This Is My Phone Policy

Published by unpopular demand.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Yes, I have a phone policy.

When I went to school, my his­tory teach­er once caught me check­ing my phone dur­ing class. He asked me what all slaves through­out his­tory had in common.

That someone owned them,” I sug­ges­ted.
“That they were always avail­able,” he said.

I’ve since grown to appre­ci­ate his point.

Slaves dragging a block of stone - Phone Policy
AI art. Prompt: “Slaves drag­ging a block of stone, visu­al art, highly detailed.”

When it comes to media chan­nels, we all have our favour­ites. For me, my phone has nev­er been one of them.

I wrote a phone policy to keep the chan­nel in check (and stay free from slavery). 

Here’s goes:

Phone Policy: Do Not Answer When

These are the situ­ations when I’m not going to answer my phone:

  • When I’m with friends and family.
  • When I’m in traffic.
  • When I’m think­ing about import­ant things.
  • When I’m in a meeting.
  • When I’m writ­ing or creating.
  • When I’m sleep­ing (or hav­ing sex).
  • When I’m at the gym.
  • When I’m in the bathroom. 
  • When I’m doing house­work (laun­dry, cook­ing, clean­ing etc.)
  • When I’m med­it­at­ing or image stream­ing.
  • When I’m listen­ing to music (or dancing).
  • When I’m eating.
  • When I’m watch­ing Twin Peaks.
  • When I’m watch­ing Star Wars.
  • When I’m gro­cery shopping.
  • When I’m spend­ing time in nature with my cam­era.
  • When I’m drop­ping off or pick­ing up my son at kindergarten.
  • When the caller ID isn’t already in my phone book.
  • When I don’t feel like talk­ing on the phone.

Phone Policy: Do Answer When

These are the situ­ations when I will answer the phone:

  • When I’m close to my phone when it rings, none of the above scen­ari­os applies, and the phone num­ber belongs to someone I genu­inely feel like talk­ing to.
  • When there’s a call from my son’s kindergarten.
  • When wifey calls.
  • When the call is scheduled.

Phone Policy: Reply To Text Messages

Luckily, my boss says that being avail­able for unsched­uled phone calls is not part of my job descrip­tion. 1My boss? That would be me.

Is there a poten­tial crisis?
Send me a text message:

Jerry. Code red. Can you make your­self avail­able for a quick call?”

If you’re my cli­ent and send me a text like that, I’ll be in DEFCON 1.

Still, I’ve got­ten the occa­sion­al snarky remark due to this phone policy:

Jerry. I called you but did­n’t answer, so I took my busi­ness elsewhere.”

Not a problem.

We should­n’t work togeth­er if someone thinks my expert­ise is eas­ily replaced. There’s no rela­tion­ship, no foundation. 

It’s a pre­sumptive prob­lem that sorts itself out, one could say.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Pavlov’s Inbox

Pavlovs Inbox - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Good boy. (Photo: @jerrysilfwer)

Pavlov’s Inbox

Pavlov’s Inbox is an email sys­tem built around the idea that your inbox prob­lems can­not be solved by more effi­ciently pro­cessing email (e.g. Inbox Zero and sim­il­ar sys­tems). Such sys­tems will only reward unfa­vour­able sender behaviours.

Pavlov’s Inbox sys­tem assumes that you can influ­ence the beha­viours of those send­ing you emails — through conditioning.

  • You reward email senders you favour by reply­ing swiftly and doing as much work as possible.
  • You pun­ish email senders you loathe by politely push­ing work back to where it came from.

Pavlov’s Inbox sys­tem is based on psy­cho­lo­gic­al ideas on how to reward and pun­ish email beha­viours in a socially viable man­ner (being rude as “pun­ish­ment” might only be det­ri­ment­al to your pro­fes­sion­al repu­ta­tion).

The oper­at­ing prin­ciple of Pavlov’s Inbox is to a) reward favour­able types of emails by min­im­ising the amount of work required by the sender and b) pun­ish unfa­vour­able emails by max­im­ising the amount of work required by the sender.

Read more: Pavlov’s Inbox: The Psychological Way to Tame Your Email

1 My boss? That would be me.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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