Increasing Productivity By Scheduling Calls Through Email

If you want to achieve more in your life, both personally and professionally, it is absolutely critical that you focus on using your time in the most productive way possible.

On Feb 11th I wrote a post titled, Learn to Control Interruptions In my world, controlling interruptions is imperative as interruptions divert my attention and prevent me from getting my responsibilities completed in the time I have allocated. This is why I seldom answer unscheduled calls.

As a result of some of the suggestions readers shared with me in response to the controlling interruptions post, I started to pay closer attention to the number of unscheduled calls I receive in a day. What I was most interested in learning was the percentage of non-urgent unscheduled calls I receive.

What did I learn? 100% of the unscheduled calls I received were non-urgent. (I love my life).

I also started to pay attention to the number of times I interrupted people and reduced their productivity with my non-urgent calls. The sad truth is that almost all the calls I made were non-urgent calls that could have been previously scheduled and in most cases I ended up being put into their voicemail.

This all left me thinking. When you take 3 minutes to type a quick email to schedule a call with someone, you’re showing your respect for his or her time, while at the same time increasing your own productivity.

Now, I understand there are times when unscheduled calls are appropriate, but there are many times, especially in the business world, where scheduling your calls via email will save everyone time and allow everyone to be mentally prepared for the call.

Here are my suggestions:

1.  Use Email, NOT Text—You don’t want to schedule non-urgent calls via text, because if you send text messages you will be interrupting people with your text messages and then in turn they will be interrupting you with their replies. As I pointed out in Preferred Methods of Communication only 3% of business professionals prefer texting to other forms of communication.

2.  Keep The Email Short—If you want your email read without being skipped over, get to the point.

3.  Be Friendly—I always begin my emails with their name such as “Hi Pam” and something friendly, such as “I hope you enjoyed your weekend.” It takes just an extra few seconds to show an interest in people by addressing them by name and adding a personal comment.

4.  Always Explain The Purpose of The Call—Describe the reason for the call request. This allows them to determine where they can fit your call in their calendar based on their other priorities. It also helps them be mentally prepared for the call. It could be as simple as, “I want to chat briefly about the color of the widgets.”

5.  Tell Them How Much Time You Need—Tell them how much time you need and don’t underestimate it by saying, “This will only take five minutes.” Whatever amount of time you are requesting, you need to respect this time and conclude your call within that time period. By letting them know how much time you need, they can plan their schedule accordingly.

6.  Let Them Know Your Availability—Since you want to schedule the call during the windows of time you are available, be sure to include those times in your email. To save time and to give the person some flexibility, always offer a couple different windows of time when you will be available.

Here is an example, “I would like to schedule a 10 minute call to discuss the color of the widgets. Can you please let me know if you are available for a brief call Tuesday between 1:00-5:00 PM EST or Wednesday between 2:30-6:00 PM EST?

7.  Use Their Time Zone—When scheduling calls with people in different time zones, make it easy for them and use their time zone. Be sure to include the PST, MST, CST or EST after the times as shown above.

8.  Be Clear On Who is Initiating The Call—When you receive their reply, always respond and confirm the time and let them know you will be initiating the call. Tell them the number you will be calling, unless they tell you otherwise. I believe it is proper protocol for the person requesting a call to initiate the call.

If you are proficient in using email, this entire email exchange should not require more than three-five minutes of your time and it can be done during the blocks of time you have allocated to returning emails.

You will also find that if you schedule your calls through email, then the people you communicate with frequently will likely schedule their calls with you the same way and reduce the number of unscheduled calls you receive.

Bonus Tip: If you receive voicemails from people who want to talk with you about non-urgent subjects, you can either call them back when you are available or you can send them a short email with your availability to schedule a call. If you respond by email most people will quickly get the point that you prefer to schedule your calls via email.

I want to reinforce that this suggestion is for those of you in the business world who want to increase your productivity. Personal calls are obviously different.

Scheduling your calls in advance will make you more productive and show others you respect their time.

About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s daily lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are ranked #27 in America’s top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)

Related Posts:

49 Ways to Improve Your Email Brand

My Top Time Management Tip

My Second Best Time Management Tip

Learn to Control Interruptions

Preferred Methods of Communication

How to Put Together an Action Plan

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  • gladepoulsen

    Todd,
    You are absolutely spot on with regards to the uninterrupted calls being the largest distraction those of us face on a daily basis.

    The message is clear, concise and leaves no room for debate as to where you stand on this subject. I whole heartedly agree with you.

    Thanks,

    Glade Poulsen

  • Glade- What's up dog? I am so glad you are reading my blog and commenting. I appreciate you!

  • vickianzalone

    Hi Todd - For someone like me who works from home, this is my achilles heel...unscheduled calls. Its been a mindset change for me to really stick to my scheduled work time and not get distracted by family matters and other responsibilities. I outline my day the night before and try my hardest to keep to that schedule. Shawna and I were just discussing the current $$ value of our time. We were reminded of your story of the sticky note on your phone with your hourly wage in plain site ! I also think when you give the proper respect to the different responsiblities in our lives, we reap the rewards for that discipline both personally and professionally. Thanks again for another home run ! Vicki

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