This Is My Phone Policy

Published by unpopular demand.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

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.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

PR Resource: Pavlov’s Inbox

Pavlovs Inbox - Evil Robot Dog - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
“A man’s best friend” (Midjourney V4).

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 the types of emails you want by replying swiftly and doing as much work as possible.
  • You punish the types of emails you don’t want by politely pushing work back onto the sender.

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

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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