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January 26, 2010

Why quitting voicemail rocks

We interrupt the stream of daily asking to bring you an update.

I asked, several months ago, for people to stop leaving me messages.

Result: For the most part it's worked like a charm. I have been getting about 5 to 10 percent of the messages I used to, and I'm overjoyed by all the time that frees up.


1) I have wasted under 5 minutes in two months working my way through the endlessly inefficient voicemail system.

2) After an initial awkward adjustment period for friends and family ("You're what? Why!?? So annoying!") I think they've come around. It's effectively cutting out a middle man, so we're all more connected -- and happy. I think!?

3) People who are close to me have have stopped leaving messages entirely. Those who do leave messages are people who don't particularly care about my strange impulses anyway -- like my grandma. In other words, people I'd want to hear on my voicemail no matter what. Yay.

4) Friends are now texting more instead, which I appreciate. Faster and, for me at least, free. I hope text me costs less than calling me, for them.

Minus: Now when I see a missed call I feel more pressure to return it asap. I don't always, of course, but that thought is there. What if it's something important? Before, I could check my messages and do some triage before returning calls.

(But, as a plus to that minus, I've also gotten much more efficient with returning calls. A sample, authentic interaction from my day to day life: "Hi, I got a missed call from this number... Oh really? That's great!... Sorry, I need to keep this short because I'm about to meet someone, but what's up? Oh, sure, I'd love to meet you Ibiza next weekend. Let me check my calendar and get back to you. Baci!")

Another minus: I've been rushing to answer my phone if I think it's someone who wouldn't like my no-voicemail policy (and I cared). When I was looking to rent an office, the potential landlord called me back and I answered immediately even though it wasn't the most convenient time.

The next step: I'm actually wondering if I should stay off voicemail or go back.

What I want is to chuck it to the wind forever. But now that I'm starting this business, what if clients find that annoying?

Any thoughts? What would you do if you called a stranger you wanted to hire and heard, "Hello, you've reached La Roxy. I'm not checking messages, but I return every call I see on my caller ID. If it's urgent, please text me. Thank you!"

I could adjust it to say "for increased productivity I rarely check voicemail." Or, I could play around with google voice.

(In other news, I'm claiming Monday as a day off from asking. I had a great day: got great feedback on some work I turned in and fell asleep at 7 p.m. No time to ask between all that. But I thought I'd offer this update, to keep the ball rolling...)

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