I'm not sure how to say this politely, so I'm just going to say it. If you happen to have my IM information, I would really appreciate it if you didn't IM me randomly just to chat when my away message is up. Usually, the away message is up because I am working on something, and do not really wish to be disturbed except in the case of things that actually require my attention.
The little flashy icon distracts me, and my response is usually "Oh, for the love of Mike, what now?" But I feel constrained to answer. And I lose my train of thought and my focus, even if I only answer the message long enough to say "Sorry, I'm busy." Since it takes me a good ten or twenty minutes to settle into writing mode, and since there are about ten-fifteen people IMing me for pulse checks in any given day...
...well, you see the problem.
Admittedly, I could go invisible, but then I'm not easily available if I'm actually needed.
Anyway, for non-time-constrained things, email is *much* less likely to make me cranky.
NB: This request does not apply to situations where you actually, you know, need me.
Also, I'm going to be reading a lot less livejournal and probably answering comments less often, because I need to get off my ass and do some actual work. So, yanno, if you need me, post a comment or something. And if I don't answer it, it's not that I hate you. It's that I'm trying to focus on cleaning off my desk and there aren't enough weeks in 2006 for my purposes.
Thank you for your kindness.