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The Dr Pepper Method to Handling Calls & Email: Does it Work?

Last week, I was reminded of the Dr Pepper method to keep up with daily email and phone calls. In short, this is the 10-2-4 method.

Where did this come from? Anyone old enough to remember Dr Pepper’s older ads knows the slogan was to drink a soda at 10 am, 2 pm and 4 pm. This was good for anyone in the workplace who got regular breaks, as well as just about anyone else who wanted to drink soda on a regular basis. Today, I think the thought of drinking even one sugar-soda is repulsive, but back then, it was all the rage.

The way this relates to email and phone is simple: Only check your email and return phone calls at 10, 2 & 4.

Does this make sense? Is it a timesaver?

In my case, this probably isn’t a viable way to stay productive. I don’t have an issue with phone calls because I do not have many calls to return, but when it comes to email, not only will I worry that email is piling up in double-digit numbers; I may have something waiting that is time-sensitive and shouldn’t wait several hours.

It seems to me the Dr Pepper method is good for anyone out in the field who regularly meets with clients or customers because their time isn’t disrupted by continually checking email – and that’s what this is really about, disrupters to our work and managing client/customer expectations.

Is there a better way? Here are a few suggestions that I’ve found helpful:

  • Turn off your email if you are trying to focus. I know the constant interruption of the “sound” when an email comes in and the notice on screen is distracting. I find the alerts helpful, but not when I’m focusing on something such as writing, for example. You can adjust the alerts in your email settings. A better way? Turn off your email.
  • Change your voice mail attendant message. How many times have you received voice mail messages that you didn’t check, didn’t return or forgot they were there? Probably too many times. No one I know wants to deal with voice mail, so instead of asking your callers to leave a message, ask them to text you if something is urgent or ask them to send you an email. It’s much more efficient.
  • Stop checking email when you leave the office. Unless you are about to announce an IPO or your Aunt Fanny is walking the tightrope between two tall buildings, don’t continue to check email all night. This applies to working at home or having an office away from the house. Of course, there will be times when you have to be available, but again, this is all about managing expectations. I have one client who got really mad at me one day because he sent an email the night before around 10 pm my time – and I didn’t respond to take care of something he thought was important. We’ve now worked out a system that he will text me if he needs me, because my phone is never very far away from my bedside … which leads me to the last tip ….
  • Use Your Do Not Disturb Phone Setting. Once you go to bed, another tactic is to put on your Do Not Disturb, so unless the person trying to reach you is in your Favorites’ list, he or she can’t get through.

I think the 10-2-4 method is great if it works for you and your own needs. Bottom line: find a more efficient way to get rid of distractors and manage client/customer expectations.

P.S. My grammar friends (you know who you are) know why I did not put a period after “Dr” in Dr Pepper. That’s because there never was one and shouldn’t be one!

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