Are you getting the benefits of asynchronous communication?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a post about asynchronous communication…

The phrase “asynchronous communication” is a doozy. It sounds academic and dry and maybe even a little confusing. But the idea couldn’t be simpler. It refers to the back and forth communication  between two or more remote parties that is independent of time. Asynchronous means not simultaneous.

The best example of such communication is email. It arrives when it arrives and you respond to it when you have the time. An example of synchronous communication — the opposite —  is a Zoom or Skype call, where you have to be in a specific place at a specific time.

I started thinking about asynchronous communication recently after reading a blog post on the topic.  The author suggested that people working asynchronously get many benefits including better contact across time zones, more detailed responses, less stress and increased productivity.

While I agree with all of these points, I still have a big word of caution for most freelance writers. Make sure you actually treat all your communication asynchronously. The blogger offered the opinion that most people are not usually expected to respond immediately to email and, instead, can reply at a time that suits their schedule and workload.

But I have found the opposite. Many clients expect immediate responses and many freelancers feel an urgent need to respond quickly. After more than 20 years working as a freelancer I suggest that we need to train our clients to expect a reasonable response time rather than an immediate one.

If you a trying to write, monitoring your email is the last thing in the world you should be doing. Declare “email free” times and instead focus on your writing. And let your clients know what those times are.

You’ll be doing them a big favour. And you’ll be doing yourself one, too.


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