Capitalize on Call Avoidance

This may sound familiar… You need to make a phone call, yet are dreading the possible response. As you are dialing, you hope and pray that the other person won’t pick up –  wouldn’t it be great if you could just leave a message and avoid the whole conversation?

Now, you can!  I recently found out about a new free service offered by Boston-based MobileSphere which helps the more passive aggressive of us to avoid those unwanted responses and sticky conversations. Users can just call 267-SLYDIAL (267-759-3425) followed by any US mobile number – their call will go directly to the recipient’s voicemail.

Though the incoming call is supposed to go undetected, some users have reported that the receiving phone will ring once. (But don’t worry, when the phone is picked up, the line goes dead.) The receiver’s phone will then register that a voice mail message has been received.

This neat service can give the user a tremendous sense of power and control at a time when information overload and hyperconnectivity are considered a normal part of life.

(And anyway… shouldn’t we all be allowed a little avoidance every now and then?)

It is also easy to see how the Slydial service can make its way into the business world. Just imagine the possibilities…

  • You can set up an appointment with someone and skip the awkward or time-consuming small talk.

  • Cancel a meeting with a client or co-worker or call in sick to work without having to delve into the details of your excuse.

  • Discretely contact potential clients or co-workers at a time when you know they are busy.

  • Convey a difficult message to an upset customer while still being personal.

Have any other creative ideas? Post in comments…

Beating the Procrastination Beast

There are many issues that can hold people back in life and at work. Problems that are often discussed include lack of skills, brains, social aptitude, and organization. As detrimental as these issues can be, there is a greater evil waiting in the dark corners of the office (and at home): the Procrastination Beast.

There are many methods of conquering this sly creature and, in order to trick the Procrastination Beast, it is often best to combine and switch methods. Here are some tacticts.

Guerrilla Warfare.

One tactic which is almost always helpful is to literally hide. Turn off your cell phone, don’t check your email and close the door to your office (if you have one). If you are in a cubicle, you can make use of a Do Not Disturb sign. This method overlaps with the stick method, because it means you don’t get to turn on your phone/facebook/whatever until you finish working.

You can also work on a different project you have been procrastinating as a method of appeasing the Beast. At least that way you get something done.

A third guerrilla tactic is to do something marginally useful, not at all related to what you are procrastinating, and to tell yourself that at specific benchmarks in that project, you’ll take a few chips out of the project which the Beast is guarding. Because you are busy with something, the Beast isn’t paying close attention and won’t notice if you make a quick, short attack.

The Carrot.

Reward yourself! There are 2 main methods of doing this. The pre-reward and the post-reward.

The pre-reward only works if you are intellectually honest and/or come from a guilt-ridden culture (Judaism, Catholocism, etc). In this scenario, you get yourself the prize (chocolate, playstation, blackberry, new book, etc.) and possibly even use it, and then you HAVE to do the work you have been pushing off.

The post-reward system is more conventional. Basically, you make an agreement with yourself that IF you do the work by such and such a time, THEN you get X, Y, or Z (or all of them). It is very important that the “such and such a time” part is in the contract. The procrastination beast is very, very clever and will continue procrastinating until it hits a deadline. The hope is that the deadline will electrocute the beast.

The Stick.

Now, unless you are into that sort of thing, you don’t actually beat yourself with a stick. And, come to think of it, that might not work as a deterrent if you are into it.

This method only works if you are intellectually honest. The stick is representative of punishment. Basically, you set a time by which point you must have started working in earnest. If you haven’t started working by then, then you don’t get to go on your date Friday night (this only works if you actually want to go). It is best to set multiple benchmarks, to help keep your momentum until you actually finish the project.

Now some might say that the “stick” is naturally in place at work: If you don’t do your work, you get fired. However, that is a very theoretical stick with lots of holes and very dependent on the mood of everyone involved, and what their lawyers let them do. If you know that you will conscientiously use the stick when needed, then it works much better to have a specific punishment goading you along.

Fight on, valiant knights!


How to find time to get a life

Over Stressed?  Over Worked?  NO VACATIONS???
Time is valuable.  Time isn’t just money, it is your life

When you are working 70-80 hours per week and don’t take a vacation, then you aren’t running your business… your business is running you. Being overworked make you less effective in the long run.

A new business will inevitably require a lot of your work, and you are vital as the owner.  However, there should reach a point – sooner rather than later – that you should be able to step back a bit and have some time to yourself (and your family.)
Here are some tips for any small business owner (restaurant, salon, mechanic, grocer, fashion – you name it) on how to have a life AND a business:

**  Keep specific hours:  If you need to, you can give yourself one exception per week.  Be realistic when setting your hours, so that you CAN actually keep to them.  In addition to making sure you aren’t TOO overworked, adhering to set working hours makes it easier for the other people in your life to make their schedules, too.

**  Be inaccessable to people other than your clients/customers and your employees. Vendors and Sales people should not get your time, request all offers in writing so you can skim them over in your free time (bathroom reading, anyone?)

**  Keep all meetings/interviews to a set time, and never go over.  If it looks like it’s going over, schedule a follow-up meeting.  Don’t let your schedule get out of sync.  This will help motivate you (and the other party) to stay on topic.  In my experience, meetings that last over an hour rarely stay on topic.

**  Don’t Hoard Paperwork.  Set aside time daily to review paperwork.  For each piece of mail, decide: act/file/trash.

**  Delegate.  Most small business owners are scared of delegating – conquer the fear!  A quick way to shave off of your working hours is to hire an assistant for adminstrative work (if you haven’t already).  Depending on the amount of paperwork/record keeping in your business, you might just need someone to put in a few hours a week. If you think about it, you will realize, that a lot of the work is repetative and could even be done by a talented High School student looking for some extra cash.