Part Two: The Telephone
The telephone can be the biggest time waster. For some reason whenever we get going on a project, the telephone will ring, and before you realize it several hours have passed and you are no further ahead on the project. If we let it, the telephone will control our jobs! Here’s a few ideas on how to stop the problem.
1. Group Calls that you need to make and do them all at once. If you place all the calls you need to make on your “To Do” list, you can make them in a bunch. I am a very productive between 9AM and 11AM, so I try to make all my morning calls between 11AM and 12:00 Noon. In the afternoon, I try to return all calls between 4PM and 5PM so that I never leave work without returning all calls. Grouping them really makes this task easier.
2. Plan your calls. Have a pen, paper, and a clock near the phone. Quickly, before you make the call, outline the points that you need to make during the call. And with pen and paper handy, you’re ready to make any necessary notes.
3. Avoid “Telephonitis.” When you make a call, GET TO THE POINT. Avoid too excessive an exchange of pleasantries. Keep your voice inflection one of immediacy. End the conversation in a timely manner. If the other party is a talker, arrange an interruption, tell them you have another commitment and if neces_sary “hang up on yourself.”
4. Leave specific messages. In radio, people like record reps and program sales people will call many times a week. I always try to give specific messages when I talk to them, and when I return their calls. A simple, “I will NOT add your record”, or “I am NOT interested in your countdown show” will stop the calls. The worst mistake a young programmer can make is to say “maybe”, that will only insure call after call until you finally say “NO”. My advise, tell them “NO” the first call! When you initiate a call always leave a message with the receptionist. Tell her not only the message, but when you will be available for a return call.
5. Avoid telephone tag. One of the problems of our business is telephone tag, returning call after call to another person and never connecting. I always leave a time when I will make myself available and leave that time with the message.