Gaining Back Control of Your Time

I bet you have experienced a time when you just cannot get anything done because someone always bugs you on the phone, or knock on your door, when you try to get something done.

I know that feeling … I was one of those people who couldn’t do anything promptly because of constant interruption…. until I found out that turning my handphone silent while telling everyone to text you to be the answer🙂

I started turning my handphone on silent / vibrate mode when I was meeting with clients. But being the forgetful me, I often forgot to turn the ringer back on after the meeting was finished :-p

But then, I noticed that not picking up the phone (unless I am available to, or want to) brought positive changes in my life. I became a lot more efficient in my work. I could sit down and concentrate and actually got things done, much quicker.

At the beginning, my clients, colleagues and family members got frustrated with this habit of mine. They just couldn’t reach me whenever I was out of home or office. So I told them that if they need something from me (a question, message, whatever…), TEXT me!

Text messages truly empowers my life. It enables me to still know the important thing that’s going on at real time (unlike e-mail, that requires me to stop at some wi-fi cafe), BUT I respond to them at first convenience (instead of … ASAP, URGENT, NOW, YESTERDAY, buzzwords that clients alway imply on you). So, instead of being told by clients or even my boss on what to do and when to do it, I control my day and my priorities.

[disclaimer: DON’T EVER do this unless you know for sure what your clients’ work pace and culture are. I know each client inside out, and know if their “urgent” means urgent, or when their “ASAP” is just a bluff)

And the thing is … once my clients / colleagues / friends know about this habit of mine (I make sure I tell EVERYONE about texting instead of calling me), they’re actually fine with it!

By telling my clients and colleagues to text instead of calling me, they also stop nagging me for things that are unnecessary. Gone are the days when the client calls me to complain about minor semantic problems, the way my staff dresses, or where I bought my laptop. They call me only when they have a valid, urgent question – and e-mail or text me for the rest.

Also, when I am at the office, occasionally I would close my door and put up a sign “DO NOT DISTURB”. This means I want to be left alone to concentrate, usually because I’m racing against deadline for an important strategic document that requires much thought. Not only I put a “do not disturb” sign … I also unplug my office phone (I notify the operator about this, of course). This way, the only way for people to bug me is by SMS, knowing that I would also turn my handphone on silent mode.

And some people may wonder, “How come you’re never fired for doing this? You’re supposed to be responsive to client inquiries .. blah blah blah ….”

I guess the key is “education”. I make sure I let my boss, colleagues and clients know of this habit of mine, WHY I do it, and HOW it will positively affect the quality of my work. And I believe they do notice the difference in terms of sharper answers, quicker turnaround, prompt return of phonecalls with SOLUTIONS, instead of “Hello …. what was it you want to tell me????”

… otherwise they will petition for me to stop doing it, or fire me altogether😀

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