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Time management - The telphone part 1

The telphone part 1

Alexander bell has a lot to answer for. The little ring at the corner of he desk cries out to be answered.
It’s just a box of electronics and yet it can have a mysterious hold over us, why?

The need to pick it up

It must be important:

For some reason we believe that the call must be important. Is it more important than the task you are working on?
It is hard to ignore the phone and not answer it, particularly if you work in an open plan area. If it is important won’t they ring back later?

Must please someone:

We don’t want to upset the person on the other end of the line. Especially if it happens to be the boss.

Information addicts:

There is a great desire to know what is happening. We don’t want to answer the telephone but we desperately want to know who was on the telephone and what that person wanted.

Centre of attention:

Someone wants to talk to us, they need our opinion and our help. Perhaps only we can provide that this panders to our own sense of worth and makes us the centre of attention. It is hard to resist this feeling of importance.

Sociable behaviour:

We like to talk to people, get the gossip and generally find out what is going on. This sort of chat could escalate in a situation where a company is going through a bad time and redundancies are in the air.

If there is an edict that you must answer the telephone at all costs make sure the burden doesn’t always fall on you. If this is the case, try to discuss the problem with someone.


The current task seems like walking through treacle, it is hard going. You long for a break but feel you must carry on. the telephone call can feel like a merciful release. It becomes your excuse to have a break.

Basically you need a plan to resist the urge to answer the call.



You will need to take control and stop the majority of calls reaching you. The best way to do this is to have an assistant to do this for you.
Handled correctly it can be very effective. You will need to agree criteria with your assistant for incoming calls.


Decide which calls should be put through, for example, family emergencies, the boss, VIP clients etc.
Having established this system return all calls at a specific time during the day, at your convenience.

Deal with it

If the assistant can deal with it then allow them to do so.

Refer to another

If your assistant is aware of the project or circumstances they may be able to refer the matter to a third party.

Make an appointment / postpone

Ask if they would like to make an appointment or phone back later. They will need to ask for details of name, topic, brief summary Of the reason for the call and how long it is likely to take.

Put them through to the boss

If all else fails put them through.

No assistant:

If you are relying on yourself, you may need to purchase an answer machine. Even for this, ask for name, purpose and number. Share answering the telephone with a colleague. Use electronic methods to interrupt the call. Just use a flashing light and avoid eye contact. Work in the absence of telephones.


Much easier to receive with out interruption and deal with at your leisure. They usually contain all the information required to deal with the problem.

Non - PRINCE2 information