I’ve Almost. Started. This. Task.

Animated Gif: Guy interrupting girl while she's trying to meditate.  Instant messaging is the opposite of eliminating interruptions

You’ve probably experienced this before
You have the tasks you want to get done, but before you can start, you get sucked into a group message.

The next thing you know, 30 minutes have gone by and you still haven’t touched the of your tasks. The group chat wasn’t only eating up your day, it also used precious time from the other team members in the discussion. That thirty minutes actually cost two hours of productivity, and that doesn’t count the time it takes for everyone to get their focus back.

When you’re working with a distributed team, it’s hard to get everyone on a call to discuss a new idea that may distract them from their daily focus. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed…

In order to eliminate interruptions, try to present your ideas using a platform that allows people to engage when it works best for them. You’ll eliminate a major time-waster, and since people process information differently, you’re also empowering those who like to think about things before they respond.

To help take your ideas to the next level, there are a few things you should look for in a notes platform:

  1. Collaboration – being able to work as a team, on the same idea, regardless of timezone and location, is a huge efficiency boost.
  2. Contextual Commenting – written language isn’t always clear. Being able to discuss specific aspects of your ideas removes complication.
  3. Easy-to-Use – if you need to train your team on how to use it, it’s probably not the right choice.
  4. Manageable Notifications – the goal is to eliminate interruptions not add more.

Email is not Collaborative

Raise your hand if you like group emails? Oh, no hands? That’s usually the reaction I get. Not only does email get extremely cumbersome to communicate with on a one-on-one basis, but it’s nearly impossible to follow a conversation when you have more than two people communicating (let alone a whole team). Plus, we all know someone who still can’t figure out the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all’.

Bottom line: Email is based on old technology and it’s not suited for efficient group collaboration.

Docs are Big

If email is not collaborative enough, what about solutions like Google Docs? Personally, I’m a huge fan of Google’s GSuite. It was the first real solution that showed off the power of real-time remote team collaboration (that actually worked). However, Docs are for Documents… they even look like a full sheet of paper. If your idea only takes up a few sentences, you’re still left with the rest of the empty page staring at you. Then, you have a bunch of single documents taking up space in you Docs dashboard, and only the most avid users of Google Drive will be able to figure out how to actually keep them organized. The rest of us will hope that they randomly come up when we try to remember what we titled them using the Docs Search tool.

Bottom line: Use Docs for Collaborating on Documents, not on Ideas, Notes or Brainstorms.

Messaging is Annoying

So… not email, not Docs, what about messaging apps like Slack? A great idea, but this needs to be used very sparingly. As your team grows, you can end up spending your day messaging without actually making progress on anything you planned to get done. This goes both ways, for every message you send, that’s also an interruption into their day. If you send a message in a channel, you’re interrupting everyone in that channel the second you press send.

To make matters worse, any time a message comes across from a “boss”, your brain instantly tells you that you must drop everything you’re doing and respond immediately. A surefire way to reduce team efficiency!

Bottom line: Use messaging only when the urgency of the message is clear and the benefits outweigh the interruptions you’ll create.

Collaborative Notes help Eliminate Interruptions

Imagine having the ability to collaborate on ideas, comment with threaded discussions, and eliminate interruptions for the rest of your team. Then, easily organize everything in folders, notebooks, and tags, so finding older thoughts is not an issue. What you’re picturing is a modern collaborative notes platform.

Bottom line: Collaborative notes are the next step in team collaboration, and can become a powerhouse for your team efficiency and communication.

Top Pick: Notejoy

Screenshots of Notejoy. A great solution to eliminate interruptions.

The solution we use is from Notejoy.com. Their web app is effective, their desktop apps are even better, and their mobile apps ensure that you can add notes at any time (as long as you have your phone on you)

Runner Up: Evernote

Screenshots of Evernote. Another alternative to eliminate interruptions.

Evernote has been the leader in this space for a while. They have a robust platform that is available on all platforms and is definitely a good option. However, the design and experience of leveraging it from a team perspective just doesn’t match the streamlined capabilities found in solutions like Notejoy.

Worth Noting: Onenote

Screenshots of Onenote. A third alternative to eliminate interruptions.

This is a creative solution for notes, that’s much more like a traditional notebook. I think I would have loved this solution in college, but just couldn’t make it work in a professional setting, especially with a team.

Bottom line: Try out different solutions and find one that works best for you and your team. The right solution is the one that works for you.