30 days ago, I made the decision to switch from Android back to an iPhone, and it presented an interesting choice — should I install Slack on my new phone? For years, Slack was the dominate application on my mobile device while I worked to build PassiveTotal and later, NinjaJobs, into thriving platforms. Late night server issues, ack! Random product questions, on it. Automated metric alerts, thanks? I was literally on top of any change, question or need and while it felt productive, it was burning me out.
Staring at the beautifully designed hash logo, I was forced to confront whether I actually enjoyed being connected to my work literally all the time. Typing that thought out makes it seem like an incredibly easy decision — of course I don’t want to be connected all the time — but as an entrepreneur, it was tough to realize that I needed a break, even a small one. Not installing Slack on my phone was a small step in reclaiming some balance in my life and so far, it’s worked out great.
So, has not having Slack made me any less productive? The short answer, no, and in fact, I feel like I am more productive. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, here’s my rationale.
When I had Slack on my phone, any notification, alert or unread message was a source of interruption. Nearly all the messages I handled via my phone could have been answered during normal business hours. Not having the application installed meant no more interruptions and thus, time saved to think about anything else.
Having Slack on my phone made it easy to respond at any hour and created unrealistic expectations from colleagues, partners and even myself. My willingness to be “on-call” 24/7 created an unhealthy expectation that others should also respond instantly to requests. Not having the application installed surfaced this way of thinking and allowed me to adopt a “standard hours” schedule and use other communications channels if something was really important.
When Slack was on my phone, weekends quickly turned into work days. I’d see small requests for information or code changes and jump onto my laptop to provide answers. Hours later, I’d find myself frustrated in troubleshooting or deep into conversation or exchanges that could have easily waited for the work week. Not having the application installed made it easier to avoid technology or seemingly simple tasks that required dedicated time.
When Slack was on my phone, my responses were extremely short or not well-articulated, causing more confusion. Despite all advances in technology, typing paragraphs using a mobile keyboard is still not enjoyable. While my messages were always timely, my points weren’t always clear which often meant me needing to clarify later on via a phone call or email. Not having the application installed meant I could spend more time thinking of a detailed response or simply choosing to hold a meeting or collaborate through a video discussion.
Aside from the major items listed, not having Slack on my phone has helped in minor ways from not checking my phone as often to having more detailed conversations with others since I could spend more time thinking about my response. Needless to say, my 30-day experiment will extend over the next couple of months, if not forever.
If you’ve made it this far, chances are you too have dealt with some of these struggles and may be scrambling to delete the application off your phone right this second, but wait! Many of the issues I pointed out in this article were mostly associated with my own way of being or could be any work-related application on a mobile device. My stress was derived from the constant need to be connected to work and Slack was my vehicle for that. If you’re having trouble with balance, take a step back and consider what you could remove whether it’s Slack or some other application.