunch”, “meeting”,” project work”. This not only gives your buddy a feeling that you are indulged in the same sort of activity as he is and he will probably realize how he hates it when people disturb him at those times. Many people who have used status messages effectively declare that lot of people respect them, especially “very busy” status.

2) I know how important IM might be for some of you still it does not mean you have to IM all the time. Seriously you shouldn’t. One of the best tips is to set some definite time for IM. The time period you keep can vary from one hour to maybe four hours (anything more may not be good). What’s important is that you have a consistent time at when you are available. This can be like 9 am in morning till 10 am, or maybe two session’s one in morning and one at evening. Choose what ever you are comfortable with and let your buddies know about it. Notice how this actually work with first tip, if you let everyone IM you then sticking to a schedule will be almost impossible.

3) A habit that most people who have lot of interaction in their jobs do is allow anyone to IM them, and adding anyone they have slightest contact to the buddy list. This creates two problems, one is your spend IM most of the time with people who you really don’t need to be constant touch with, secondly anyone may IM you at anytime ,especially if you have contacts all around the world(like bloggers). The first step would be to limit the buddy list to friends and very close associates with whom you need daily conversation. Remove everyone else from the list. If anyone wants to contact you they always have email.

4) Even after you have build a buddy list with only your friends monitor your char sessions and see whom you really have a productive chat. From experience I know many people who just keep on chatting about everything under the sun. This is great if you have nothing else to do, but if all you chats with him turn out like this just remove him. You may feel guilty but sometimes we need to make tough decisions. You can always leave him a message saying you are doing this to concentrate more on your work.

5) Earlier post I discussed about different non compatible chat clients. It is a major reason for hassle of using chat. As different people use different IM and you have no compatibility, the person who needs to keep up with all this mat work on all different chat services, which is very stressful and trouble, not to mention the desktop clutter and confusion. There are two solutions to this. One is the use of multi protocol clients, at least this way you can keep up with everyone on one interface. Other is two use just one client. I know you might miss some friends, but overall it probably improve your productivity a lot.

6) How many of you use IM when actually it is either not the right media, or your conversation has outgrown IM. The first thing to realize is IM is not the only media around. We have email, telephone, video conferencing etc. and there are times when one is better that the other. IM is especially good where instantaneous interaction is needed, if otherwise use email. Even if you start your conversation in IM if you feel it has outgrown then move to some other media. For example, if chat you started with buddy now involves the whole office, move to group chat. If chat turns into a discussion that would be better if you could give it some thought, tell the person you’d like to think about it and send them an email latter. Finally don’t be afraid to shift things to phone to settle them more quickly.

7) You must have a purpose and clear idea of what you are going to chat about. Having a purpose assures that you only try chat when necessary and not all the time on trivial matters. Having a clear idea allows you to avoid small talk and focus on the specific action that needs to be satisfied.

8) Get to the point. This is extremely important for you to save time and also to represent yourself as someone with whom everyone is willing to chat. Although it may seem more polite to talk about the health of the other person or how weather is in their area, the best approach is to cut out the crap and get straight to the main point., say hi, but then get straight to the point … ask a question, state a proposal, ask a favor, etc. When someone else initiates the chat start with something along the line “What can I do for you today?” this prompts them to get to the point.

9) When you have had a chat with clear purpose, and achieved your objective by getting to the point you have almost completed a perfect chat. Still you can go off the track here by not ending the chat quickly. Most people find it relaxing to keep chatting even after accomplishing the objective. Don’t be like that and end it quickly by thanking the other person.

10) A problem of sticking to the above three methods is that others may view you as a person who only wants some need satisfied and not really a friend. You need to avoid that sort of beliefs if you want to have a long term productive relationship. Therefore always be friendly. Never forget greetings and politeness. Also use chat to thank a friend or congratulate him on his achievement (keep it short). These are simple gestures that assure others you are just busy not unfriendly.

11) Lot of people use chat for keeping in touch, a more productive use is to use it as quick idea generation tool or feedback tool. When you need an idea or some feedback on one of your ideas just bounce it of others by Iming them. This is a truly great way to get instantaneous ideas and feedback from lot of diverse people.

Tags: chat, Instant messaging, productivity
Posted in Im | 3 Comments »

Embedded Chat

Written by darshana on February 11, 2008 – 1:09 am -

The next level of chat would be to embed it in web sites. This is something we saw start out big about two years ago, with online community divided on the impact. Some were very excited and predicted the next big thing on user involvement in blogs while others questioned if it will really catch on considering that many blogs don’t have too many visitors online at one time. Another factor that supports the latter group is how willing people are to chat with stranger (not buddies) about a blog post. I felt mixed feelings about these applications when [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in Im | No Comments »

Web based Chat and Location Chat

Written by darshana on February 7, 2008 – 12:44 am -

Aha, something close to my heart. The movement of applications from desktop to web. It was probably inevitable that in the end the chat function also made its move to be a browser accessed service. Although it has yet to displace desktop clients, that day is probably not far away. The question is what are the advantages offered by such browser based services. Well they can be accessed from anyware there is internet without having that particular client installed. You only need your username in that service. this can be a big plus if you access internet from places [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in Im | No Comments »

Instant Messaging Interoperability

Written by darshana on February 5, 2008 – 1:39 am -

One of the most important features of modern instant messaging is the interoperability of different clients. Earlier all major players supported their own proprietary protocols and many users had to use several clients to keep in touch with everyone. But after year 2000 we saw the arrival of many newcomers with interoperability in mind. If we consider this scenario there is only two ways to provide this, either the client had to support all the protocols or the server had to support communication between different protocols. Jabber and example of the latter was one of the first on the [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in Im | 2 Comments »

Chat Chat Chat :An Introduction to Chat, IM, and IRC

Written by darshana on February 3, 2008 – 11:49 pm -

The fact is that there are lots of services that we use today, but never really pay that much attention. Most of the time this is okay as you do not need a very deep knowledge to use the basic features. Also the shear amount of application and services running around means that one person can’t keep track of everything. Still this should not mean that we have to be totally ignorant of the history or abilities of the application. You would be surprise at the cool facts and useful hacks that a careful investigation revel. Been myself guilty [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in Im | 1 Comment »

Facebook Users: Your Time Has Come

Written by darshana on February 2, 2008 – 3:15 am -


I was just going through a very interesting post on ReadWriteWeb on whether Facebook apps had peaked in popularity or not. I must say I agree with most of what is said and thought of writing my experience on those issues.

One point that came up was how Facebook users were getting tried of all the applications. I for one had always viewed most of the applications as worthless from the start and made it a point to stay clear of them.

From the first day I joined I got invited to become a vampire, zombie, or werewolf. I accepted those [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in Social media | 5 Comments »

How to Convert Text to Speech in the Web:vozMe

Written by darshana on January 29, 2008 – 3:35 am -

Today I am going to look at a little web application I stumbled across while surfing. It is called vozMe and it is a text to voice converter.

I have been for a long time looking for good text to voice converters as reading e-books etc… for long time is difficult for my eyes and I get frequent headaches. I have used a few downloadable software and they have worked at varying degree, but none has satisfied me entirely. One of the main things that disturb me most with this type of software is the lack of naturalness in the [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in cool stuf | 1 Comment »

QTRAX and RSS Mixer

Written by darshana on January 27, 2008 – 11:30 pm -

I have been looking around the web and have seen the announcement of the launch of a new music Free and legal p2p music download service called Qtrax was going live on Sunday midnight eastern. That’s about 8 hours from now. What really caught my eye was that this service is totally legal, and they have signed on all four major record labels (EMI, SonyBMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group).

So what’s great about this, it’s that at last the music record companies have realized the futile pursuit of trying to stop people from getting free songs. I [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

How to Manage Multiple Email Accounts:Part 1

Written by darshana on January 27, 2008 – 6:26 am -

I think by now you would know that I am into heavy experimenting on the web. This is the best way to learn about anything and I know that my knowledge of web is increasing due to this. Also more importantly only one guy will have to do all the hard work (that’s me) and all of you would get to know what works and what does not, thus simplifying your lives. Remember that knowledge is enhanced by collaboration(what is generally considered true is that if two people get together they have more knowledge than the addition of their [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in email | 1 Comment »

How to Send Fax Through Email

Written by darshana on January 27, 2008 – 12:40 am -

Well, this is a post that I had no plan in writing. But I put this up
because of an experience I had today.

My father told me to setup the fax service in the old computer so he can do
some official work. This computer had windows 98 but had worked pretty well for
a long time until recently when the hard disk failed and I had to replace it.
After reinstalling Windows 98 I had forgotten to setup the fax programme I used
earlier: The Symantec’s winfax pro. So considering it a routine installation I
inserted the CD and went along with the [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in fax | No Comments »

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