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Turn off Teams/Slack at Work to Improve Focus?

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Data Engineer at Financial Companya year ago

I'm reading "Deep Work" by Cal Newport about the value of long periods of focus, non-interrupted concentration to career success. This advice is especially relevant to software engineers where it helps to get into a flow state. I already don't have my inbox open all the time and check it between tasks. I'm wondering about going the next step and turning off Teams notifications. This seems like a big move because that allows my boss and coworkers to reach me instantly anytime. It also allows them to see when I'm online. So my question is, is this something that one can "get away with doing" at most workplaces? Obviously for me, I can just try it and see what happens and/or ask my manager about it. Just wondering if this would fly at most tech companies.

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(3 comments)
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    I'm a big believer in turning off chat apps when going into deep work. It also doesn't have to be all or nothing - You can adjust the settings so that you only get notified for certain things (e.g. You are @-mentioned in a group chat).

    Slack and Teams are just so noisy, and we all get that dopamine hit when we get a messaging notification (i.e. "I can't wait to see what's going on and why I'm needed!"). You are 100% right that focus blocks are extremely important for software engineers, and I straight up don't think you can survive as a senior engineer in particular without carving out powerful focus blocks.

    Just wondering if this would fly at most tech companies.

    This depends less on the company and more on whether your manager is a micromanager.

    Good engineering managers in general trust their reports to conduct their work however they wish to maximize their impact in a way that's comfortable for them. For our deep-dive on how to find those managers, I highly recommend this video: [Masterclass] What Software Engineers Should Look For In Their Engineering Manager

  • 2
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    Yes, you can (and should!) get away with doing this. In fact, I'd encourage turning off notifications from Teams/Slack/any other messaging service every day for at least a bit.

    The way I've seen some engineers do this to make it a bit easier on the team is to have some regularity around it. e.g. no notifications every morning, or that you're not active on these apps on Wednesdays.

    That way, if you are a single point of failure for the team, at least your teammates can expect or plan around you being slower to respond during those periods.

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    Data Engineer [OP]
    Financial Company
    a year ago

    Thanks guys! Maybe I'll try batching my day into parts, i.e. check it every couple hours or so. That turns it into an active process rather than a reactive one.