Business Proverbs

Six Rules to Maximize Your Cell Phone Productivity
by Steve Marr

Cell phones are a great tool for boosting personal productivity-keeping you in touch with customers, the office, and your family. Effective use of your cell phone will enhance your business, but poor habits can quickly become a trap. Follow these six basic rules and you'll enjoy the advantages of enhanced technology while avoiding the pitfalls:

Rule # 1: Control Your Calls

Don't be compulsive and answer every call, anywhere, anytime. "There is an appointed time for everything. And a time for every event under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NASB). Keep the phone turned off during family time and non-business hours to avoid losing your personal balance. Use voicemail, and return calls promptly at an appropriate time.

Rule # 2: Focus on Your Face-to-Face Customers

When you're with customers or colleagues, give them your undivided attention. Avoid answering incoming calls. Don't compromise a great sales presentation or other business interaction by being a slave to your cell phone. Remember, the person you are with is your most important customer at that moment. If you allow an interruption, it sends the wrong message. Jesus said, "Take care what you listen to" (Mark 4:24, NASB), so turn off your cell phone and listen carefully to the person across the table. Your voicemail will capture any important calls, and you can follow-up later when you can give the caller your full attention.

Rule # 3: Stay in Business Meetings

Never allow a call to interrupt a meeting. If the meeting is important enough to have on the schedule, it's important to keep every participant focused on the meeting, not the next phone call. King Solomon advised, "Do not turn to the right nor to the left" (Proverbs 4:27, NASB). Interruptions can disrupt the flow of an otherwise productive meeting, wasting time and causing everyone to lose their focus.

Rule # 4: Control Your Costs-and Be Considerate

Even the best calling plans cost money-and time. Be a good steward of your time, and the time of others, by keeping your calls on target. Don't make calls just because you have "free minutes" or free time. If there's little to discuss, don't make the call. What might be free time for you could undermine the productivity of the person receiving the call. Take the apostle Paul's advice: "Avoid ? empty chatter" (2 Timothy 2:16 NASB).

Rule # 5 Do One Thing at a Time

Don't engage in complex conversations while driving, or while doing anything else. Even if you can keep your car on the road, you can't give your customer or colleague your full attention and offer your best perspective if you are doing two things at once. I once drove past my freeway exit while engaged in a complicated conversation. Having to backtrack taught me to limit the length and complexity of my calls while driving. Paul wrote, "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things" (1 Corinthians 9:25 NASB). Exercise self-control with your cell phone-and keep your mind on the road.

Rule # 6 Keep Your Calls Private

When you talk on your cell phone in a public place, everyone within earshot is a potential eavesdropper. Worse yet, some cell phone users believe they need to shout to be heard. At best, talking loudly in restaurants, movie theaters, and other public places is rude, but it can also cost you money. I heard of a salesman once who was discussing a key customer bid by phone at a restaurant, while unbeknownst to him, a competitor was seated at the next table, overhearing his entire pricing strategy. King Solomon wrote, "The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded then the shouts of a ruler of fools" (Ecclesiastes 9:17, NIV). If you must take a call in a public place, excuse yourself and move to a private location.

Steve Marr is a business/ministry consultant and author of the book Business Proverbs. His daily radio feature, "Business Proverbs" is heard on 1,000 radio stations. He is the former CEO of the fourth largest import-export firm in the United States. Website:

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