Creed – My Own Prison
A court is in session, a verdict is in
No appeal on the docket today
Just my own sin
The walls are cold and pale
The cage made of steel
Screams fill the room
Alone I drop and kneel
Silence now the sound
My breath the only motion around
Demons cluttering around
My face showing no emotion
Shackled by my sentence
Expecting no return
Here there is no penance

For many years, I was diligent about protecting my cell phone number. However, over the last year or two, my cell phone number seemed to get loose and before long I was getting work related calls and texts constantly. I could be out to dinner with my family and in comes a text from a tenant about a plumbing problem. Buzz…buzz and another text comes in with another work related issue. I would hold off on responding to these issues, but began to realize I would think about the various issues buzzing in throughout our dinner. It became impossible to separate myself from work.

I was living in my own prison and there was no appeal on the docket.

In other words, my cell phone began to suck life away. I know the same is happening to you, too. Those of us in the real estate industry feel as if we need to be available for our clients 24/7. When we aren’t working (which is rare), we spend countless hours checking our phones for emails, texts and other messages. We are allowing our cell phones to slowly suck our lives away from us with each and every text, call, alert, or email. We create our own prison with no release date.

Our cell phones should be used for our convenience, not the convenience of everyone else. This means we should use our cell phones to enhance our lives, not distract our lives. If you would like to be released from your own prison, follow these steps and you’ll be free within a week.

1. Change Your Outgoing Voice Mail Greeting:

“Hi this is YOUR NAME and thank you for calling. I am no longer using this phone number and my new phone number is OFFICE PHONE NUMBER OR VOICE MAIL NUMBER. If you would still like to talk with me, please call me at this new phone number. If you leave a message on this phone number you just dialed, I will not get it and will not be able to return your phone call. Thank you for your understanding and I do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Once again, my new phone number is OFFICE PHONE NUMBER OR VOICE MAIL NUMBER.”

2. Make Your Cell Phone Number Private:

Since our cell phones are for our convenience, it is important to block our number so that it cannot be captured by those we call. This way you can make out going calls and keep your number protected. If you need to call family or a friend, you can unblock your number and make the call. Or another option would be to simply let family and friends know that your calls will be blocked going forward. Yes, I know blocking and unblocking your phone number is a pain in the ass, but it is worth it for the peace you gain in the process.

3. Use Your Office Phone (not your cell phone) for the Majority of Out Going Calls:

I have a separate phone number in my home office with voice mail attached. I now use this phone for 99% of my out going phone calls. This phone number is not blocked so if someone calls me back, their calls automatically go to my office number, not my cell phone. This also will help you condense work to work hours because you’ll be returning calls from your office.

4. Remove Your Cell Phone Number From Business Cards & Marketing Materials:

Under no circumstances should you publish your cell phone on any marketing materials including business cards, flyers, advertisements, or for sale signs. You are trading your life away to every Tom, Dick or Harry who can interrupt you for any reason whatsoever. This is your life, not theirs. Protect it as if it were the most valuable asset you have, because it is. Use your office phone number on all promotional materials and return phone calls from your office.

5. Return Office Voice Mail Messages in a Timely Manner:

Now that we have all calls going to your office phone instead of your cell phone, return these calls in a timely manner. I try and return calls twice a day. Typically I return calls between 11 am and 12 noon and between 4 and 5 pm. This step is very important because if you don’t return their calls promptly, they will start calling your cell phone again. Train everyone that you will respond to calls to the new number. They will continue calling the number you respond from and it is critically important to respond to calls promptly from your office phone number.

6. Never Return a Call or Message Left On Your Cell Phone:
The first rule of fight club is… there is no fight club. The most important rule for exiting your own prison is… never return a call or message someone makes to your cell phone.

Just as with the step above, never ever return a phone call or message left on your cell phone. If you do, you will train the person that they can get to you through your cell phone. You have to ignore ALL incoming work phone calls and messages on your cell phone. This is not easy, but vitally important. If you break down and return a call to your cell phone, they will begin using your cell phone again and you’ll soon be in a prison of your own making.

7. Remove Work Email Accounts from Your Cell Phone

Save work emails for when you’re working. Delete your work email accounts from your phone. The reason I’m suggesting you delete the email accounts from your phone is because it is almost impossible to not check your email when you have an extra minute or two. I do not have the will power to not check it, so I have eliminated it completely. Checking work emails on your phone is a very slippery slope. I have a separate email account for friends, family, and newsletters that I enjoy reading. I do check this email on my phone, but it is free of work emails.

8. Stop Work Related Texts

Instead of sending work related texts, switch to sending emails when you’re working. This way when the recipient responds, they’ll be responding by email and there incoming email will not distract you from living. You’ll get their response the next time you work. When you receive a work related text, send a reply asking the person to use your work email address.

I just went through this process with my cell phone and within 7 days, I had peace back in my life again. I have walked away from my prison. The good news is you can walk away from your own prison, too.  It will take a week or two to train everyone to use your office number instead of your cell phone.

Now I realize most of you who read this will not follow these steps. You’ll falsely believe that you must be accessible 24/7. You will continue to let others control you life. However, a very small percentage of you will actually implement these simple steps. Those of you who decide to take your life back will soon have a great deal of peace back in your lives.

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