Telephone or e-mail

The productivity guru of the moment, Tim Ferriss, writes in his book how he was able to reduce the amount of e-mail received by setting up an autoresponder to tell that he only reads his e-mail once a day and that it is better to phone him for urgent matters.

I believe him, when he tells that this technique has reduced his e-mail load significantly. But what he doesn’t tell is what happened to the number of telephone conversations he received. In my case, I notice a clear increase in telephone calls when I am very busy and cannot answer e-mails within the usual 12 hours. And guess what, when I am very busy, the last thing I am waiting for are telephone calls! When somebody phones me, that person decides what I will be doing for the next two minutes and when I will give attention to him (now!), while with e-mail I am the one deciding who should get my attention and when.

Tim’s trick only works because his workload is very low. When you’re workload is higher and you need to spend more time in the zone, it makes more sense to change your voice mail message to tell people that you can only be reached by phone during one hour a day and that they get faster response when they send their inquiry by e-mail.

Jeroen Sangers @jeroensangers