Long before I started both of my blogs, opened my eBay Store and established my Virtual Assistant business, my sister-in-law was a work-at-home mom. Always marching to the tune of a different drummer, SIL completed her undergraduate degree in her 30s; then her Master’s, and became a self-employed Graphic Designer.
My sister-in-law’s graphic design business became very successful, and she worked virtually 24-hours a day, and well into the wee hours of the morning. It was very common for family members and friends to feel it was OK to call her at any time, as she was “usually home.” It wasn’t until I started working at home that I realized how important it was to convey the message to family and friends that “working at home” is actually just that…Work. The setting may not be a traditional office setting, but nonetheless, one is still working. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind several factors to keep yourself focused rather than distracted.
No matter what type of online business you are in, or how you communicate, you will find there are a number of reasons that you will need to use a telephone. You may need to soothe clients who need to hear a real human voice or you might need to find a way to communicate with your colleagues that is more immediate than that of a simple e-mail or chat session. The problem is, however, that phone use, whether it is through a landline or through a cell phone, can cause you plenty of problems, especially if you let it get out of control.
For many of us, nothing is more simple or instinctive than calling someone up to chat. While we may want to keep it professional, there is a good chance that we will spend a lot longer on the phone than we thought we would, and before we know it, the day has sped by and our efficiency is shot. The work we intended (our intentions are always good in the beginning aren’t they?) to get done is being put off until later. Have you ever experienced this? This may be a sign that you need to think about your phone use and how it is affecting the bottom line in your business.
There are many tell tale signs that your phone calls are distracting you from your real work. One way to determine just how much affect phone usage has on the productivity of your business is to time your phone calls. How long are you spending on the phone? Keep in mind that when you get on the phone, you are breaking up your work. Once you finish the call and head back to the task at hand, time is also spent refocusing on what you were doing prior to the phone call. Put together all the time that is devoted to your phone calls during the course of the day, from getting the number, to talking on the phone, to getting back to work. The time that you spend “on the phone” just might surprise you.
Next, think about how often you actually take calls. Do you feel as though the number of calls that you are taking detracts from your ability to work, or do you feel as though it contributes? You may find that other phones ringing is enough to distract you, or that if the phone stays silent for too long that you get nervous or antsy. Any of these symptoms might be a sign that you need to form a plan to get out of this productivity killing dilemma.
All hope is not lost however, even if you live with your phone what seems like attached at your ear. In order to combat the time wasting telephone and start making your phone calls and in turn your other tasks productive for your business, try putting this practice into place.
Begin by setting up a rough call time limit based on your average call time. You will need to find out just how much time you spend on the phone using the steps mentioned above beforehand.
Next, make sure that you know what topics need to be discussed before you call anyone. This is an important way to make sure that your call is not out of control and lasting longer than it should. This step alone will make planning your time better and get more done during your work time.
Although it’s not always easy to determine when someone else will call, you can implement these same strategies for calls you receive. Screening calls will also help reduce or even diminish wasted talk time. Remember that your time is valuable and your business is important, so don’t let the telephone distract you anymore than you have to.