Don’t Kill Me—I Don’t Use Slack

Trust is a big thing for the GAN Community (“Love the experience. Trust the results” is our brand promise, after all). And, trust has been a big theme in my blogs lately, too.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how to keep trust with investors.

Last week, I wrote about how to keep trust with your customers.

And this week, I want to address another kind of “trust”—
The idea that you shouldn’t have to be constantly available on every platform in order for people to trust you.

The Endless Barrage

Most of us are getting bombarded with incoming messages, all the time. You probably don’t really need proof, but here’s some. It’s a chart from a study by Gloria Mark, et. al., called “Email Duration, Batching, and Self-Interruption,” and it’s one of my favorite references related to how most of us are really engaging with email.
 
 

 
 
And that’s just email.

It doesn’t include other “interruptions” we experience every day:
Texts
Voicemails
Meetings (so many meetings)
Surprise Drop-Ins (i.e., “Have five minutes to chat?”)
Facebook Messages
WhatsApp Messages
And, of course, Slack
 

How We Relate to Our Tech

Every new communication technology seems to give us greater and more constant access to each other. In so many ways, it’s—no doubt—changed the world for the better. But, with every new technology comes a responsibility to assess our relationship to it.

And one of the problems with all of the ways we’re communicating with each other via our tech is an unstated expectation that you have to respond to someone and it needs to be done as immediately as possible. With texts or Slack, it feels like you have a couple of hours to respond without being rude. With voicemail or email, it’s probably closer to a day or two.

For me, these unstated expectations can be a major challenge because not responding as quickly as others might hope makes me feel like I’m letting them down. When you multiply that feeling by the amount of incoming communication I actually receive, it’s just too much.

Not too long ago, I’d regularly get around 200 Slack messages, 300 emails, 75 texts, a handful of voicemails, and a steady influx of surprise “drop-ins,” asking for “just a few minutes of my time” every day. I literally didn’t have enough time to respond to all of them. And it began to wear on me mentally because I felt like I was letting so many people down.

So I sensed this constant tension between 1) Making sure I didn’t disappoint the people I know, love, and respect who were reaching out to me, and 2) Needing to focus on what was most important to my business, family, and friendships. That tension isn’t inherently wrong; it was actually a good thing because it forced me to consider which kinds of communication were important to me and when I wanted to engage with them.

It’s just that I was on defense all the time. Instead of feeling like my interactions were intentional and like I was driving my life in the direction it needed to go, I was constantly responding to others. I’m guessing you relate.

So I stopped using certain mediums.
 

Less Really is More

I decided to stop using Slack, responding to voicemails, or allowing the “just-five-minutes-with-you” meetings.

Stopped, cold turkey.

And it has helped me get back on offense. It’s cut down my incoming messages by about 40%, giving me more time to do what I really need to do.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not for everyone. Slack is necessary for some CEOs or teams. In fact, the GAN team still uses Slack because it helps them get answers from each other quickly—essential when they each have crowded inboxes. But, for me, I can’t effectively run a company with the amount of incoming communication I had been receiving.

So, if you call me and I don’t pick up, you’ll get an outgoing message that will thank you for calling, but politely requests that you text or email me instead of leaving a voicemail. And if someone asks for “five minutes to run something by me,” I almost always ask them to find 15 minutes on our calendars the next day.

I still have such a long way to go. My email still gets out of control (like today, when I’m staying out of the office to dedicate the entire day to tackling my inbox). But, still, I’m on offense so much more. I’m on top of all of my in-person meetings and texts. The interactions I do have feel so much more intentional.

And I’m just not worrying about all those Slack messages or voicemails that I haven’t responded to.