Take Control of Your Phone Calls and Voice Mails!

Your work is piling up … everyone wants something different from you … you don’t know how you can possibly do it all and make everyone happy. A majority of the people who don’t have enough time to get things done at work aren’t slow or lazy but rather they aren’t managing their time properly.

Phone calls and voice mail can be two of the biggest time wasters you have to deal with every day. While it would be hard to imagine an office without phones, there are probably days you’d like to try. Cell phones and voice mail have added to the problem by making you “reachable” 24/7.

Responding to phone calls as you receive them:

  • Just because the phone is ringing does not mean that you have to answer it. (Disclaimer: This obviously depends on your job; for example, it would not apply to a customer service representative.)
  • If allowed, screen your calls and return them at a designated time. If you have Caller ID, this can help you determine the urgency of picking up the call.
  • Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” if possible when you are concentrating on a specific task to avoid interruptions. If that is not an available option, turn the ringer volume down.

Making and returning calls:

  • Block certain times of the day to make outgoing calls or return messages
  • Man wearing white shirt shouting into phone in an officeBe sure you call at the best time to catch the person you need to speak to. If you do leave a message, be brief and to the point.
  • Offer your e-mail address as an option to respond instead of calling you back
  • If you are unable to reach someone, try calling first thing in the morning, over lunch or after hours. A lot of companies have an “after-hours” system that allows you to enter a person’s extension directly.
  • Don’t call during “peak” meeting times, typically from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. or 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
  • Plan ahead so you know everything you need to say or ask. When checking your voice mail, take good notes.

Sometimes a phone call may not be the best way to reach someone. Always consider if the information can be relayed in an e-mail. As with voice mail, keep your e-mails brief and to the point and provide a time frame for when you need the information.

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