Does Your Phone Control You?

Have you ever been meeting in someone’s office and had the phone ring? Do they turn away from their meeting with you to answer it? How about sitting around at the dinner table with the family. When the phone rings do you leave the family to answer the phone? In both of these situations, what do you think that says about priorities? Are you setting your priorities, or are the phone and the people calling?

Suckeled by the cell phoneAll too often when I am at one of my kid’s events I see parents spending the entire time on their cell phones. Now I am not talking about emergencies. We have all had those. I can vividly remember one of my son’s soccer games where I spent the entire game way off to the side talking to various technicians about problems with the network at my office. No, I am talking about the parents who spend the entire game talking about just junk and not watching their children play. And don’t think for a second that the kids don’t notice. They make a play, turn to the stands, and see that mom or dad is talking on the phone.

At work there are tons of distractions. But, when you schedule time with a colleague that is a reserved time that should only be interrupted for the most important of emergencies. By agreeing to the meeting you both have set aside that time to deal with whatever the agenda is. To have a member of that meeting turn away to answer either an unknown or trivial phone call is not only rude, it shows where on the rank of importance your meeting falls. It also implies that your time is of no value, because it can be wasted for whatever purpose.

I firmly believe that I schedule my priorities and that I should not let anyone else, by whatever means, rearrange those for me. If I am in a meeting with you, I do not answer the phone. In fact most of the time I will silence the ringer. Same goes for my son’s soccer game – I do not answer the phone while he is playing.

People often say to me, “I called you but you didn’t answer.” My response is, “I was busy right then, did you leave a message?” What kills me is when they say, “no, it wasn’t that important.” Well then why did you call?! And why would you expect me to interrupt something important that I was doing and that I had scheduled for something that, in your own words, “wasn’t that important”?

Remember, we all have control of our lives. We must, on a daily and hourly basis, exert that control or it will be taken away. Time is the only resource that we all, from richest to poorest, have in equal amounts. What you chose to do with that time is up to you. You control when you answer the phone and you control how interruptions affect your life.

Right? Wrong? Crazy? Am I so far off base here that I am in a different ballpark? Please let me know how you interact not only with your phone but with other people and their phones.