Sometime during the last couple of years, and perhaps propelled by the pandemic, we started scheduling every phone call we intended to make. "Hey, can I have five minutes of your time" is now a back-and-forth email until a time slot is agreed upon by both parties. Future time is carved up and reserved for the express purpose of the phone call. The amount of time spent scheduling is equal to, if not greater than, the actual time to be spent on the call.
The mental strain in knowing that the day awaits when the call will come, that the reserved time must remain fixed on the calendar at all costs. We schedule so many calls now that our schedule is booked. We're too busy this week, how does next week look? Next month? Tools have arisen to help us schedule more calls. Here's a link, you pick a time, my head hurts.
Shit, something came up, so sorry, can we do tomorrow instead?
But there is an alternative to this scheduling dystopia: just stop. But, how, you ask? Below, is my two step life hack for ending the madness.
- Just write. Put text in the body of an email. Think through your thoughts, your questions. Then send. Your recipient will respond, when it works best for them.
- Just call. Sometimes a call is better. So call. Pick up the phone, dial a number, and say some words aloud. You probably could have avoided this if you stuck to step 1, but, on rare occasions, words aloud are better than text.
Will you miss calls? Yes. What if you don't want to answer? Don't. Keep a call list. Once a day go for a walk and start calling people back. Other person isn't there? Try tomorrow or revert to step 1.
*Email is a skill. Practice sending better email instead of more email. And use a tool like hey.com to surface the most important email and respond once or twice a day in bulk.
Finally: Close your phone. Close your inbox. Just work.