The productivity hack that helps me win the day, every day

My clients and friends laugh about it. Sometimes they get pissed about it.

I’m talking about my penchant for not answering the phone during the work day.

It’s not that I’m ignoring their calls (most times).  It’s that I usually don’t even have my phone on or nearby while I’m working.

It’s a proactive productivity hack that keeps me focused and on track every single day.

I used to be that guy who answered phones and responded to emails as they came in throughout the day. And you know what? I got nothing done.

By responding to the real time fire hose of communications that came into me every minute, I found it almost impossible to start projects … or finish them.

After years of this madness, I decided enough was enough, and started batching the times at which I check my emails and my voicemails/calls.

Here’s why I did it.

Most Calls Were Non-Emergency

After analyzing my incoming calls, I found that most of them were either non-emergency “checking in” calls, or really non-emergency “chew the fat” calls. Further, when there was an actual emergency, the phone call was accompanied by an email and even a text message (which pops up in a notification on my laptop.)

I’d Rather be Prepared

For those calls for which my client or colleague had a question, I usually had to call them back once I investigated the answer.  That meant that two calls were necessary.  By allowing them to leave a voicemail first, I could listen to their question, investigate, and call them back (or email them — even better!) with an answer. It saves considerable time.

Workflow is Imperative

Much of my day is spent writing.  It’s hard to get a good flow if you have to keep starting and stopping to answer calls or emails. My clients want my best work, and they want it fast. My working to cut down on calls with them, it’s allowing me to serve them better by providing them a better product.

So, to all of you clients and colleagues who joke about me never answering the phone, or seem offended by it — I hope you understand.

This phone habit has stuck for the past several years, and it’s allowed me to get more done, be more productive, be happier and serve my clients better each day, every day.