What's Your Response Time?

How do you get any work done when the phone keeps ringing and the email alert dings every few minutes?

When I'm in the middle of an Excel programming project, I need to concentrate, or I lose time and momentum. To help reduce the distractions I turn off the email alerts and unplug the phone, then focus on the project for a few uninterrupted hours. It's amazing how much I can get done!

My clients know that I'm frequently unavailable, either out at meetings, or working away from the phone. If they leave a message or send an email, I'll respond within 24 hours. On those rare occasions that I'm away for a few days, I warn my clients in advance, and my voice mail gives my return date, so people know when to expect a reply.

In Take Back Your Life, Sally McGhee suggests adding a response time to your voice mail and your email signature.  You'll get more done because you can focus on your work, then respond to phone calls and emails once or twice during the day.

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5 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    When one of my coworkers was out of the office, he would change his voicemail to include the date.

    That way, the callers would know that he had actually checked his phone messages that morning.

  2. That’s a nice touch — and I haven’t heard anyone do that before. Too often I get the voice mail that says “I’m out of the office until the 10th,” and it’s already the 12th.

  3. Ken Puls says:

    I’ve personally never tried to record the date in my voicemail unless I’m going on vacation. I know I’m not disciplined enough to do it every day. And based on the messages I’ve left for people who forget to update theirs, I’d never live it down.

    I’m currently trying to block my mornings as “non-interrupt” time so that I can actually get work done. For someone who is a hard core email addict and loves instant notification, it’s a whole new discipline!

    I’m curious on the book… is it worth the read?

  4. Ken, I do the same with my phone message — no date unless I’ll be away for a few days.
    As for the book, it has some good info, but I decided to take back my life by not reading the whole thing. ;-) If you subscribe to Books 24×7, you can skim through a chapter there, and see if you’re interested.
    I found the Getting Things Done material easier to get through: http://is.gd/NU2

  5. Leslie says:

    LOVE the book. In fact, its in front of me right now.

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