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Tame the telephone

FOR MOST of us, the telephone is an indispensable convenience. It can also be a relentless time-waster, interruption, and distraction. If your telephone works against you, as much as for you, here are some ways to turn the tables.

Try standing while you talk to limit the length of a call. Your voice will take on a more `urgent tone' and encourage people to be more to the point.

Don't feel trapped if someone calls at a bad time or if a notorious talk-aholic calls. Explain you're in the middle of something and ask if you can phone back. Call the talk-aholic back in 10 minutes before you know they need to leave for a meeting or to pick up the kids at school

Make outgoing calls in groups. Have the numbers, a note of what you want to say or ask, and any information you will need, at hand. Respect the other person's time by asking `Are you free to talk for a few minutes?" Use voice mail to ensure an hour or so of concentration time or `me time'. Don't leave it on permanently because this wastes the time of people attempting to contact you.

KRIS COLE

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