publication date: Aug 12, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
Smartphones are a great help - until they hinder us by
interrupting meetings, interfering with personal contact and taking over our
lives. But Time Management Ninja Craig Darrow
pushes back with a list of
tips for using your phone ("smart" or otherwise) efficiently, professionally
and politely. Here they are, for the benefit of that annoying colleague who
just hasn't caught on yet.
When to call
Call when something is important, he urges. "Don't send me
an email when something is on fire." If you can see people in person by walking
down the hall, though, drop the call in favour of a face-to-face conversation.
If you don't get an immediate answer, live with it. "Don't
knock twice" by calling again within a short time, or by calling the desk phone
as well as the mobile, Darrow advises.
Don't call when an email will do the job - for example,
simple questions that don't need an immediate answer. Match your means of
communication with the issue's priority.
When to answer
You don't have to answer that phone if you're doing
something important, highly time-sensitive, or with others. That's why we have
And answering your phone while you're in the bathroom? Don't even
consider it. Use the "off" switch or "airplane" mode when appropriate. You
won't miss anything that you can't pick up later.
Don't be afraid to separate yourself from your phone
altogether, or to ask others to do the same. Meetings are more productive,
Jarrow claims, if you confiscate phones at the door.
Restaurants and movie
theatres are other no-go phone zones. But if you must take a call in public, he
says, display your good manners and take it outside.
Making the most of
"If you don't leave a message, you didn't call," Jarrow
declares. Issues important enough to call about, are important enough to describe
in a concise, coherent message.
Keep your own voicemail greeting up-to-date and personal,
and check for messages regularly. Feel free to respond by email or text message
if that's more effective than phoning, and claim the right not to call at all
if there's no reason to do so.
Working the bells and
"Vibrate" and "silent" aren't the same function. A vibrating
phone sitting on the meeting table makes noise. And the zig-zag dance across
the table strengthens the bad impression.
Phones are for calling, first and foremost. Use them for
email only when you have no other alternative to handle an important matter.
don't Google everything that comes up in conversation, he pleads. "You are just
interrupting the thing we call ‘life.'"
Etiquette and good
A smartphone lets you take a conference call anywhere, but
that doesn't mean you should. You don't want colleagues to hear your Starbucks
order, your child's knock-knock joke or the latest sports score. Pay attention from
beginning to end, and make sure there are no distracting background noises.
"Texting while driving is stupid," Jarrow declares. In many
places, it's also illegal. Same goes for talking while driving. Get a headset.
Finally, pop music ringtones are for teenagers. With this
and every one of Jarrow's suggestions, it's all about looking and being
professional. Smartphones are, after all, a professional tool. It's time to use
them that way.