App Overload

Digital Overwhelm: Navigating App Overload at Work 6 | 21

Unpack the complexities of digital communication in the workplace with Jason and Amy on this episode of the Radical Candor Podcast. They dissect the overwhelming world of app overload, highlighting how the excessive use of communication tools diminishes productivity and increases stress. Listen as they provide historical insights, discuss the enduring necessity of email, and offer actionable strategies for setting effective communication norms to streamline workflows and enhance team dynamics.

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Episode at a Glance — App Overload

The average worker spends nearly half their workweek using communication apps like email, Slack, and messaging platforms. On top of that, they spend around four hours per week simply reorienting themselves after switching between different apps and tools. This constant “app overload” and context switching is cognitively taxing, increases stress levels, and makes it harder to focus on priorities.


@radicalcandorofficial App Overload #sensoryoverload #radicalcandor #overload #overwhelmed ♬ original sound – Radical Candor

Radical Candor Podcast Checklist

  1. As a team and as an individual, you need to work to identify the essential communication apps that you need for your work. And then eliminate the rest of the nonsense. It’s also really important to set boundaries and establish designated times for checking and responding to messages that you receive in the communication apps that you agree to use rather than thinking the only way to do this is to be constantly available to all people at all times.
  2. Talk to the folks you work most closely with, your team, and share how you like to use various communication tools
  3. Keep time in your calendar to think and focus on the work that matters the most. Even though it’s really tempting to quickly respond to an email and feel like you’ve ticked that thing off your list, that’s probably not the most important work that you can be doing.

The TLDR Radical Candor Podcast Transcript


@radicalcandorofficial why is it so catchy?!?! @The Kiffness #MemeCut #catsoftiktok #igomeow #catmeme #WorkLife #CorporateLife #OfficeLife #9to5 #WorkplaceCulture #WorkLifeBalance #OfficeHumor #CareerAdvice #BossLife #WorkHumor #worktok #corporatetiktok #MemeCut #Meme ♬ original sound – Radical Candor

[00:00:00] Jason Rosoff: Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Radical Candor podcast. I’m Jason Rosoff. Kim is out today. 

[00:00:09] Amy Sandler: I’m Amy Sandler. And today we’re talking about app overload at work. There was a survey by Forbes Advisor, and it found that people spend half their working week using communication apps. And this doesn’t even take into account the half dozen or so other apps most people are using during their work day, just for themselves.

[00:00:30] There was a Harvard Business Review study from 2022, and it found that the average worker spends around four hours per week reorienting. I’m having to reorient myself around that word, reorienting themselves after toggling between apps. Jason, just before I go on, how would you define reorienting after toggling?

[00:00:52] Jason Rosoff: Everybody’s experienced this with, whether or not they recognize it, but there’s a cost that you, for example, let’s say you’re in the middle of writing something and a notification pops up in the upper right hand corner of your screen and you sort of look over at the notification and then you look back and even though it was only a few seconds, you often have to like reread the last part of the sentence that you had written in order to remember where you were.

[00:01:16] Amy Sandler: Great. And so just to quote the study that Forbes Advisor study says, quote, psychology and neuroscience have shown that jumping between tasks, also called context switching, is cognitively taxing. We find that even switching or toggling between two applications equates to context switching. Excessive toggling increases the brain’s production of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, slows us down, and makes it harder to focus, end quote.

[00:01:46] So just to go back to some of those hours, if we’re spending twenty hours a week communicating on apps and another four hours reorienting our brains after toggling, all of a sudden we’ve only got sixteen hours a week to do actual, to do actual work. And so Jason, just to kick off this conversation, one of the things that you do that is unique, I think, in your role as, uh, CEO at Radical Candor, we also, as you know, call you the chief tinkerer. 

[00:02:16] Jason Rosoff: Hmm.

[00:02:16] Amy Sandler: Uh, and given your background, you have a lot of direct experience with apps, with actually building apps. Which I think gives you an interesting lens into the leadership part of, like, how do I even as a leader think about organizing communication apps? What kind of apps do we use? How do we decide them? How do we engage with them as team members? Like, how do you even think about that as a leader? 

[00:02:42] Jason Rosoff: Part of the problem is that most leaders don’t really think about it.There’s a fundamental issue that appeared about forty years ago with the popularization of email, which was 

[00:02:56] Amy Sandler: Wait a minute, email forty years ago? 

[00:02:59] Jason Rosoff: Yeah, yes. 

[00:03:00] Amy Sandler: Like from DARPA or from actual usage? 

[00:03:02] Jason Rosoff: No. Like in the eighties, email was starting to be, was starting to be popular, become in popular use. Uh, in the nineties it took off as like a consumer thing, uh, and ever since we’ve been living with it.

[00:03:18] Amy Sandler: My brain is toggling between what you just said and my own personal history with email. My first email address, I was working at a university, so it was in the early nineties. When was your first email address? 

[00:03:31] Jason Rosoff: Uh, my first email address was an AOL email address, and it was probably right around nineteen-ninety, ninety-one maybe? Something like that? 

[00:03:41] Brandi Neal: I just have to tune in. This is Brandi, the producer, writer. That’s like blowing my mind, Jason, because I graduated from high school in nineteen ninety-six and I took typing on a typewriter. I don’t think I had email until like nineteen ninety-eight. I don’t even think I ever heard the word email until like the late nineties. And I don’t know if that’s just, I wasn’t into computers or, 

[00:04:08] Jason Rosoff: Yeah, I don’t, maybe, like, I think businesses were certainly using email in the early nineties already, like as a primary means of internal communication. Uh, the, and AOL was, like, very popular by the mid nineties, right? 

[00:04:25] Amy Sandler: Yes. 

[00:04:26] Jason Rosoff: That was, like, the primary way that people got online. Uh, I think you were caught up in the first wave of this, like, everybody must have an email address in ninety-eight. So, I, that makes sense to me. I think a lot of people would probably have a similar timeline. 

[00:04:44] Amy Sandler: Yeah. Well, I remember in business school, we got our email addresses. Um, and, uh, I still remember that fondly. And so, yeah, I probably got my first one in the, oh, you always remember your first email address, I guess. 

[00:05:01] Jason Rosoff: I think a lot of people, a lot of people probably do. Anyway, where I was going with this was, um, one of the things that, you know, I want to show like a causal chain for why we don’t really think about these things.

[00:05:16] So one of the things that happened with the advent of email is one of the primary roles of, you know, secretaries or administrative assistants was, uh, intercompany communica, intracompany communication, right? They were the channels through which communication traveled. 

[00:05:33] They also had other important jobs. So they often were helping with tasks like project management and other things that, uh, like the flow of work and making sure that people knew the right information at the right time, uh, which requires context and some knowledge. And as email became popularized, the role of the administrative assistant shrunk in a lot of organizations. There were fewer and fewer of them. Uh, because there was this perception that email could, like, kind of solve this problem, right? If we can just send each other, who needs an interdepartmental memo? We can just send each other an email. And so they started, people, they started to eliminate these roles.

[00:06:17] Without really understanding the other types of things that people in these positions were actually doing in terms of helping to manage the flow of information inside the organization. And so what, what came about as a result was not only did interdepartmental memos shift into email, but so did project management.

[00:06:35] So did work management shifted. It also shifted into email. And email is a terrible tool for work management. It is an awful tool for work management. We’ve all received one of those threads that’s like, three hundred pages long, and theoretically embedded in there is the collective knowledge of what a project, the state of a particular project and what people are working on. But getting that information out is very difficult. 

[00:07:02] And people became very frustrated with this. They were like, oh my gosh, this is horrible. Like, we can’t really manage a project over email. Well, I should say some people became frustrated with it. I think a lot of people just blithely continued on, and people were frustrated, but they were sort of making do with, uh, 

[00:07:17] Amy Sandler: And you just put at the top of the email, per my last email!

[00:07:21] Jason Rosoff: Correct. Please read the complete chain. I remember a lot of those, uh, those missives, uh, in my early, uh, early, because, like, the first time I tried, I really used email for any sort of real, like, work management was in college. So, like, my group projects were managed over email. 

[00:07:41] Anyway, I’ll fast forward to today. So, like, basically, each of these, like, with each, uh, iteration, so we shifted work management, and interdepartmental communication into email. Um, some people realized, hey, this is really inefficient. We need to add another tool. So then we added some project management tools, right? So things like, uh, Gantt charts, project trackers.

[00:08:04] Now, Gantt charts existed written before they became digitized. Um, but like, how did we send those Gantt charts around? We emailed them to everybody. So email stayed pretty central for quite a long time until, uh, until we started to get, uh, chat type of tools. So this allowed for, like, instantaneous intraday communication.

[00:08:27] And so going back, this is things like, uh, like Skype was one of the very early tools that people used for this. There was obviously AOL had a messenger tool, MSN messenger tool. And then fast forward a little bit further and you get, you start to see tools like Slack uh, up here. Uh, and Slack, the intention behind Slack was actually to eliminate email.

[00:08:50] So if you go back to like the mission of the organization, like Slack’s objective was to eliminate email. But instead, because people don’t think critically about how work should happen, and where communication about that work should be taking place, what happens in most organizations is you just have all of these apps, and it’s just really unclear where any particular piece of communication, should go.

[00:09:13] And I think even in organizations that try to be intentional about it, because the apps themselves don’t very clearly fit into a particular place in our communication hierarchy, it’s very easy for there to be a, an explosion of different types of uses of each of these communication mediums. And so the research was completely unsurprising to me. Uh, and I have a lot of compassion for the fact that people are having, people on both sides. So both leaders and managers who are trying to make the processes better. And for the people on the other side who are just overwhelmed by all the sort of apps and communication channels, I have compassion for both. Um, and I can see why we wound up in the place that we did. 

[00:09:55] Amy Sandler: So Jason, based on that, that perhaps most leaders have not had an intentional policy around that, how have you thought about integrating various tools at Radical Candor, especially at the same time that AI is delivering all of these new tools simultaneously?

[00:10:14] Jason Rosoff: Yeah, yeah, well, what I’ll say is the AI thing is new enough that I don’t think we fully understand how that’s gonna, how that’s gonna impact things. But the way that I tend to think about it is that email, um, I tend to think about this in terms of what types of communication has to happen where.

[00:10:34] So email is, Slack did not succeed in its mission. Email is still necessary. And the primary reason why email is still necessary is because Slack is an enterprise tool, which means that only the people who work for your company have accounts in Slack. And so if you are working with a client or a customer, it is not trivial, many of whom cannot use Slack and must use Microsoft Teams, which is the Microsoft competitor to Slack.

[00:11:02] Uh, it’s not easy to communicate in and out of your organization through Slack. So that means email still, exists. So, but the question is, what is email used for? And, uh, and that’s really the question you need to ask as you go down your stack is like, what kind of communication is happening in here on what timescale and what norms or expectations should we set around that communication?

[00:11:29] So, for us, the email is, one, an external communication tool. It is the primary way that we interact with our clients. It’s important to note, probably, that we’re an entirely remote and distributed team. 

[00:11:43] Amy Sandler: Mm hmm. 

[00:11:44] Jason Rosoff: Other, there may be other norms that form around email in an organization that is co-located, like in the, or show up in an office together somewhere. Uh, but for us, it’s, an external communication tool, so it’s the way that we sort of document our communication with our, uh, with our clients, uh, and external partners and things like that. And then internally, we will often use it as a way, uh, to communicate longer form, uh, sort of like ideas that we might be having, discussions that we might be having.

[00:12:19] But one of the norms that we’ve developed, and I think that we stick to pretty well, is once something becomes very sort of complicated in email, meaning like there’s a lot of different points of view or something’s unclear. 

[00:12:31] Amy Sandler: Mm-hmm.

[00:12:31] Jason Rosoff: We’re like, okay, email has served its purpose, and we need to have a synchronous conversation. So there’s a norm that we’ve set internally, which is like, hey, if things are really confusing over email, like put the email down and like pick up the phone and call the person or set up some time to meet with the person later in the week. So that pressure release valve solves a lot of problems with email, because I think most of the worst of email is when you’re on reply seventy-five, uh, in an email chain and you don’t know how you’re going to get out, uh, of that mess. And I think that happens a lot because people don’t, because teams don’t have a norm of like how to escape, uh, or when to pull the ripcord on an email chain. 

[00:13:12] Amy Sandler: I would agree. I think we do a really good job of that as a team. And one thing I’m curious about, I’m aware we don’t necessarily have an explicit norm around this, of when is something for Slack and when is something for email. So for example, we’ve got a lot of different channels in Slack about a lot of different content topics. Some are, you know, research or fun or even about AI, as well as, uh, um, message threading. From your perspective, what is something that warrants like a direct message in Slack versus an email? 

[00:13:47] Jason Rosoff: Way back when we introduced Slack, the way that I introduced it was, that email can have, like, an up to twenty-four hour turnaround time by default, like, with no explanation. Like, you can, like, it can take you a day to get to an email. We all have lots of email in our inbox. We can’t expect immediate responses. I will say our clients don’t feel the same way. So the one challenge that we have is that external expectations about email don’t match internal expectations about email. But if I send an email. And I don’t get a response in the same day, I don’t assume that something has gone wrong.

[00:14:21] Uh, whereas Slack, the way that I see it, is during business hours, Slack is the kind of thing where I’m like, hey, this could use immediate or near immediate attention. Um, and if it doesn’t need immediate attention, if instead, I think, like, chat is a better place to have a back and forth about something, I’ll say, I’ll often say, like, hey, I don’t need an immediate response, like, don’t worry about responding right away, but I want to drop this here so we remember to talk about it later.

[00:14:48] But that’s, in my mind, that’s what Slack is for, is, like, when there’s something useful to discuss in real time, Slack is much better, uh, than email. Um, both for its informality and for the instantaneity of knowing, you know, that you’re, when you’re in a conversation with somebody like they’re typing back to you, um, that sort of a thing. So it provides a sort of synchronous text based alternative to email for like things that require more immediate responses. 

[00:15:14] Amy Sandler: So let’s broaden this out into all of the different apps that are available now, and to how we as individuals might start to think about that toggling cost. And Brandi, I wanted to bring in your perspective, uh, if I’m not overstating, I think you said you have twenty-five apps that you use for work on a daily or weekly basis. Is that right? 

[00:15:40] Brandi Neal: That is correct. Sorry, I just wanted to backtrack for a second to about the communication preferences. I think it depends on the person, you know, for like, I’d always rather receive a Slack than an email from anyone in the team.

[00:15:54] But I know, uh, when Amy and I first started working together like twelve years ago, my boss had said like, oh, you should, we had Skype as an internal communication tool. She’s like, oh, you should, uh, ping Amy and ask her this question. So I just Skyped Amy, didn’t really know her. And she basically was like, can you send me an email?

[00:16:16] Like I’m very busy, very important. And I don’t have time to deal with this question right now. But I didn’t know her well enough to know that she would have preferred to send, you know, have the email sent. Um, and that the pinging was very disruptive to her, because people would often be like, put your name and then question mark after it, and you’d have to stop what you were doing and see what they wanted.

[00:16:38] Amy Sandler: I think that was the, uh, I think it was Amy, question mark, and I was on a deadline, and it, and so you’re sort of waiting for, um, the rest of the question. Um, I think it’s a great point, Brandi, which is really about understanding people’s communication preferences. So in addition to email versus Slack, also understanding how people consume information and expectations around that.

[00:17:02] I think even around practicing Radical Candor, we’ve worked with some companies where they are predominantly asynchronous. They’re all virtual and they’re really not organized to have a lot of, you know, real time conversations. So, you know, how do we practice these real time conversations in a culture that might not be organized that way?

[00:17:26] And so I think just, one of the things we talk about in Radical Candor, which is exactly what you were saying in terms of our communication would be, hey, if you have a question, like, I would prefer to know what is the question and then if it’s something that requires, an actual real time conversation, like let’s have the, you know, let’s schedule a real time conversation. But yes, I think the Amy question mark, uh, was very out of the blue and I didn’t know what that was about. 

[00:17:56] Brandi Neal: Yes. And then we also had somebody else in the team that would just call out of the blue. So then I had to be like, hey, you can’t do that because that’s very disruptive to me. Like I’m in the middle of something and then you’re calling to ask me a question. Um, but some people might prefer to be called. 

[00:18:13] Amy Sandler: Yeah. 

[00:18:13] Brandi Neal: So, I think it’s really about getting to know your team. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, Jason. 

[00:18:18] Jason Rosoff: Oh, no, you didn’t. I was going to build on that. I, this is a place where I actually, I think this is one of the culprits for why there is no, there are no rules for what communication goes where, it is like personal preference.

[00:18:33] Um, I tend to agree with you that in an ideal world, you should be able to do that. And on a team of seven people, I feel like we can accomplish that relatively easily. But on a team of a hundred people, there’s literally no way to keep track of who’s per, who, like whose preferences are what. And I think it becomes critically important that there are, that you set norms and expectations and require some sort of conforming to a set of norms as opposed to like basing it entirely on personal preference. So, in my mind, that’s the difference between saying, um, because what we don’t want to have happen is we don’t want, uh, something to go in email that requires an immediate response and the team and that person doesn’t read, check email on a regular basis.

[00:19:25] So there needs to be some way to differentiate like something that is like more real time or immediate versus something that can take more time. And maybe in your organization, email is real time. Like you expect everybody is checking their email, you know, once an hour. Um, I would not recommend that, but maybe that’s your expectation.

[00:19:45] Uh, but yeah, I think that, that’s really the challenge, is in the, in these large organizations, there’s so many preferences, it’s really impossible to keep track. And, because of all of that, there are no norms that have been established, and then people are sort of like in the wilderness figuring it out for themselves.

[00:20:02] And, or putting up with, you know, Jason prefers this and, uh, Brandi prefers that, and so now I feel like there’s no way for me to, like, talk to Brandi, Amy, and Jason about this thing at the same time. Because Brandi doesn’t, like, Amy doesn’t want a Slack ping, Brandi does want a Slack ping, uh, neither Brandi or Amy like to be called, so, like, what is left to me, if I need to get, you know what I’m saying, like that, that’s the thing that we’re trying, trying to avoid. 

[00:20:27] Amy Sandler: And I think that, I mean, that comes up a lot, yeah, that comes up a lot in Radical Candor in terms of, um, even just one of our examples of someone who, you know, one of the examples of a difficult situation, how do you give someone feedback who, you know, pings frequently with last minute requests or, uh, puts everything into multiple emails rather than one email.

[00:20:50] So there’s almost a forcing of toggling by the nature of the communication. So for example, I might’ve said to Brandi, like, hey, if something is urgent, let me know that it’s urgent or we have a, uh, you know, a norm, 

[00:21:01] Jason Rosoff: Yeah.

[00:21:01] Amy Sandler: That we put urgent things in Slack. And so I know if someone’s reaching out to me and says, hey, Amy, like that’s an urgent thing, right?

[00:21:09] So you can kind of manage accordingly. So I do think there’s something around what you’re saying, Jason, of like, there needs to be organizational norms. Another similar one is that, do we have a norm around email so that if, um, if somebody sends an email and it’s not responded to in seventy-two hours, etcetera., You know, how do you follow up with that if we’ve all agreed? Is that kind of where you were going with that? 

[00:21:33] Jason Rosoff: Yes. And to build on it a little bit, since I think most people who are listening to this podcast are in an organization that does, that don’t have any of these norms. Like, they have no norms, they have no guidelines. You know what I’m saying? They’re sort of, 

[00:21:44] Amy Sandler: Yeah. 

[00:21:44] Jason Rosoff: They’re in the wilderness trying to figure it all out. I think one thing that can be really helpful in that environment is to make your preferences and your guidelines very clear. Um, so that that can be done in, uh, at Khan Academy, for example, we had a process where we would spin up working teams, and part of, like, spinning up a working team was going through, like, how are we going to communicate as a team? Like, what are our norms? So, like, we didn’t rely on the whole organization to have an answer to, like, how we’re going to do this. We allowed the teams to decide how they’re going to do, uh, to communicate internally. So that’s a concrete tip. 

[00:22:25] Amy Sandler: Yeah. 

[00:22:26] Jason Rosoff: And a really simple thing that a lot of people could do today is just talk to the team that they work with most frequently and say, hey, can we just establish some guidelines for how we want to use these various tools that we have. And I think as part of that process, understanding individual preferences is really helpful. Because if it turns out there’s lots of alignment that people would prefer to work in Slack versus email, well, then you can, you know what I’m saying, the answer to how we’re going to use these tools is clearer.

[00:22:54] Um, and then it, but if there’s lots of disagreement, it gives you an opportunity to have a public debate or discussion about it so that when you do arrive at a norm, it’s clear to everybody how you got there and hopefully that helps with buy in. 

[00:23:07] Amy Sandler: I think that’s great. And just to really make explicit, what I think you’re doing with these norms is making explicit the implicit. So some folks might think, oh, I’m putting it in a Slack, therefore it’s urgent, therefore I’m expecting you to respond to me, immediately. 

[00:23:21] Jason Rosoff: Correct. 

[00:23:22] Amy Sandler: And the other folks just might not have that in their mind, that’s what that means. And I think that can cause a lot of, you know, unnecessary friction, that if we just actually said up front, like, hey, this is what it means.

[00:23:36] You know, I think just even that would be helpful. I mean, back in the day with email, we would have, you know, sort of in brackets, like FYI or please read or for action or, you know, so there was at least some like context of like, is this a burning fire or is this a, you know, kick it down the road, um, you know, and I think maybe with Slack or some of those immediate tools could also be helpful.

[00:24:00] Brandi Neal: Yeah. Amy, just to go back to, um, my twenty-five apps. Uh, I find email to be the most stressful of all of them, even though it’s been around the longest. And the Forbes Advisor, uh, State of the Workplace Communication, where they said forty-six percent of respondents seeing messages ignored for periods of time said that led to stress.

[00:24:23] Uh, for years and years, my stress streams would be about bartending or waiting tables because I did that for a long time, like not being able to get to the customers fast enough and like orders piling up and everything’s going wrong. Now my stress streams are about emails and they’ve been in the inbox forever and I can’t respond and something’s keeping me from responding. That is my new bartending dream is emails. And I just marked an email read, that I had marked unread for a year, like a couple days ago. Like I’m just not going to deal with that email because it’s just, a year’s been too long. And I think most of the other apps I use don’t require me to communicate with people, like in a immediate fashion, like email does.

[00:25:12] Jason Rosoff: I both sympathize and empathize with that feeling, and I think that the sad truth is, like, no amount of organizational or team norms is going to solve that problem. Because the only way for an organizational team norm to solve that problem is to say, like, no one can email anybody about anything. Because otherwise, like, they’re going to build, you know what I’m saying, emails will build up. And I think this is, like, I want to make a broad, like a broader societal point and then bring it back to the specific. Which is, I think, unlike writing a letter, which, you know, takes some time to consider and require, there’s like a tax, like a time tax, both in terms of like, you have to get the person’s address, and you have to think about what you want to write, and then you have to write the thing on the letter, and then you have to get a postage stamp, and then you have to put it in an envelope, and you have to mail the thing, you know what I’m saying?

[00:26:09] Like, there are many barriers to writing a letter. There are almost no barriers to writing an email. And I feel like this is part of the reason why letter etiquette, by default, was better in most cases than email etiquette. Because it was just harder to send, like, it was more difficult for the person to send. And now what’s happening is that people send out these emails all the time that have an implied obligation of, like, on the other person to respond. And they don’t consider at all, the effort that it might require the other person to respond to their email. And I do believe that, like, human beings, because of our desire to, like, you know, to be in community with one another, and to, like, reciprocate, etcetera, etcetera. Like, there’s a desire that exists in most people to behave in a prosocial way, and to, like, respond to the messages that you are getting. And I think that expectation is just like upside down. It’s completely broken, um, and it’s upside down. And the way that I think about sending an email is like, oh, every time I send an email, it generates like a bunch of new little tasks for everybody who might be CC’d on that email.

[00:27:23] There’s like reading and understanding the email. There’s considering whether to reply to the email. There’s writing the reply to the email. And then there’s like work that might come out of the actual email itself, meaning maybe there’s some, uh, some additional, uh, task that, uh, unrelated to the email, but related to the topic or the content of the email that comes out of it. So I think about that before I shoot off an email. Uh, but I think, I don’t think that many other people do. 

[00:27:54] Amy Sandler: That is such a good point, Jason. And I think just even as people consider in their communications. Yeah, not just, you know, we always talk about Radical Candor’s measured, not at my mouth, but at the listener’s ear. And so it’s almost like thinking about the listener’s eyes and energy. 

[00:28:09] Jason Rosoff: Yup.

[00:28:09] Amy Sandler: And the actual resources. You know, Brandi had brought in about how many apps that you use in your role, twenty-five apps. Everything from, you know, not just communication tools of Gmail or, you know, Slack. But also things around analytics and the podcast and social.

[00:28:28] And so the question on my mind, Jason, is if we almost distinguish between the stress from communication and asynchronous communication and how do I, um, manage those relationships and norms, but then there’s also this other piece of just so many different ways of uh, working with various media. Whether it’s, uh, social, whether it’s images, whether it’s data and analytics, like how do you think about that? How have you just personally even managed that with all the tools that you use? 

[00:29:01] Jason Rosoff: So if we go back to the core piece of guidance, which is whatever is in your locus of control, so like maybe on your small team or maybe just like, even sharing how you treat these communication tools, even if there’s no norm on the team. But to say to communicate with the people you work with regularly, here is how I use email, here is how I use Slack, here is how I use Google Docs, whatever the communication tools are that you’re using right now.

[00:29:27] If you take that step, you’ve created a pathway to stopping the noise that is generated by communication tools while you are focused and working in these other tools that are required for your job. So, I’m going back to the example from the very top of the show is, let’s say you’re deep into editing an image for a social post and you get three Slack notifications. Which was like Amy question mark. Uh, you know what I’m saying? 

[00:29:59] Amy Sandler: Yeah. 

[00:29:59] Jason Rosoff: Like that pops up and it’s like you there question mark. And then the last one is like, I’ve got a question period. You know what I’m saying? Like, and you’re trying to decide what do I do? 

[00:30:08] Amy Sandler: By the way, again, that the notification that their manager is typing a message caused stress for forty-five percent of respondents. Like I’m just imagining the little bullets and like dot, dot, dot. And someone, the bubble is there, 

[00:30:19] Jason Rosoff: Yeah. 

[00:30:20] Amy Sandler: Increasing the stress. 

[00:30:21] Jason Rosoff: But by setting, by saying here, here’s how I, or here’s how we, are going to use these tools, that allows you to do the second most important thing if you’re dealing with overload, which is to manage notifications.

[00:30:34] And when I say manage, I mostly mean turn off. Turn off notifications. Like notifications for communication tools should not be on by default, even though they are. Um, the, I’m sure that, uh, for many people, they still have that little bubble on their email app that says you have three thousand five hundred and seventy-nine unread messages in your, uh, in your inbox. And even that, although it’s not a notification, I think can cause anxiety and stress. The right way, 

[00:31:06] Amy Sandler: How do you get, can you get rid of that bubble? 

[00:31:08] Jason Rosoff: Oh yeah, you can. 

[00:31:10] Amy Sandler: Really? 

[00:31:10] Jason Rosoff: Yeah, it’s, if you’re using, um, a Mac or an Apple device. I know how to do it. If you’re using, uh, a, 

[00:31:18] Amy Sandler: Oh. 

[00:31:18] Jason Rosoff: Like an Android device or a Windows computer, I’m not sure.

[00:31:21] Amy Sandler: Well now this podcast is really adding value if you can get rid of that bubble for me. 

[00:31:24] Jason Rosoff: But if you go into the notification settings app inside the, uh, the notification section of the settings app in either your computer or your Apple device, in there, under the specific app, you can say, uh, I think they’re called, I can’t remember, there’s like a couple of different options, like do you allow sounds, do you allow banners, and do you allow notifications? And I think, uh, and maybe one other thing, like unread notification, unread icon or something like that, in there is where you’re going to turn that off. 

[00:31:56] And the reason why it is so important to turn it off is because the tax, the cost of cognitively switching back and forth between even making the decision, should I answer this question right now or should I wait until later to answer this question, even that stops us from being in the flow of the work that we are doing. And if you have the norms established, you can say, hey, like, I will, um, you know, I check Slack once an hour, uh, and I check email twice a day.

[00:32:29] Right? And that’s in accord, like, that’s in accordance with our norms, or that’s like the way that I, that’s the way that I work, and that works best for me, and then it’s really easy, because you can just, uh, you can turn off all of those notifications. And you just put a little reminder in your calendar that says check email now, or check Slack at the top of the hour, and for me, it’s like, I, because of my role, I have to be more proactive than that, meaning most of the time that I’m receiving communication, it is timely and, or urgent.

[00:32:59] Uh, or, uh, timely and important, like both, it usually qualifies, satisfies both of those. So when I, in my role, what I have to do is when I really want to focus is I have to block time on my calendar that says like this is focus time and I won’t be checking email or like looking at Slack during focus time.

[00:33:21] That is my approach. So for people who are, and that applies, this applies to a lot of managers, right? Because it’s tough if you’re a manager and someone on your team, is blocked on something that it actually is in your best interest and their best interest to stop what you’re doing, help them get unblocked, and then start your task back up again.

[00:33:42] Amy Sandler: Jason, based on that, um, because I don’t think we’ve had this exact conversation, I will put some things in Slack that are definitely not urgent, um, but might be more almost conversational or this thing happened or that thing happened. So does that, are there things that you would prefer that I do not put in Slack or that I should say, hey, this is really time sensitive or what phrases or, uh, kind of content guidance would you give to me as a direct report, given that you’ve got, you need some of that, uh, think time.

[00:34:19] Jason Rosoff: It is very rare that people are unclear with me when there’s something that urgently needs my attention. So I don’t think there’s any adjustment that you need to make to what you’re doing. I think the, um, I feel like I use my judgment of when I see something, if it’s sort of an FYI, if it’s time sensitive, it’s a task that I can come back to later.

[00:34:41] And whether or not I need to respond to it right away or not. And I think it’s really on me. It’s more like I should be soliciting feedback from you, which is, hey, do you feel like I’m using my judgment well in determining which of your messages need an immediate response? I would say like, in this case, the responsibility falls with me to make sure that I’m not missing something or responding too slowly to something. That you feel like needs a quicker response. 

[00:35:11] Amy Sandler: Gotcha. That’s really helpful. And then just to go back to Brandi’s situation and for folks listening who, you know, the team may be respectful. And even if you don’t have explicit norms, you figured out how people work together. But what about when you’re in a role where, whether it’s a marketing role or PR or client services of some sort, where you’re working with lots of folks who, uh, don’t necessarily have those norms and the event is the next day or, you know, there’s urgency and there’s ten emails associated with something that is, uh, external to your own kind of internal organization. 

[00:35:49] Jason Rosoff: Yeah, I think it is even more important internally to be clear about what the, what your expectations are if you’re in an external facing role. So that other people know what to do in the case that you’re not responding to something that seems very urgent. For example, like a client is reaching out to us and saying like, hey, you know, we haven’t received the contract for this event that’s happening next week. And can someone make sure to send that to me?

[00:36:15] Um, and the reason why the internal communication matters is if I went, so let’s say I was on the receiving end of that email and, and Nora is the person who’s typically doing those contracts. And I went to Nora’s calendar and it said she’s blocked out some time today to focus on finishing up a project that she’s been working on for the last couple of months.

[00:36:37] Instead of bothering Nora or trying to interrupt her, I would check with, uh, with Aaron who’s, who works with Nora on, uh, on the operations team and say like, hey, I see that Nora’s block some time today, there’s this urgent thing that’s come up. Uh, and can we get this done without interrupting her?

[00:36:56] That is, that’s why that internal agreement matters a lot, especially if you’re in an external facing role. But what I will say is we hear these kinds of questions fairly frequently in regards to Radical Candor. Like, can I practice Radical Candor with an external, with a client? And I think the answer is always yes.

[00:37:12] I think you can always communicate, like, hey, here are norms. So, and we’ve done this before. We’ve had clients who were like, email us late on a Friday, you know, nine PM pacific time on a Friday night. And then we’re hearing from them Saturday morning saying, hey, I didn’t hear anything back about my email.

[00:37:29] And we say, well, that was because our office is closed and it’s closed from, you know, five PM pacific time on Friday until, you know, eight AM pacific time on Monday. And I will say most of the time people are like, oh, I get, I get it. Yeah, that’s not a problem. I understand. And if someone pushes back really hard and says, well, this is what I need.

[00:37:51] That’s usually an opportunity for us to say, well, we can set some specific norms for this. It probably won’t include emailing on the weekend, but maybe there’s a way for us to more clearly communicate when something is urgent or when the deadline for something actually is so that we don’t miss, we don’t, we make the implicit explicit and we don’t miss your expectation simply because we didn’t know that there was, uh, that you had one in mind or that there was a deadline in mind for that thing.

[00:38:16] So almost always the way out of mismatched expectations is the same process of making the implicit assumptions explicit and there’s usually a way to come to some kind of agreement. 

[00:38:29] Amy Sandler: Now it’s time for our Radical Candor checklist and these are tips to start putting Radical Candor into practice right now. 

[00:38:37] Jason Rosoff: Tip number one, as a team and as an individual, you need to work to identify the essential communication apps that you need for your work. And then eliminate the rest of the nonsense. If it’s possible to send, just because it’s possible to send a notification through the charting app that you use, doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the best way to communicate. If the expectation is that this needs an immediate response, and the team norm is that things that need immediate responses go into Slack, put it into Slack.

[00:39:13] Uh, and it’s really important to set boundaries and establish designated times for checking and responding to messages that you receive in the communication apps that you agree to use rather than thinking the only way to do this is to be constantly available to all people at all times. And once you’ve established those norms, it’s really important in order to allow you to focus and to allow your team to focus to let people control their notifications, which in most cases means turning them off when they are focused working on other stuff.

[00:39:44] Amy Sandler: Tip number two, to make those norms more successful, talk to the folks you work most closely with, your team, and share how you like to use various communication tools, what works best for you. For you, what are your preferences. Knowing that that might be a little different than the overall norms. So for example, hey Jason, here’s how I’m using Slack with you. I would want to make sure that I hear back from you, you know, in the next day or so on this type of communication, how does that work for you? And again, the importance is to continually check in, see what’s working. See what could be improved. Some people might adapt their communication preferences over time.

[00:40:27] Jason Rosoff: And I think the point of all of this is baked into tip number three, which is we need to keep time in our calendars to think and focus on the work that matters the most. Even though it’s really tempting to tick off, to quickly respond to an email and feel like you’ve ticked that thing off your list, that’s probably not the most important work that you can be doing.

[00:40:52] So there’s a couple ways to do this. You can put sort of buffer time or slack time in your calendar if you want some time to, uh, where you need to think broadly about the work that you’re doing. Or you can put some focus time on your calendar, like in the example that we gave with Nora working on her project. Because if you’re not clear, if you don’t make time for the things that are most important for your top priorities, you’re never going to get to them. Email and Slack and Google Docs notifications will just eat up your whole day. 

[00:41:21] Amy Sandler: For more tips, go to We promise we won’t send you a notification, but if you do want to see the show notes, go on over to 

[00:41:35] As we like to say, praise in public, criticize in private. So please do rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’re enjoying the show and any criticism for us, go ahead. Email. We will welcome these emails and read them, we promise. Podcast@RadicalCandor. com. We really do appreciate your emails. We can’t say that strongly enough. Bye for now. 

[00:42:00] Jason Rosoff: Take care.

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The Radical Candor Podcast is based on the book Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

Radical Candor podcast

Episodes are written and produced by Brandi Neal with script editing by Amy Sandler. The show features Radical Candor co-founders Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff and is hosted by Amy Sandler. Nick Carissimi is our audio engineer.

The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.

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