Taking back control over your phone

The type of phone call I usually get unannounced

Short of someone walking in to your house unannounced, answering a phone call is the most interruptive thing that can happen to you.

After a few years of being frustrated by unexpected interruptions, I came up with a few strategies for taking back control of my phone.

Have a separate number that does not ring

Use this separate number for official / public documents (like your Domain registrations). You risk losing your domain, or falling out of compliance with the government if they don’t have a way to contact you by phone. However, I’ve never had a situation where a state government or the IRS doesn’t leave a message or also send a letter.

Telemarketers on the other hand often don’t leave a message. Sending all callers to this number straight to voicemail means you can screen the requests for your time on your own time.

I set this up with Google Voice and forward the voicemails to my email.

Schedule calls with people

On your personal number, don’t answer numbers you don’t recognize and schedule calls with people so that if someone does call you from a different number you know it’s probably them.

At least with my phone, if it is face up on my desk with the sound off, the screen lights up with a call, I look at the clock and if I remember that I’m supposed to talk with someone then I pick it up. Or I ignore the call.

Leave your phone on silent

My opinion: Your phone should be on silent all the time except when you’re expecting a call. No buzzing for notifications. No dinging every time you get a message. And no ringing when someone gives you a call. The exception here is if you have a scheduled call and want to make sure you hear it. But, after you take the call turn the notifications back off. Do Not Disturb is a common feature on devices now. Leave it on.

Schedule the Do Not Disturb feature of your phone.

If you can’t imagine turning those dopamine filled dings off permanently, how about at least when you’re trying to rest. Try 9pm — 9am. Chances are you check your phone early in the morning after you get up. Do you really need it to be dinging at you if you decide to sleep in?

Make it silent

What’s my phone workflow?

  • I never answer the phone unless it is a scheduled call or from a family member.
  • Almost all phone calls go to voice mail.
  • Then I read the transcript that google voice creates. If I can’t figure out the message, I’ll listen to the audio.
  • Then I decide whether or not I want to call back.

That’s it. More focused time for me and fewer interruptions during the day.