PING. 7:30am. Message from Jane re: lunch
BUZZ. 8:15am. When can I expect that report on my desk?
BLEEP. 8:20am. Here’s 10% off your next order
BRIINNG. 8:25am. You forgot to include the attachment
BRAAAAP. 8:27am. I’m still waiting for that report
BRRRRRRRRR. 8:28.am. You have a new message on Facebook
Feeling overwhelmed yet? It’s not even 8:30am. You haven’t reached the office, and the worst part is, you know you’re going to have a whole bunch of messages waiting for you when you log in to your team chat at work. I know what you’re thinking. The communications revolution was supposed to make our lives EASIER!
Today, we spend more time managing our communications apps that we do actually communicating. We’re in a constant state of distraction and we’re struggling to maintain our flow, something that’s absolutely crucial to the way we work most effectively and creatively. It’s not necessarily the number of messages that we receive every day, hour, or minute, but a destructive culture of synchronization that has us trapped in a vicious circle of sending and replying to messages instantly. Let’s face it. You’re a slave to the ping, beep, and buzz.
Instant messengers such as Slack, Skype, and WhatsApp demand instant attention. They lock you in, ruining your concentration and breaking up your day into tiny chunks of scattered thought. It could be an important work request or the latest funny cat gif doing the rounds—but you’ll reply, who wouldn’t? Put simply, you can never really engage with any task because your mind is being stretched ever thinner as you deal with an incessant stream of messages. You can never find real flow.
This always-on design is leading us increasingly towards an always-on mentality. The technology itself is actively coercing us into immediate replies, something that has very quickly translated into expectation and impatience on the part of whoever you are communicating with. And let’s be real for a minute, probably you too!
The way in which we work today is also a factor. Increasingly, we are no longer tied to the same desks, offices, or even countries. Individuals can be scattered across different time zones. Teams can be spread across continents. Freelancers and remote workers can be on the other side of the world. This means that there is always the temptation to answer those midnight emails, to add just a little more information for those team members who are just logging in.
We’re not even safe when we’re at home. The instant-messaging creep is so pervasive that we can never really shut off at the end of the day. We feel pressure to reply to those small requests and quick emails whenever we have our devices handy—it only takes the ping of a
phone. Always on really means ALWAYS.
Look, we know there’s no OFF button for life, but there has to be an alternative to always on. Luckily for you there is, and it’s been staring us in the face the whole time. Asynchronous communication is the answer, and email is the best example of how you can take back control of your life.
What is Asynchronous Communication Exactly?
The definition of asynchronous communication is best explained by comparing synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication requires two (or more) participants to be active at the same time and on the same platform—like a telephone call or Skype, for example.
Asynchronous communication, on the other hand, does not require both parties to be active/online in order to share information. Email is the best example of this, but standard SMS messages and voicemail are also asynchronous.
The difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication then, isn’t necessarily in the tools we use, but the underlying technology that those tools are based on. If your team chat or communications apps are based on synchronous logic, then there’s a good chance that your stress levels will increase, and your concentration levels will decrease. It can even lead to job burnout, perhaps the most destructive result of the always-on mentality.
Asynchronous Communication and Flow
Asynchronous communication depends on a mutual understanding that, once the information is transmitted, it will be dealt with in as timely a fashion as is humanly possible. It fosters a healthier way to communicate. Colleagues, clients, and friends no longer depend on or demand instant replies. The technology itself guides our messaging etiquette.
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand how asynchronous communication can be hugely beneficial to your flow. Flow is how you work most effectively. Concentrating all of your efforts on a single task. Giving yourself space to be creative. Asynchronous communication is your best friend when it comes to flow. It allows you to turn off, and only connect or reply when you choose to. It enables you to minimize distractions. To really dive deep into complex work.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication – Finding a Balance
When it comes to collaboration, then synchronous forms of communication do offer a few benefits. They allow you to share ideas and brainstorm together instantly. However, if you’re relying on a single app such as Slack, these are quickly outweighed by the negatives. The right balance then, is crucial, and here at Spike, we’re working hard to bring you the very best of both worlds.
Spike’s foundation is asynchronous. It’s based on email and includes all of the features you need to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and friends. However, we’ve taken email and reimagined it for the 21st century, bringing you a chat-like format that no longer relies on confusing or repetitive threads and conventional email layouts. We’ve ditched the repetitive headers and signatures to create something altogether more conversational. In fact, we call it Conversational Email, and it’s built to help you find your flow.
Conversational Email brings you all the advantages of chat—it encourages streamlined communication, it’s responsive and flexible, and it allows you to make real connections with those around you. Put simply, it’s a more human way to connect. However, since Spike is built to be asynchronous, you also have the opportunity to reclaim control of your time. To put all of your effort into your work. To concentrate and be creative. Spike brings you all of the connection and none of the pressure.
If you want to learn more about flow, the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communications, or you are on the lookout for ways to be more productive in your daily life, check out the Spike blog and stay tuned for the best tips and tricks around.