1. Do not be logged into any chat application by default all the time you are online. If you could follow this, then half the time you spend in online chats would be saved. Having status mode as busy / don’t disturb doesn’t really help. Our best friend’s first job is to buzz! us 🙂 . Login / Logout notifications from contacts could be distracting too. If you are really busy, if you don’t have a plan to chat with someone, if you don’t have your regular contacts online, LOGOUT NOW from the chat.
2. Do not start any chat application during the system startup. First, it slows down your startup time. Second, you could really be caught with lot of chat windows before you do the things for which you started the system actually. So turn off the option to open it during system startup.
3. Use Google talk or the chat within Gmail. Google talk is really a small app. It can be downloaded fast and installed easily and also starts up without delay. It has a clean and simple interface so you won’t be wasting time exploring / using / understanding the needless ‘coool’ features and cluttered menus.
4. Use one chat client at a time. Right now, I use Google talk for text and or voice chat. Yahoo messenger for video chat. Skype is bulky and slows down your system and I had bad experiences with its sound quality and connectivity. So I don’t use Skype. For calling phones in India, you can use JustVoip. It is cheap and has good sound quality. I don’t really understand the need to have more than one chat client kept opened at a time. I suggest having Google talk as the primary client and then to make choices among others when the need arises for video / audio chat / calls.
5. Do not use chat rooms. They are THE time-killers. Grow up. I can’t imagine a single useful thing that can be done in chat rooms.
6. Whenever possible go for voice chat. It reduces the time and effort needed to type. Speaking is faster and clearer. Calling needs a minimal agenda traditionally. So, you would think twice before calling whereas in text chat you wouldn’t think before starting to type that hi, how’s life which could have been avoided very well. Speaking needs some kind of rapport with the guy at the other end. If you don’t get into that rapport you are more probable to end the chat soon unlike in text chats where you keep saying bye c u for 10 times and before saying it the 11th time you remember something and the chat keeps dragging. Voice chat as a habit and priority will keep you away from chat during working hours in office because it is not easy to voice chat for ever without being watched by colleagues.
7. Do not use chat as a time pass. There are lot more ways to pass time in a healthy, funny and useful manner.
8. Do not use chat for replying to emails unless you have a situation to troubleshoot immediately or you expect a reply immediately. Emails can be short and to the point saving you lot of time.
9. Do not hesitate to decline chat invitations from unknown people and avoidable contacts or to block existing contacts who keep distracting / disturbing you. It is perfectly ok.
10. Stay in invisible mode if you want to focus chatting with a particular contact. Too many chat windows can be distracting and time consuming.
11. You don’t really need to start a chat when you see a contact appear online. We don’t call someone everyday just because he has a mobile phone. Applying the same logic, you need not chat all the time when you see a contact appear online. You need not fear that you will be mistaken as a cold / unfriendly character.
Remember that online chat is not the only way to stay connected with people close to you who would really matter in the real world / time. I always call / visit my best friends and family or get calls / visits from them and they rarely come for an online chat. If used wisely, online chats can be a good productivity / social networking tool saving you money and time.