The rise of instant text-based communication has drastically changed how we communicate in the workplace, and if you’re over 30, you probably don’t need me to tell you. Instant messaging services like Slack, Gchat, Discord, and even rapid-fire back-and-forth email have had a particularly transformative effect on project planning and execution.
We all know good planning is important, but these days, it feels like we can kinda get by without it. After all, everyone on our team is just a few keystrokes away. This makes it possible to skimp on planning and rely on moment-to-moment instant communication instead. We can now “play it by ear” to an unprecedented degree, checking in with colleagues every time we have a quick question instead of trying to anticipate the question during planning.
But the great cost of these technologies—which society is just now starting to acknowledge—is that they interrupt us. They disrupt workflow, dissolve focused thought, and kill personal productivity. As Cal Newport argues in Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, valuable work—the kind that moves organizations and careers forward—requires intense, sustained attention on pivotal projects.
It’s true that an hour spent planning saves two hours in implementation, but it may save three hours on Gchat. Insist on proper planning—it’s worth it.