Don’t answer unexpected phone calls
If you call me and you’re not my mom or my wife, I’m not gonna answer your call.
Exception: I will if we’ve scheduled a phone meeting for that time.
I learned this lesson reading a book on productivity, and this one has saved me TONS of frustration and time. At the time of learning this, I had just started a small business doing web design and digital marketing. I got calls from clients ALL the time. I was always distracted and interrupted, and my life didn’t feel like it was mine.
I was afraid that I’d miss out on a sale or some important info or that something would fall apart if I didn’t answer. These fears were bullshit. The truth was if someone really needed to talk with me, they’d leave a message. I didn’t have to stop what I was doing to give my precious attention to them. In fact, someone tried calling me just now as I was writing this. Did I answer? Hell no.
This little change gave me so much control. I was no longer blindsided by the demands of others; I no longer offered up my time to be sacrificed on the altar of whatever so-and-so wanted, neeeeeeeeeded, to talk about.
I could listen to the message, gauge the urgency, and then respond when it was convenient for me. If the person wasn’t available, I left a message with a time when I would be available or told them to email me if that was appropriate.
How you do it
Someone calls your phone.
You don’t answer and let it go to voicemail.
Return that call if you want to, when you want to.
3.b If you get their voicemail, leave a message with a time they should call you back.
Heads up: This may be hard for you at first. Just do it. The world will be OK if you don’t answer. Nothing will blow up.
The benefit to you
You’ll have so much more uninterrupted time. You’ll feel more in control. If you’re in sales or self-employed, you’re likely to get MORE business because you’re suddenly perceived as a scarce resource, not someone at the beck and call of your clients.
You’ll also notice:
No more tyranny of the urgent
Attention is a scarce resource. It’s precious, and you must guard it. We’re wired to be distracted—to pay attention to the fleeting things moving away from us and around us.
You’ve got to do whatever you can to increase focus and the quality of the current moment and decrease distractions.
The lizard brain (your brain stem) fears the loss of missing out on what’s on the other side of that phone call, but the lizard brain can be a groveling bitch. When you say “no”—and not answering a call is a micro-way of saying “no”—you take control and seize power. You’ll freakin’ love this as you start to do it.
What you’ll learn tomorrow: The power of positive affirmation
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