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Time management - The telephone part 2

The telephone part 2

The quiet time

This is a very popular idea and in practice very simple to implement.
You decide that there will be a set period in the day in which you will not be disturbed unless there is a dire emergency.

The same rules for screening any calls can be used with your assistant with greater emphasis being placed on deferring the call.

The time period is usually 1 hour but even 30 minutes would be extremely useful.
The power in this simple technique is to make sure the principle is adopted company wide and if not possible team wide.
The latter is less effective but will yield valuable quality time to get on with important tasks.

The quiet time means that everyone agrees to not contact each other (not only telephone calls but dropping in etc) for this period.

Internal and external:

This will largely apply to internal calls with the screening system coming into play for external calls.

Call back

Reserve a specific time for this activity in the day. Preferably late afternoon for a period of 1 hour.
If you have the luxury of an assistant get them to make the call for you. During this time you can be getting on with work.
Many people will not be around so the ‘call back’ to many people will fail. Leave a message saying that you will call back at the specific time when they are in.
The use of an answer phone allows messages to be left and you can tell if someone doesn’t get back to you.


Many telephone calls have a tendency to drift. A call that should have taken 2 or 3 minutes now takes 6 or 7 minutes.
A lot of time can be wasted.

How do you make calls brief and to the point without offending the person at the other end?

Some ways you may find useful are:


By this we mean don’t start off the conversation with social enquiries. “How was your holiday?” etc with a view to chatting for 5 minutes before getting down to business. This is hard as no one wants to be considered a robot with no social graces. However, if you are to the point in a polite manner it shouldn’t be a problem.


You know you need to get away but you’re not sure how to achieve it. One way is to drop a hint that the business of the call is virtually complete.

“I know you’re busy, so I won’t keep you much longer.”
“Just to summarise then.”
“Before you go…”


Refer to the time remaining for the call.

“In the remaining minute…?”
“I can just about give you another minute before I have to go to another meeting, I’m afraid.”

Truth or lie:

One way is to be a little blunt (OK amongst friends not VIP clients). Another way is to use an excuse that is often not entirely accurate(not recommended but a lot of people do it).

“Sorry, must dash…” “Unfortunately, I’ve just got to go.”
“Sorry, but I’ve just remembered…”

Non - PRINCE2 information