You can cut down the amount of time wasted on the telephone by avoiding being placed on hold. If someone is unavailable right away, find out the best time to call back, or leave your number. If you need to make regular calls, try to schedule them in advance according to mutually agreed times.
If a receptionist, secretary or assistant answers your incoming calls, train them to screen calls and refer them to others. Have your staff take messages for you when you do not want to be disturbed, and try to delegate returning some of the phone calls to others.
If you take the call, let the caller know your time constraints. Always keep a pen and pad by the phone. If you get a call asking for information you don’t have immediately to hand, don’t look for it: arrange to call back later.
You can reduce cellphone interruptions by not giving the number out to too many people, and not including it on your [tag]business[/tag] card or e-mail signature, unless it really is too difficult to reach you by other means.
Avoid taking business calls on your carphone. Any time you think you are saving by driving and talking at the same time will evaporate if you become distracted enough to miss a turn or a highway exit. Even more is lost by having to reconstruct the call later, or perhaps repeating much of the same conversation, because you were unable to take notes during the original call.
Most people keep their e-mail programs open and running all day long and are alerted to incoming messages. In addition, a recent study found that 75% of these people would cease other activity to take care of incoming e-mail.
This is highly disruptive and prevents you from being truly efficient. Researchers asked the study group to refrain from handling each incoming e-mail as it arrived; instead, they were allowed to read and answer new e-mails only five times a day. The efficiency level of this group increased by 35%.
Turn off your incoming e-mail alert, therefore, and open your e-mail only at regular intervals. Do not let e-mails dictate what your working days should look like.
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