In a Utopian world, my life would have been very simple (how I wish!)

  • I leave home
  • Reach office
  • Log into my System
  • Open my ToDo notepad file
  • Check the list of tasks for the day and add a few more depending on the requirements
  • Organize the tasks based on the importance and priority
  • Start working on the tasks
  • Complete the tasks on time
  • Go home

In reality, this is possible to an extent; but just that I’ve left out one very important parameter. Instant Messaging.

You know how some innovations in technology start out as a boon and end up being a nuisance at times? Well, this is one such innovation which people misuse, to the extent that I feel sometimes I would be better off without the IM. Most organisations use Internal Communicators for communicating easily with anyone within the organization. So in reality, this is what happens.

  • I start working on the tasks.
  • I get interrupted by someone asking for some important information.
  • I oblige, pause my work and then respond. (Since the status shows that you are available, you have to respond immediately)
  • I resume my task. When I’m on the verge of completing a task, some other person pings and asks for some extremely important information.
  • I respond and then resume.

And this is how it goes. I hope you get the drift.

You might ask me why I’m creating a fuss about the entire thing. Yes, I understand that the very purpose of IM is to enable quicker communication, for getting information for which you do not have to necessarily mail/call the person. (I’m not even getting started on the friends and work-friends who keep pinging all the time just for ‘catching up’. Use whatsapp for heaven’s sake!) But have we taken for granted that other people are always at our beck and call and have we started demanding more than requesting?

I’ve received many messages from people whom I don’t even know asking me for some information which they would want urgently. I understand the importance and oblige. What irritates me is how people take it for granted that I will always be there to “help” them (that’s how they word it) and ask me things which they can easily look up and find out. If only a few people have access to that information, I can understand. But when every person in the organization has access to all those files and they ask you not because they don’t know, but because they find it easier to ask you (after a point, you can easily find out if they know or don’t), is what is annoying.

We often forget that when we are asking for help, we are asking about something that is important to us and it might not necessarily be important to the other person. Sometimes we assume that the main reason for the other person’s existence is to help us and not bother about them doing justice to their pay cheques. It would only be fair if we request them, be patient, respect their time and work and probably send a reminder if they have not responded by the time they said they would. Because, the person at the other end of the chat window is also trying to get equally important tasks done and they would be able to help us only if we stop bothering them every minute.

Ok, I think I’ve had a lot of bad experiences here and hence the rant about why IMs (and sometimes people, erm…well mostly!) can keep distracting you and shift focus from reaching the finish line. Again, when used properly, this can be a boon too. (I still think the scale tilts to the bane side). Anyway while you start debating about it in your mind, I’ll leave you with a conversation that took place recently.

AP (Annoying Person) : Hey

Me : Hey. Tell me.

AP : Do you have any idea where to get XYZ info from?

Me : Yes, it’s available on ABC.

AP : Oh wow! Can you please look it up and send me those details? Probably type it here? I need it for a PPT I’m working on. It’s very important.

Me : You’ll have access to it you can check it out. Let me know if you are not able to get them.

AP : No yaar, my hands are so numb typing all day. I’ve been typing the whole days and my hands are paining. Can you…..

Me : (Thinks)*Yea! I’m sitting here all day drinking green tea and wondering why JK Rowling Killed Fred*

So, have you had any such experiences while using the Instant Messengers?

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