The One Time-Saving Phone Tip that Matters

voicemail productivity Jumpstart Monday | Get your week off to a great start with the Day-Timer blog. Each Monday we’re going to feature a new tip to help you gain a more productive week at work and at home.
Today’s tip: Make your voicemail matter

Voicemail has become a largely informal process that often becomes a productivity killer.

It would be comical if it weren’t such a waste of time – the long and rambling messages that monopolize your time.

There’s a better way to handle this and it starts with you.

Try This:

Give direction in your outbound greeting. Ask the Big Three questions: clear instructions as to what you want.

Imagine yourself taking notes during a call. First you would write down:

  1. Caller’s name? Surprisingly, people often forget the most important part.
  2. Phone number? Yes, it’s in your contact list but there’s typically multiple numbers.
  3. When to call back? Helps you determine urgency.

They should be able to get that done in 10 seconds. Now ask them to get to the point, please.

For example:

“Returning your call is important to me, so please start by leaving your name, phone number, and when to call you — and then briefly explain why you’re calling. Thanks.”

Here’s Why:

When reasons and expectations are left unexplained by the caller, it becomes impossible for you to determine the importance and timeframe for returning the call. That leaves you with only two options: dismiss the call or interrupt another priority.

Define your needs and you’ll save hours worth of time each month.

Remember too: When you leave a message, Use the Big Three and get to the point. It’ll save you time in the long run because they will be prepared for the conversation when they call you back.

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

[photo by CarbonNYC]