What time of the day are you most likely to be in a meeting, on a phone call, sending email, or available via chat? One easy way to answer this is to open your calendar and look at the last week and count the meetings, phone calls, outbound emails and chat sessions and plot those against a daily graph. I plotted mine against 2 hour blocks of the day and had some interesting realizations.
Not surprisingly, availability to send emails is inversely proportional to probability of being in a meeting, and after 5pm I’m catching up on the day with emails. What did surprise me was my spike in chat traffic in the afternoon, all of the communications were work related, internal or with customers. I noticed that four days of the week both external and internal chat requests spiked in the 3:30-4:30pm range and the one day it didn’t I hadn’t logged back into chat after a webinar presentation where I turned off the chat service. This got me to realizing how people think of my availability and how important it is for me to know when and how people expect to get a hold of me during the week. One of the keys to being accessible is making sure you are available where and how people expect and are predictable in that availability. Years ago, I had plotted several weeks of my time as several of my regular customers and employees had mentioned that I seemed swamped during that time. The thing was, I didn’t really feel that overwhelmed. But, when I looked at how I was managing my day I was pretty erratic. I adjusted my schedule throughout the week and, though I didn’t reduce my workload, the perception was that I was more available and responsive.
Of course, it’s always fun to just drop in on someone during the day so I take any opportunity I can to surprise people, but I’ll also set a reminder to open up chat in the afternoon to keep the lines of communication open.
When are your busy times and how do you tend to communicate with people? Create your own free Instagram here, the results may surprise you.