Stopped using text messages

Why I’ve Stopped Using Text Messaging for Work

One of the things I really pride myself in is being responsive. When a client contacts me, I do my very best to get back to them as quickly as possible. 

In fact, responsiveness has been one of our company’s core values throughout our entire history, and it continues to be so. We will always be highly responsive and serve all of our clients well.

On the surface, it may seem like stopping the use of text messages for work runs counter to my desire to be responsive and serving. But the truth is, text messages make it difficult to maintain my standard of responsiveness and produce quality work for clients.

Here are a few things that I have found that led me to this decision:

Text Messages Are Easy to Overlook

A positive thing about text messages is that they’re easy to check. Unfortunately, that’s also a downside. 

Recently, I was at a doctor’s appointment (personal) and received a text while waiting for my doctor to come in. Right as I was about to respond, my doctor came into the room. I put my phone away and made a mental note that I would return the text when I was done. The problem was, I completely forgot about it! The message sat there for a couple of days before I realized I had never responded. Honestly, I was embarrassed and a little frustrated with myself.

Sadly, the same thing happened when I was going into a recent meeting. I saw the text right before I went in but didn’t have time to respond. When the meeting was over, I was going over my thoughts and follow-up, and unfortunately, I forgot all about that text.

Maybe you can relate? From many conversations I’ve had with other professionals and friends, it doesn’t seem like I’m alone.

Text Messages Are Difficult to Refer Back To

This is maybe one of the most significant issues relative to producing high-quality work. 

I use everything Apple, so I’m very invested in their ecosystem (borderline Apple fan-boy). iMessage certainly has its advantages, but its search function is still very underwhelming.

When search doesn’t work, scrolling back through a text thread, especially one that can be weeks or months old, makes it difficult to refer back to information.

Counter that with almost every email program, the search capability is fantastic. Plus, with email, you can easily forward an email, making it easy to delegate important tasks to the appropriate members of my team. Text messages are much more challenging to create a productive workflow around.

Because I don’t want anything to be missed for my clients, email, phone, and meetings have consistently proven to be the best.

Text Messages Interrupt Getting Actual Work Done

I certainly don’t multitask well (spoiler alert – no one does), and text messages represent a significant interruption to getting real work done for my clients, the people I am called to serve professionally.

Yes, I could silence my phone, but I’ve been reluctant to do that because I want my family to be able to reach me if necessary.

I’ve been playing with the new focus modes in iOS 15, and being able to control notifications has certainly been helpful, and this solution has promise. However, as great as it is, it doesn’t solve the problems listed above. 

Text Messages Can Make You a Less Effective Leader at Home

Admittedly, this one is personal. I have a fierce desire to serve my clients and my team well, and I also have that same desire when it comes to my family.

One of the downsides of text messages is that it makes it too easy for work to interfere with family time. Yes, any communication medium can pose the same problem, but not to the degree of text messages.

If I see a work-related text message pop up, I have found that I cannot compartmentalize that well. My mind instantly shifts to work, making me less present for my family.

I’m a big believer in margin and in trying to lead my wife and children well. Plus, I know that my time with my children in the house is limited. I’m already amazed at how fast they are growing up! I don’t want to miss out on anything with my family. I certainly don’t want them to feel like work or my phone is more important than them. This has made me very intentional about guarding work against coming into family time.

When I’m at work, I want to be fully invested in helping my clients succeed. And when I’m at home, I want to be fully invested in my family. 

If you want to read a great book on this topic, I highly recommend this one.

Going Old School

Because I have found text messages not to be an efficient and effective business tool for serving my clients and their interference to investing in my family, I’ve decided to no longer use text messages for work.

From now on, I will be utilizing email, phone (a dedicated business line), and Zoom for all of my business communications with clients. These tools allow me to stay focused on producing great work for our clients and remain highly responsive.

You might ask, “What about an after-hours emergency?” All of our clients have access to a support contact, so in the event of something critical, my team can still respond quickly.

I genuinely believe that I will be able to serve clients even better than before through this approach.

For me, text messages are great for short, personal communications between family and friends, but they are less than ideal for work. 

What do you think about my updated communications strategy? Do you think it could work for you?