November 27, 2007

Stop leaving pointless voice mail

Some people have annoying voice mail habits. Here are two of them.

  1. Messages from a close friend or relative just asking to call back. What a waste of 30 seconds of your life that you will never get back. If this happens every week, that's like 26 minutes a year of wasted life. This is a problem because checking voice mail is a chore. On a mobile phone you have to wait to connect, enter a code, listen to announcements about the number of messages and the time they were recorded, listen to the message, and then delete it. If you are calling someone you talk to at least every week, they are going to see your missed call and know that you want to talk. They don't need to waste 30 seconds of their life hearing a useless message; by that time they could have already called you. If you have an actual message, such as a phone number they were looking for or a bundt cake recipe, then by all means leave it. But otherwise just hang up when you get to voicemail.
  2. Messages telling you what time it is. Answering machines with timestamps became popular in the 1980s, so 20 years later why are you telling someone what time you're leaving your message? If they have some relic of an analog tape recorder, it's their own problem. If you're calling a cell phone, you know it has a timestamp. Get on with the message already, and why does the time even matter?
You have one new message. (Pause.) First new message ... received today at ... eight ... twenty-six ... p.m. (Pause.) "Hey, Bob, this is Joe. It's ... uhhh ... about ... eight thirty. I just wanted to see if you were around. Call me back. Bye." (Long pause.) End of message ... To delete this message, press 7..."

What a waste of time. Joe and Bob talk all the time. Bob probably heard his cell phone ring, and even if he didn't, he will look at the phone and see Joe's number on his missed calls list -- along with the time he called! Imagine that!

So please -- stop leaving voice mail when you have nothing to say, and get to the point without giving the time and temperature.

Why do I care about this? Because some people have stopped checking their voice mail entirely. They are deluged with pointless messages and will miss important ones.

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