Are unplanned phone calls interrupting your work?
In this series of videos, I’ve been talking about distractions or interruptions and how they reduce your productivity and prevent you from focusing on your most important work.
One of the most common distractions for lawyers is the telephone. I recommend that, whenever possible, you don’t take unplanned phone calls. Not only are they distractions, but by definition, if a call is unplanned, it means that you can’t prepare for it
Taking a telephone call on the fly when it isn’t an emergency and when you’re in the middle of something else makes it more likely that you will give the phone call short shrift. And if you are unprepared for the call, you may not have the information you need at your fingertips, necessitating a second call.
But when you schedule your phone calls, you have an opportunity to prepare: to review your notes, to research the potential client, to locate any resources or information you might need, and to ensure that you won’t be distracted during the meeting.
Here are three ways you can prevent unplanned phone calls:
1. Use an Online Calendar
First, use an online calendar for scheduling client meetings. Using a service like Calendly that allows clients and colleagues to choose a time when you are free and book an appointment on their own. Both parties will get an entry on their calendar and an email reminder about the meeting. You can set up different links for different purposes – for example, one link for potential new clients and another for existing clients, or links for meetings of different lengths and create customized follow-up and reminder messages. And you can choose when you will be available for those appointments.
2. Use Your Assistant
Second, route all telephone calls to your assistant and let them make the appointment for you. If you are a true solo and don’t have staff, I highly recommend getting an answering service – and there are several who cater specifically to law firms – so that your clients and potential clients get a live person on the phone when they call, and so that you are not constantly interrupted by the telephone. You can use the answering service to make appointments for initial client consultations or for return calls to existing clients.
3. Use Your Voicemail Message
Third, if calls do get through to you, use your voice mail message to let callers know when they can expect to receive a return call from you, or tell them to visit your website to make an appointment on your calendar.
If you want help managing distractions in your law firm, feel free to give me a call.
Want more information on how to be more productive?
- Are You Distracted at Work? Close Those Open Loops!
- Choosing the Right Time for Focused Work
- Are You the Source of Your Interruptions? [video]
- Sticking to Your Communications Policies [video]
- Stop Co-Worker Interruptions [video]
- Avoiding Unplanned Phone Calls [video]
- Handling Client Interruptions [video]
- Eliminate Interruptions: The Interruptions Log [video]
- Are You a Procrastinator? [video]
- How Do Habits Affect Your Productivity? [video]