I communicate across many channels (email, slack, teams, phone, LinkedIn, etc.) at work, through my other professional activities, and personally. For each channel I have multiple accounts. It’s a lot to keep track of, but that’s my problem, not yours. Explaining how I manage and prioritize my communications hopefully makes it easier for others to communicate with me.

I don’t require anyone to adopt my communication patterns. Because I monitor so many communication channels, I can almost always communicate wth people using their preferred mechanism. Please reach out through whatever your preferred mechanism is and I will respond in-kind. If the distinction matters to me, I will shift the conversation from one account/system to the another.

I use multiple devices, and have different notification, application, and account setups on each. I do this to compartmentalize communications so when I’m working in one category, I can prioritize communications in that category at the same time. I disable most notifications because the volume is so high. I pride myself in being very responsive in communications, but may not be immediately responsive as I don’t see every message immediately.

I often send replies outside of normal working hours. I subscribe to the philosophy “I reply when it’s convenient to me, you reply when it’s convenient to you.” However, if you reply to me off-hours when I am actively communicating, I am happy to engage synchronously, either with rapid back-and-forth messages or by jumping on a call to work towards a more rapid conclusion of our conversation.

Some items require more time or care in replying, and I’ll usually defer those for later. Simple things I often reply to right away. Others go into a list, and some channels make this easier than others. Slack and Gmail are my favorites, because they have built-in tools to defer items for later follow-up. LinkedIn and SMS messaging are the toughest, because either I have to reply when I first see the message or risk it being lost in the noise. If I defer an item for later reply, I will usually reply quickly to indicate that.

If you are waiting on a reply from me and think I might have dropped the message, feel free to reach out to check. Generally I will reply within 24 hours of receiving a message, at least to set an expectation on when to expect a full reply. Things come up though, and sometimes it takes me longer than I would like to reply. I can also lose track of conversations, especially if they are sent over a noisy mechanism with poor inbox management tools. If I am waiting on a reply from you, there is a good chance I will never follow-up. I manage my inbound communications very carefully, but don’t monitor my outbound communications much at all.

To reach me urgently, send me a text message to my cell or Google Voice numbers. If it’s something simple, I can just reply to that. If it’s more complicated, put it the communication wherever it would normally go, then send me a text message alerting me to what you just sent. I do not install messaging applications like slack and teams on my phone. If you @ me, or send me a private message on those applications, it will eventually result in an email notification on my phone, which I will likely see. In those cases, if I see the need to reply right away, I will likely reply via email.

Calling me unexpectedly will never work. I don’t answer my phone for unplanned calls.