Inspired by MG Siegler’s “I’m Quitting Email” diatribe, although this is a post I’ve been meaning to write for quite a while. I was going to save it for my personal blog, but hey, if MG’s allowed to rant about his ongoing struggles with his email inbox here on TechCrunch, I should be allowed to inform you of my loathing of phone calls as well.
And as an added bonus, I can now easily point back to this post for anyone who pings me and asks for a “quick – 2-minutes tops, I swear – phone call” in the future.
Needless to say, of course I’m not actually quitting phone calls under any circumstances. In fact, my family and friends can rest assured that I’ll still be reachable on my mobile phone 24/7 – for better or worse.
But barring some absolutely necessary phone calls – which will boil down to only a couple per month, if that – all voice-based communication for professional purposes is out of the question, including Skype, Viber, mobile and landline calls. You can call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure it will be awesome, although, to be fair, it’s a fairly easy decision for me to make.
I’m based in Europe, while more than 90 percent of my conversations with entrepreneurs, investors, coworkers and other people I communicate with for doing my job are based in the U.S., so naturally most of my work involves email (which I don’t hate), instant messaging and other forms of digital communication not involving me having to call someone or pick up the phone.
I’m also not a native English speaker, so it’s usually in the best interest of the other party not to have me misunderstand or misinterpret anything he or she says on the phone. I speak many languages, but even in my native tongue I still prefer to get emails in order not to get things mixed up.
Apart from the difference in timezones and linguistic objections, there are three main factors that have convinced me to stop having work-related voice conversations altogether.
1) Hello? Interruptions kill my productivity
At least as far as I’m concerned. You see, in my experience, you can’t be a good tech blogger when you’re not constantly keeping your eye on what’s going on in the ever-moving technology industry.
This means keeping track of outgoing communication from thousands of companies, watching the wires and what other publications write or talk about, but also keeping an eye out for emails, tweets, Skype or Facebook messages from sources. You give me a call and I answer, that means I drop not only what I’m doing but also what I was going to be doing in the next few seconds or minutes.
It’s just an enormous distraction when your daily professional activity happens to be jumping from one browser tab or messaging window to the next every few seconds. Perhaps you need to make phone calls for your job, or you don’t mind interruptions, but it sure is a major pain in the behind for me.
2) It’s impossible – or at least not nearly easy enough – to search. Or archive. Or forward.
If people send me an email or a Skype message, that means I can go over it on my terms, at my convenience, but it also means I can easily look up the essence of the message in question. Recording / transcribing phone calls would offer me an opportunity to digitally archive and be able to search through voice conversations, but it’s a hassle that I just think isn’t worth the pain.
Isn’t it easier for everyone involved when one can simply do a search to get the gist of a conversation, even if it happened months or even years ago? And simply being able to forward a conversation to someone else so one doesn’t have to try and recall the exact words that were spoken on the phone?
3) Getting to the point is extremely hard for most people
There’s no such thing as a “2-minute” or “5-minute” phone call, no matter how many times people have tried to convince me of the contrary. Calls nearly always take longer than advertised (and that I would like them to), which makes the unproductivity aspect of them even more of a problem.
Whenever I say I prefer not to do a phone call, people who insist almost always tell me it will be ‘much quicker’ to get their point across than in an email or instant messaging conversation. Years of experience have taught me that this is simply not true in 99 percent of the cases. Trust me.
Note that there are reporters, and I wager even most on TechCrunch’s staff, who don’t mind phone calls as much as me, and some will even swear by voice conversations for all the right reasons.
But personally, I’m convinced I’ll be perfectly fine doing my job the way I’m supposed to without ever again picking up my phone to make or receive a call. It will be awesome.
And remember, dear family and friends – you can still destroy my productiveness and not get to the point with a non-searchable phone call whenever you want.
Bonus link: James Altucher’s phone number is 203-512-2161.