Friday, July 02, 2010

GTOW (Geek tip of the week)

My tip this week is "handle your phone like a geek".

If you are still paying for long distance and actually find the phone book useful - this is for you.  It will require some serious paradigm shifting though.

First of all - phone stress and how to deal with it.  If you get so many calls that it makes you crazy or if you check your v-mail more than a chain smoker coughs it's time for an intervention.  STOP the INSANITY!  Stop checking your v-mail.  That's step one.  Step two - if you don't recognize the number, let it go to v-mail.  Even better - learn how to instantly send those calls to v-mail and stop your phone from ringing. 

V-mail rules. 1) Check your v-mail no more than twice a day.  When you do - handle the whole inbox in a batch.  2) Never return a call that just asks you to call back.  3) Return calls asking for your expertise no earlier than 24 hours later. 4) Your immediate family, closest 2 friends and your boss are/can be exempt from these rules. 

How does this work?  If you are getting enough calls to make you crazy - you are either a Paris Hilton wannabe, a bad manager that doesn't trust your employees or an overprotective parent.  If you are a consultant / sole proprietor answering your business line, it's time to outsource your phone calls to an assistant or answering service. This isn't as expensive as you think.  In fact if you are in this boat - go read "The 4 Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss.  It will revolutionize your thinking.

Rule 1 sets it up so that you batch process your messages.  You set aside time to return calls and don't let them interrupt or rule your day.  If you have a call that meets rule #3 - put the callback reminder into your calendar for the next day as you process the calls.  Call back the ones from yesterday with this batch.  If you already use an assistant or service - call them at pre-arranged times only.  This makes the best use of your time and insures they are prepared for you.

Rule 2 - If all they do is ask you to call back it's not important / urgent.  They don't need an answer and often just want to talk.  The people in rule #4 are usually the biggest offenders.  Call them when you have time to waste.  Co-workers that do this are simply self important douchebags. They are the same ones that always use the speaker phone.  Your time is too valuable - if it is truly important they will call back and leave a real message.

Rule 3 - This may be the hardest.  The truth is that people are good problem solvers but they are also lazy and impatient. This rule takes advantage of those tendancies.  Most people will try asking an "expert" for help first. i.e. getting someone else to solve the problem (you).  When that fails to work immediately they will call someone else or finally work to solve the problem themselves.  If the latter is the case then they will have educated themselves in a way that they will no longer need to call you for that problem.  When you call back the next day they will appreciate that you called but 99.999% of the time the problem will have been resolved.  Managers: If you have the right people working for you - there is no such thing as an emergency.  Let your people do their jobs and stop being the mother hen.  Parents:  You will need to wean the kids.  Start by taking an hour to call back - then three etc.  If you aren't instantly available all the time, the kids will learn to plan ahead and have their ducks in a row when they do call.

Next - the only people that actually pay for long distance service are medium to large business and anyone that still wishes they could go back to rotary dial phones.   If this is you - call your local cable company or any of hundreds of VO/IP providers like Vonage.  (tip: Magic Jack sucks and is not what you want).  Better yet - get an all inclusive cell plan and ditch the land line / home phone altogether.

Even if you are a small business - call the cable company or your ISP and talk about phone service.  Normally one flat rate will get you all the services you have now plus long distance and Internet service - and probably more. 

Lastly - I cannot recommend Google Voice highly enough.  Now that it's open to the general public go sign up and take advantage.  I won't attempt to list the possibilities as they are nearly endless.   Personally I give out my GV number to everyone - only certain circles of people know my direct cell number.  I use it exclusively as my voice mail and take advantage of the automatic transcription feature all the time.  I hate nothing more than re-playing a message over and over trying to get one chunk of information.  Having GV route calls is also a godsend.   If you have an Android based phone GV is wonderfully integrated.

That's it for this week.   Sorry it took till Friday.  Have a safe holiday!

Posted via email from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

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