Modern Conveniences? I don’t think so.

Today I dialed a wrong number.  I know it was a wrong number because the name on the voicemail didn’t match the person I was looking for.  So I hung up.

Little did I know that simple action was going to create a series of inconveniences that would take up a good 15 minutes of my day.  Well, probably an hour and fifteen minutes since I’m now writing here about it.

Later in the day I was on the phone and my call waiting went off.  Usually I turn this service off.  It’s annoying to have conversations interrupted with beeps, and I like to live in the moment, enjoying my current conversation, not the next one.  But I had turned it back on a few days ago when I was expecting an important call and hadn’t changed it.

So, I acted as if the call hadn’t happened, and let the caller go to voicemail.  When I completed my call I then checked my voicemail.  There was a message from “Stephanie” who stated that she was returning my call.  I didn’t remember calling a Stephanie, so I called her back.

When I returned the call to Stephanie it took a few minutes for us each to realize that she saw my number on her caller ID, and knew that I had called.  So she spent time returning a wrong number…then I spent time listening to her voicemail and returning that wrong number again (and now I’m spending time writing about it).

Seems to me that if someone places a call to you and doesn’t leave a message, it’s because they don’t want you to call back.  So why do it?

It seems like technologies that are supposed to make our lives easier don’t always do so…but it’s not the technology that’s the issue, it’s the person’s interpretation or use of the technology.

Caller ID is so you can know who is calling and decide whether to take the call, not so you can call back people who don’t leave messages, or return calls from people without listening to your voicemail.

Email is for fast sending of a message.  It doesn’t ensure fast reading or response.

The same applies to instant messages.

It may sound like I’m ranting here, but these things eat up hours of valuable time from us.  Email should be a tool we use, not a chain that binds us to our desk.

Develop a business practice that manages the effects of instant communication.  For me, I work for at least one hour each morning before I open an instant messenger.  I don’t even communication with my business partner at that time, and instant message is our primary communications method.  After the one hour mark, sometimes more, I open my messengers, check my emails for the first time, and check the overnight sales :)

I also only answer the phone if it’s my business partner.  All other people go to voicemail, and I return those calls once (sometimes twice) a day.

With this method I find I accomplish more, and I’m not a slave to my technological conveniences.

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