About 6 months ago I was experiencing something I’m sure most entrepreneurs (or really, anyone with a busy life) experiences: the full voicemail inbox. Having to check voicemail was a pretty constant theme in my life – scrambling for a pen to write a number down or not recognizing the voice on the other end and being confused. I resented seeing an unknown number call and knowing that when I ignored it, they were going to leave a voice message I had to check.
I know this seems like a massive “First-world-problem” but I was literally finding it draining and exhausting having people expect me to be available all the time. Here are my problems with voicemail:
- When people left me voicemails, if I didn’t reply the next day, they would call back saying “I left you a voicemail yesterday – did you not get it?”. The whole pattern of people calling, leaving messages, and wanting a return call immediately, was proving to drive me insane. I wanted some “off time”. I wanted to reply to people on my own schedule.
- Usually if someone leaves you a voicemail, if you e-mail them back, they are not happy. They expect a call back.
- If you do call someone back you never know how long that call is going to be. Even if they say they just need a quick 2 minutes, it may end up being half an hour. For someone who charges for their time, this is not something that works for me.
- I prefer having calls scheduled. If everyone could just call me at random all the time I probably wouldn’t be able to get anything done during the day. Random phone calls disrupt my productivity and off-time.
- Having a full voicemail inbox was leaving this burning feeling in my gut – even if I want to ignore the messages for the day and relax, I know I should check all the messages because then nobody else can leave me messages. It is a vicious cycle.
- Voicemail was invented before e-mail (1970s). It just makes sense that if you call someone and they don’t pick up, you send them an e-mail that can be as long and clear as you want 🙂
I’ve never had an issue with turning off the internet – being away from Facebook for a day is like heaven to me since my business is Facebook 24/7. I love curling up in bed for the day with a good book, or Netflix. I can ignore notifications. For some reason the general public has grown to expect there to be some delay when it comes to e-mail – there is a “Get back to me later” feel to them. There is even an automatic “Follow-up” label in my gmail that serves this very purpose. So when e-mails come in and I’m relaxing, I have no problem getting back to them when I decide it is my work time.
I actually got rid of my voicemail accidentally – it wasn’t by choice. I got a new phone a couple months ago, and I had to reload my voicemail settings and I decided to give myself a vacation from voicemail for a week. It was the best week! I saw people calling and actually chose if I wanted to answer or not, knowing that if I didn’t pick up, they wouldn’t leave a message. I truly feel as though if someone wants to get in touch with me, they can e-mail me – it is the new standard of communication. I can read an e-mail title and gauge for myself it’s level of importance in my day. It gives me control.
After a week of no voicemail, I decided that it was a change I should stick with. I left it completely off. A few people called me and then e-mailed me saying “Hey, your voicemail isn’t working!” which I think is a bit ironic… but I simply let them know they could reach me by e-mail whenever they wanted to.
The last few months have actually been incredible – I’ve managed to take full days off, and the only time I’ve been spending with the phone to my ear has been for scheduled calls, or for family. It has been one of the best changes for my business and for my general well-being.
Anyway, let me know if you make this change too! And if you ever want to e-mail me to discuss… firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂