Is instant messaging good or bad for productivity?

In Instant Messaging - Your Take?, D. Keith Robinson asked the readers of To-Done whether they felt instant messaging to be a potential productivity reducer or not. The result is that most find it detrimental to productivity. Keith talks a bit about that in Instant Messaging: Risky To Productivity.

I can't say I'm very surprised. All too often IM will take my focus away from what I'm working on, so I don't always keep my copy of Adium X running. Most of the people on my contact list have learned that most of the time I'm not very chatty over IM. At least not while I'm at the office trying to get things done.

That said, there are situations where IM actually can help increase productivity. I'm currently working on a large project with a tight deadline, and the client is based in another city. IM lets me communicate with their designers and developers almost as efficiently as if we were in the same office, which makes discussing ideas and solutions and transferring design mockups a lot more seamless than if we were to use email.

What's your opinion on the use of instant messaging? Do you use it to increase your productivity, or does it just focus your attention away from what you are working on?

Posted on November 17, 2005 in Quicklinks, Productivity