Posts Tagged ‘workplace’

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The Fading Away of Voicemail

January 12, 2015

I am old enough to have seen the rise, and now the fall, of voicemail. In 1994 I was the technology specialist at a brand-new middle school in Chapel Hill, and part of my technology orientation for the faculty was teaching them how to set up voicemail on their phone extensions. This was a big deal for us–my previous school had no voicemail system and about four phones for the whole staff to share. I know that technologically, 1994 is eons ago–every student file in that entire school fit on three 1GB servers, and a fourth server ran both the media center catalog and our internal email. Yup, in 1994 we didn’t have Internet email. We could not send messages to another school, or to the central office. We also had to choose whether to buy teacher laptops with color screens or black and white, and whether to buy desktops with or without CD-ROM drives.

Today I read this article about Coca-Cola’s decision to shut down its voicemail system. I first noticed this trend about two years ago. While I was teaching a workshop at a Silicon Valley hard-drive company, a participant mentioned in passing that he got about one voicemail message a week. I asked others in the room if that resonated with their experience, and they all said yes. One manager said, “I’ve gone from 5-10 messages a day, to maybe one or two a week.” The drivers: email, text, and smartphones. By comparison, voicemail is inefficient.

Coke’s decision will probably accelerate this trend, which was impossible to imagine in 1994. The only catch I see is that, unless the company is providing the phone and data package, we’re moving the cost of voicemail accessibility from the company to the employee. But no one will have to figure out how to create and modify the dreaded voicemail message.

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Limited Email: Day 1

March 29, 2007

I did all right. No shakes or anything. I removed the alert for my work email, which popped up in front of whatever I was working on. Now I go to Outlook on the hour.

There was a drawback. A colleague wanted to know the conference call number and access code, but I did not read her message until the meeting was starting. She'd had to get the info from someone else. I like getting back to people quickly.

I told a friend tonight of my new attempt to limit email checking, and she looked like I'd asked her for a kidney. It's powerful, this instinct to be on top of the email. It's not just the Pavlovian reaction to that ding, it's the time it takes to get back on track with the work you were doing before the ding. It's a productivity killer.

The music was an easier change. The jazz and classical was fantastic to listen to. It definitely helped me focus more than if I'd listened to NPR.

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Limiting Multi-tasking

March 28, 2007

I just read this NY Times article and it's helped me confront my bad work habits. The article says we're not as good at multi-tasking as we think we are–even youngsters raised in the digital age. A one-second distraction at 60 mph is not a good thing. I never talk without my hands-free kit, but I will try to limit calls as I drive.

I am going to try two new habits: I am going to check email only on the hour (I'm using my new OneAlert software I got when I purchased MyLifeOrganized–more about that gem later!), and I am going to switch my radio from NPR to either jazz or classical and see if either helps me focus better as I work. Right now I've got the jazz on and it's fantastic for this time of night. OneAlert will make a lovely owl hoot on the hour; how did they know the owl is one of my favorite animals? Let's see how this goes.

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