That’s right, I actually threw my phone away, because I don’t have time to waste. With technology as advanced as it is today, I find it shocking that people still revert to something as inefficient and wasteful as phone calls. Perhaps I am biased, because my work requires a lot of focus, which is something I lack at the best of times. A stray phone call (such as those darn tele-sales companies my dear friends send my way) may last 2 minutes, but it distracts me for ten. Feeling a bit odd that I’m the only person on earth in my generation who does not have a phone, I did a bit of research and found out that I’m not the only person who hates phones. Another friend of mine makes it very clear that she does not want anyone to phone her and my neighbor just told me that she doesn’t like phones either.
No Focus – No Phone = Business?
Now you might wonder how I justify running a business if I don’t have a phone and here’s my answer:
1. I type for a living and that happens to be a very effective way to communicate.
2. I have unlimited access to fast internet, which offers many ways to communicate.
3. If I REALLY REALLY have to, I will do Skype calls, or get access to a phone.
But walk with me a moment and find out why I really dislike phones so much.
# 1 – Phone Calls Destroy Work Flow, Productivity
Imagine you’re busy on project A when client B calls to discuss something about a project that may or may not materials in another 6 months. I receive such inquiries daily. I also once worked for a guy who constantly squealed about lack of productivity, but his idea of managing workers was having constant meetings and, if they weren’t in his office, phone calls every 20 minutes.
According to The Wall Street Journal, frequent interruptions at work resulted in a 4% increase in backache and migraines, and a 9% higher exhaustion rate.
When client C phones to ask a question, I have to close my timer app, log out of client A’s work, and go through client C’s hundreds of emails to find the appropriate one. After the call, the process has to be reversed again, which means I have to reopen the 4 browser tabs I require for client’s A’s work and board my original train of thought, which might well have left the station.
# 2 – Phone Calls Cost More Than Just Your Phone Bill
Apart from ridiculous phone bills, phone calls also lead to existential overhead, which is the unquantifiable mental cost of distraction and stress. For me, a looming scheduled phone call renders me completely unable to concentrate on anything else. It sits there on my schedule, leering and reminding me that there is something I’m not able to tick off of my to to do list.
Unscheduled phone calls can interrupt your thoughts and result in forgotten, uncompleted tasks .
# 3 – Phone Calls Are Awkward for Both Parties
You can’t see one another, which is nice for people like me who dress casual to work and hardly ever wear make-up, but unfortunately, some clients want to do video calls, because they are uncomfortable with the lack of non-verbal cues of audio-only calls. Phone calls mean awkward silences and interruptions, whereas video calls also sometimes have awkward silences and the added weirdness of encroaching in one another’s physical space.
# 4 – Phone Calls Demand Chit Chat
Speaking of pet hates… I don’t do chit-chat. I’m strange, I’m socially awkward and that’s what makes me good at what I do. My mind is buzzing with concepts ranging from plumbing fixes to psychological concepts. From pipeline pigging to caring for newborns. From legal jargon to search engine optimization. From marketing to forklifts. The last thing I have wish to chat about is politics, shark slaying or GMOs. That’s why my rare off days are spent in companionable solitude with my family – I only speak Googlese, not chit-chat or gossip.
# 5 – Phone Calls Can’t Be Reviewed Later
Further to the above point and the ominously non-existing center of my mind, my memory is shocking for a young lady of – erhm – COUGH! – 21 years of age.
If you give me a list of things to do, or you tell me you want an article about this and that, throwing in some of something else, and conclude with X, Y, Z, I simply will not remember. On the off-chance that I write it down (which really is a waste of time – you probably have it written down on your side, and now I’m writing it down shorthand) and actually remember some of the points, I will probably not get it quite right.
Sending me an email with your request will be much more effective.
I’ve had a situation where a client asked me to edit 10, 000 meta tags (deliberately leaving out the fact that yes, it was 10, 000 cells down, but it was also 3 wide = 30, 000). When I presented her with the actual cost, she was highly annoyed.
See, when we discuss information via email, we are both clear on all aspects. Transparency leads to more productive, effective and long-term relationships.
# 6 – Phone Calls Demand Immediate Responses
I’ve had many potential clients phone me asking for a quote on “some articles”, “a book” or “a couple of blog posts” with no idea as to:
- how many articles?
how many words?
how many pages?
When asked, they would say “I don’t really know… maybe 500 pages, maybe 800… Just give me your best price!”. That’s not how it works though. If you have written a book, and every second sentence needs to be rewritten, it will take me very long to edit it. Likewise, if your book is very well written, I may charge you much more than I should telephonically, assuming that it will take and hour a page.
Tip: You’re NEVER going to get my best prices on the phone. Therefore, the immediate response is not always the best response (for you).
When you send me an email, I have time to mull it over, think it through carefully, and come back to you when I have the opportunity to give you my full attention.
How Do I Propose Doing Business Without a Phone?
To be pretty honest, in the almost 6 years I’ve had my business, I’ve only spoken to possibly 5% of all my clients telephonically. I’m not throwing my phone away because of my clients, but because of all the other calls that waste my time. This post is aimed at illustrating the fact that phone calls are a waste of time not only for me, but also for my clients.
I was on live chat yesterday when the operator insisted on my phone number, insisting that “Sometimes a quick phone call can achieve much more than to-ing and fro-ing via email for days” and if it weren’t for the fact that I knew I was dealing with a highly incompetent company already, I would’ve told her that therein lies the problem – an inability to compose effective emails. How do you do that? Keep your eyes peeled for my next post. 🙂
Thanks for reading this post. Do you love or hate phones? I’d love to read your perspective in comments below.