The lost art of calling people – rethinking time spent on the phone

I was sitting in a presentation a while ago, given by an old school mate. The audience was primarily Start-Up founders.

My mate knew our previous business well and during a Q&A at the conclusion, he unexpectedly turned one of the questions over to me.

Someone from the audience asked what the key was to actually making stuff happen in order to grow a business from scratch and most importantly, how to start getting revenue in the door.

Apart from this opening up my sweat glands and thinking “Well actually, pure desperation to pay the bills!”, what ended up coming out of my mouth, got me thinking.

On the night, I responded by saying that in our case, we had simply picked up the phone and talked. Granted, we had to do this a lot of times to achieve some success, however that was and continues to be key.

Whilst the answer related to business in that specific situation, I wondered about some other areas of life where actually picking up the phone to use it as a traditional phone and not just staring at it to retrieve emails, check a fact, take a picture etc, might be worth the effort also.

So I’m doing my best with the following, to pick up the phone and actually dial it.

With any hint that something isn’t quite right with my body/ mind or that of a family member (or even pet!), I make myself call the doc, specialist (or vet!), and lock in a time.

Keeping in touch with Family
Although there are lots of ways to keep in touch, hearing a person’s voice at the end of the phone (video), can be comforting, is ‘usually’ received gratefully and can be a nice surprise.

Keeping in touch with Friends – Sport & Catch ups
So many times I’ve found myself saying to a friend, we must catch up or we must have a game of tennis sometime or whatever. I do mean it. However I don’t always get around to it. So I’m trying to do better by picking up the phone and saying hey, let’s do this and lock it in. It works.  If I can’t make it last minute also for whatever reason, I do my best to call vs text.

Hopefully these don’t happen too often, but texting back and forth or trying to resolve something slightly heated on email, doesn’t seem to work best for me. The phone on the other hand, has resolved these things in seconds.

Work, looking for a Job/Project
With two degrees of separation it seems these days, it’s not too difficult to get straight to the source, if you really want to.

An area that I’ve never shied away from, if I’ve been looking for a job/project, looking for a sale, looking for a new staff member or wanting someone’s opinion, is that I’ll aim to find out who’s best to speak with, pick up the phone and ideally go as high up the chain as possible. You just can’t beat it.

In fairness, often a person hasn’t taken my call or returned multiple messages. I just think that it wasn’t right and they weren’t the right person to do business with in life at that moment.

There have also been many times when a person has called for a job. It’s not often that there has been something going, but with an attitude that can be bothered to call, I’ll always think then and there about who else might be in the market. If I receive an email about the same thing, I’m less inclined, as unfortunately it’s too easy to mark it Unread and get to it ‘later’.

 Returning messages – always
If I get a message/voicemail, I always do my best to return it (as long as it’s not a call centre from afar, telling me I have an issue with my computer). If I don’t, that person will remember that. You just never know who is going to be on the other end of the phone and what it might lead to.

The biggest of them all! It can be never-ending. Nowadays there seems to be expectation of an immediate response. It’s unreal but it’s fact.

Often, if an email trail is developing/going around in circles or possibly an email might have been misconstrued or you’re on the run and need an answer now, picking up the phone and dialing is surely a better way to be able to move onto the next thing.

There must be countless other occasions in life right now where it’s a good option to use the phone for talking vs straining my neck to look at a screen and scroll.

As an added bonus, it gives a good excuse to stop and look up to see what’s going on out there.

Here’s to talking more to get stuff done!

Good luck and thanks to Alexander Graham Bell.

Photo by Can Ahtam on Unsplash

Subject: A reminder to myself

To: Me
From: Me

Subject: A reminder to myself
April 2018

Dear Me – it was good to have some downtime over the Easter break, to reflect on life today and where it’s going. The days, weeks & now months are flying by and as usual it’s a topic that so many people make mention of.

It feels like time to reflect and form a checklist to refer back to, for whenever I question where it’s all going. For many, many years, I have by default embraced life as if driving along the road, even if not the main road that most people travel.

Every so often, I check in with the rear view mirror of life, to make sure that I’m taking it all in, then quickly return to the road ahead.

So, to make sure I don’t get caught up on a ring road and in some life ‘loop’, here’s my checklist to check in with every 1st of the month.

Read this over to myself every month and decide how I’m going and tweak as necessary.  Remind myself that I’m no expert, don’t profess to be one and be sure to keep my eyes on the road ahead.

Don’t be so hard on myself – I’m human, I don’t know all of the answers, but I’m doing my best. Stop often and reflect. Don’t compare so much and definitely, do not engage in being sucked in by what I may see around me and in particular, on some social media channels – for the most part, remember that it’s a filtered life that I’m seeing of others, of all of their best bits. Don’t waste my time and don’t be fooled.
Do I feel that on balance, I’m doing ok?

Smile & say Hi more – Think about how great it feels to smile. Whether it’s wandering around work, watching our kids play sport, walking down the street, or even when I’m standing waiting at the crossing. It makes me feel good and it seems to make other people who glance at you feel good too. Think about how people feel when they look across at the lights and see a happy person – maybe it changes their outlook on today. That’s really pretty cool.
Am I doing this in every situation possible?

Lock in Daily Exercise – it’s a meeting with myself and I should do all that I can to make it happen. I never seem to regret exercise after the fact, unless of course I get an injury! So push on through, keep making it habit and involve my wife, kids or mates wherever possible too. Multi-task it.
Am I in a good habit phase at the moment?

Learn to Breath – whether it’s taking in the early morning air on a walk, calming myself before take-off, centering myself in the lead-up to an important presentation, thinking about how to resolve a dispute of some kind or recovering from some tough exercise; remember how much of a positive impact this has had on life.
Am I consciously practising this, rather than letting my mind leap to conclusions before they’ve happened?

Full Health Check – every 6 months, around my birthday and then halfway between. Being proactive on this one minimises anxiety.
When was the last time I went to the doc and did this?

Compete in an event or group activity – get it in my diary. Look for an chose a 5km run, schedule in the next triathlon season, say Yes to a Mountain Biking trip with mates and kids and get back into regular tennis matches with mates. It’s good to compete again and remember that feeling of being a kid. Actually what’s really great is the kids seeing me compete.
What is scheduled in and how far in advance am I looking?

Learn More – listen to more Audio Books & podcasts! Take notes on my phone under various headings where possible as I listen. (Life, Work/Bizo, Family & Friends, Other).
When did I last listen to something?

Keep filling in the Dreams Book – one of the best presents ever from my wife (Actually if I’m honest, the best presents in my life full-stop have been from my wife): A 101 Dreams Book. I’m now up to about #49 and I think that the time is right where some dots are being drawn between some far flung entries. There is a theme – all of them focus on how to make life better for others, which in turn will impact our own lives.
Am I listening to those recurring themes and what am I doing about furthering those?

Ask myself ‘Am I doing what I truly want to be doing?’ – Look in the mirror, and see if the answer is “Yes, exactly what I’m doing in all areas of life” or if it waivers from that.
Refer back to my Dreams book and ask if any great life ideas’ time has come?

Create better, new reference points – plan more experiences in advance. Always, always have something to look forward to, no matter how small. Remember how experiences help stop the life loop. Rather than having no tangible reference points because every day it feels like kids, work, demands, grocery shopping, tiredness, kids, work, again…
Have I booked in the next family holiday, a dinner with mates, a family get-together, a new weekend activity for the fam?

Recognise & Celebrate the Wins, no matter how small – we sold our business a couple of years ago. I have still not celebrated this. How silly. It was no excuse to say that we sold it one day and carried on working alongside the new owners the next day. There is no one else to blame but me. Celebrate everything or the moment passes. Absolutely celebrate every birthday, even if it feels like they roll around so frequently that others won’t be interested in celebrating with you. Rubbish.
What have I celebrated recently and what’s on the horizon?

‘Do I/we really need this?’ – before buying whatever it is, ask myself this question. Better yet, have your kids also begin to do the same. Sometimes though, you know what, do just do it!
Do I feel guilty about buying something recently and is that justified?  

Don’t walk past a mistake – I can’t remember where this came from. It must have been school, however it has stuck with me and I know when I’m not practising this. It’s not nice. Whether it’s helping someone in the street, spending an extra minute speaking with someone at a function that I may not really want to do but feel compelled that they just need someone to talk to, or maybe it’s even stopping to pick up some rubbish that’s blowing in the wind and put it in the nearest bin. Don’t always think someone else will pick up the pieces – actually it’s my job too.
Am I practising this?

Listen more (& try to put the phone down) – ditto for the above. Just do more of it. People appreciate it. Yep, time is precious, but what’s not say the best use of it is not to just stop and listen.
Am I giving each person I’m with, the respect they deserve by stopping, listening and waiting to reply?  Have I been putting down the phone when with mates and also once home, giving the family the attention that they deserve?

Wake up, look out the window and say thanks everyday – no matter what the weather, no matter what happened yesterday and no matter what I have planned for today, even if it makes me anxious for some reason. Express gratitude for what I have and the ability to work on the things that I don’t have, but would like, or those things I know that I can do better. There are a lot of good things in life, no matter how small. They add up.
Did I do that today?

Keep reminding myself that I’m only a youngster in the scheme of things – yep, sometimes I feel knackered and catch myself complaining (or worst yet, groaning!). Sometimes my body creaks. Sometimes I feel like it is one step forward and one sideways and even backwards. Life is like that. No big deal. The reality is that in today’s life & lifestyle, at 45, I’m only just nearing halfway.
Have I spent anytime, wasting time thinking that I’m in any way old?

Be 100% Me Always, but… – no matter what, make sure that I’m being me. Don’t wear a mask but don’t also get walked on by people taking advantage. Think about those uncomfortable times where I feel that I need to be a slightly different version of me. Do my best not to relinquish me. If it’s happening a lot, then reassess and maybe get out of the looped situation that’s being presented or actually just be me rather than the another me, then the anxiety may dissipate. Maybe it even means reassessing who friends are and the social situations that we find ourselves in.
Have I been 100% me?  Am I proud of the 100% me and could I have done something different to ensure that I maximised a situation rather than gave in too easily due to politeness?  

Be vulnerable & be ready to ask for help if I think that I need it – remember that I can’t do life all alone and I’m extremely lucky to have people who care. However, be sure to remind myself that it’s important to check in with a mate or someone I trust, regularly.
Am I ok or do I need to ask for help?

Phone (or text) a friend – have a think right now. Someone out there that I know, possibly needs to know that someone is thinking of them, right now. Once a week, randomly text or better yet call an old mate or family member, to just say hey. It’s my paying it forward and it can make a massive difference to lives at a time when someone really needs it or even if all’s well, hey I’ve reconnected with someone that I care about. Send good wishes out of the blue. There is no need to expect anything back. It will happen.
Who have I contacted this week?

Be Disciplined – there are plenty of ways to have fun, but what is watching reality shows or spending time on social media reading about filtered lives, actually adding to life….or is it wasting life? Imagine what I could do with that time….spending time interacting more with the kids, planning a new business, joining some dots, making a difference in people’s lives, planning a family trip, organising that elusive filing, writing a blog…I can do better. Always ask, ‘Am I making the best use of Now?’ Put down the phone and watch life in 3-D, not 2-D or even 1-D.
Am I proud of how I’m spending time?

Put health & family first, always – yep, work takes up a large part of each day, but is it my rock? What revolves around what? Yesterday can never be reclaimed. Try my best to be where I’m expected to be, when it matters and ensure that I’m as fit & healthy as I should be.
Have I been asking myself everyday, if there is more that I can be doing to make my wife, kids and extended family & friends, have a great life?

Think about My Obituary – Keep living life and working on what I’d be proud of it saying at the end of a happy & healthy life, way, way in the distance.
What tweaks can I make to life today to shape this?

My Checklist – 

Don’t be so hard on myself

Smile & say Hi more

Lock in Daily Exercise

Learn to Breath

Full Health Check

Compete in an event or group activity

Learn More

Keep filling in that Dreams Book

Ask myself ‘Am I doing what I truly want to be doing?’

Create better, new reference points

Recognise & Celebrate the Wins, no matter how small

‘Do I/we really need this?’

Don’t walk past a mistake

Listen more (& try to put the phone down)

Wake up, look out the window and say thanks everyday

Keep reminding myself that I’m only a youngster in the scheme of things

Be 100% Me Always, but…

Be vulnerable & be ready to ask for help if I think that I need it

Phone (or text) a friend

Be Disciplined

Put health & family first, always

Think about My Obituary

Roger that, Co-Pilot.

Richard Poole – LinkedIn