It seems as though there’s a new theory on productivity hacks every single day. In a webinar by Todd Herman, he was saying that context switching (when you regularly put down one task to suddenly focus on another) takes 20% of our time and energy to recalibrate and get back on track. Twenty percent! Wow.

If your business doesn’t heavily rely on communications over the phone, have you thought about moving away from unscheduled calls to avoid unnecessary interruption?

The theory

As you’ll know, I believe multi-tasking is a modern-day myth. Besides, if my clients are paying for an hour of my time, and thinking back to Todd’s theory, would they also want to be charged an additional 20% every time I decided to switch focus, perhaps because of an uninterrupted call? I highly doubt it.

Having periods of deep focus and scheduling dedicated time for calls allows you to plan your day in advance. The head down time will ensure you’re giving full focus to the task at hand without your mind wandering or being easily distracted (see my post about managing social media distractions if that sounds like you).

What’s the alternative?

  1. Tell your clients of your availability to take calls.
  2. Change your voicemail message so that it explains you’re unavailable due to project work and then switch your phone off. Harsh, I know, but if you really don’t want the interruptions, you need to take action.
  3. Hire a call answering service or virtual receptionist. There are heaps of companies offering pay-as-you-go and monthly packages offering message and call forwarding options which are far more reasonable than I had ever expected. I have a company I refer clients to all the time – ping me a message if you’d like me to pass on the details.
  4. If the work you do isn’t at all time-sensitive, ask clients to pre-book calls using an online scheduler which shows availability in real-time. Calendly and Acuity are popular options.

Just make sure you tell people how they can get hold of you if there’s a mega-emergency – although I wouldn’t normally advocate a Plan B (because it tends to mean a lack of commitment to Plan A), in this case there really needs to be one.

Could avoiding unscheduled calls work within your business? If not, what productivity tips can you share? Please add your thoughts in the comments section.