This is another one of those time management techniques that is simple and obvious but is almost never done. It’s this: bunch your phone calls.
Go through your to-do list and pick out all the items that require a phone call. Then bunch those together, set aside an hour, and crank them all out, one at a time. Calling someone at 9:30am then stopping your work and calling someone else at 11:15am then stopping your work and calling someone else at 1:15pm then again at 2:30pm…that’s insane. No wonder you’re busting your ass and never getting any work done.
David Allen of GTD fame has suggested that you bunch your tasks not by priority, but by context. He’s half right. You should bunch them by context first, then by priority. So bunch your calls, prioritize them in order of importance, and crank away. Don’t stop until you’ve called everyone.
This is easier than it sounds, because statistically you’re only going to get a hold of one-third of the people you call. You’ll get voice mail on the other two-thirds. So if you have 15 calls to make, you’ll only end up talking to about five people. For all the rest, leave a message, and when they call back and leave YOU a message (fun isn’t it?), don’t just call them back instantly. Wait until tomorrow, bunch your calls again, and then call back during your “phone block” of time. Unless its some huge emergency of course (which it almost never is).