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Telephones are time wasters

I really don’t like phones.

In the office, no one ever called me to give me good news. It was always a problem, always urgent, and always my responsibility. Even when I got a cell phone for work, it was the same. It was always easier to call me than to take responsibility and fix it yourself.

Add the fact that I think cell phone carriers charge far too much and you can see why I dislike phones.

My basic cellphone is exactly that, a basic cellphone. Not a smartphone, not a fancy phone, it’s a really simple flip case Tracfone. By most American standards today, it’s barely usable. It does have two tremendous selling points. It’s dirt cheap and it works with a Bluetooth earpiece. All things considered and for no more than I use the phone, it costs about ten bucks a month. And with the earpiece it’s easy to use at a desk or in a work area without trying to cradle my phone or letting everyone around hear the conversation.

The secret that makes this work is Google Voice. Before I went freelance, my office had it’s own WiFi network. My house still does. So with the help of Penningworth my iPod touch, I’m ready to go. I can dial the number I want from my address book.

Google Voice does a couple of nice things. It will try to transcribe my voicemails, and it will let me download my voicemails as MP3 files. A little work in iTunes and BusyCal and everything is cross referenced.

Of course my Tracfone does do a couple of things. I have maybe 30 numbers put in broken into groups. I can tell if it’s family or friends calling by the tone. My work group has now become my active projects list and has it’s own ring tone. Anything else defaults to a boring phone ring and I screen my calls.

I don’t have Google Voice transmit my text messages to my phone. That means I have to be at home or in a trusted WiFi network to get my texts.

After a lot of mess and experimenting over the years, I’ve found that instant emails, messages, or texts are more than a distraction than anything else. So I make it a practice to only handle those things two or three times a day. I do the same with calls. When I’m working, I deal with those first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and sometimes after lunch if I feel like it.

If I am expecting a call back, I steal a page from Mackay. I give specific ten minute blocks when I can be reached. I offset these a bit. If it’s a after lunch call, I may say 1:22 to 1:32 or 4:35 to 4:45. And yes, you’d better believe I keep the call to under ten minutes. Five if possible.

If it’s a business call, I put it in the calendar just like I would a meeting. I even use the same template.

And yes, when I call for pizza, that goes in the calendar too.

Once I week I copy paste my texts and calls in my calendar. It doesn’t take long because there usually aren’t many.
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