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When you can't ignore the phone...

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  • When you can't ignore the phone...

    OK I'm brand new here and am desperate for a way to organize my job. This place looks promising.
    But here's my dilemma: although in management/admin, I am also a veterinarian. I can NEVER ignore my phone because it could be a medical emergency, and that emergency can change the course of my whole day in a heartbeat. So there is no "hold my calls" available for me.
    Of course, not all calls are emergencies....some are time-wasters..('')

    I also have no dedicated secretary who can screen for me.
    You all need to rearrange schedules at times. How do you suggest handling this problem?[/b]

  • #2
    Re: When you can't ignore the phone...


    Your problem as I understand it :
    • 1. Must: always answer to a medical emergency
      2. Must: emergencies can't be on hold.
      3. Hi want: do my regular management/admin tasks efficiently (for which I can get calls too)
      4. Want : avoid time-wasters calls ('')
      5. Want : minimize rearranging schedules

    a) You have another screening option:
    • Answering machine, even when you are here. With some message alike:

      "Hello, you've called Beresford. I am operating now. If I am in a position to hear you, I'll take the phone. If not I'll call you back within 15 minutes if your call is for an emergency. In all cases, tell me what you need from me, when (and which phone) you want I call you back. Thanks. "
      Of course if it is an emergency you take the phone immediately, the" what you need from me?" is usually a pretty good filter with talkative persons.

    b) For your regular management/admin tasks , lessen the risk of bad phone interrupts during the day:
    • Call or meet persons with whom you interact beginning of the day, to prevent as much as possible their surprise calls during the day.
      Prefer a written communication system for work, (mail or notes). So you keep the initiative of calling if needed,
      Apply the 2 minutes rule; "Hello? Jim! I won't have more than 2 minutes now: will it be enough for you? ..well then we can set a phone appointment later in the day? ... thanks !"
    c) To minimize rearranging schedules
    • Preserve some lag in your schedules. Say, if in august your emergencies raise abour 15% of your time, plan your week about 85% full load. If no ermergencies it will be bonus.
      If you very often have to rearrange schedules without a dedicated secretary, think of a dynamic scheduler : Above & Beyond ( is the best I know for personal use.
      Have people that work with you have an access to your last updated schedule, without bothering you by a disturbing phone.
      If you can afford it, put a cost on people who want your time immediateley, regardless of what you planned : higher fare ? some negative consequence ?
    • when someone (work) calls you and spread his lengthy "Blah blah ", lend him one ear whilst with the other eye you screen on your lists all open loops this person currently have with you : "Oh Jim, I'm glad you call me : where are you on this ? When on that ? And that other ?". If people get accustomed to this habit of yours, they'll probably note waste much longer your time with those phones,


    • #3
      You might also want to check with your phone company and see what services they offer that might help in your situation. I just found out I can actually screen my calls when someone is leaving me a message on my voice-mail. If it is something urgent, I'll break into the call . if not, I just let them leave a message .. (the person who is calling can't tell whether I am screening their call or not).


      • #4
        Another thing you could do is to get a pager for emergency calls .. just have your answering service/message machine answer and on the message, give your pager # for people to call in case of a real emergency.

        Also .. if you really wanted, you could have a real answering service (ie with a real human being answering) to screen your calls ..


        • #5
          You could also say

          "If this is a medical emergency, press one. For all other calls, listen carefully to our... "