I have to admit, I used to be obsessed with my cell phone. As a real estate agent, I actually viewed my cell phone as a money line. I used my cell phone to negotiate home sales and communicate with clients. Any incoming phone call; therefore, represented an opportunity for me to possibly make money.

Looking back, this was a very bad mindset to have…

This mindset caused me to place extreme importance on incoming cell phone calls. They took a priority over just about everything. In fact, I can remember being at the doctor’s office with my wife. She was pregnant and had an appointment with the doctor to hear our babies heart beat. My cell phone rang and I had to answer it. It was right around this time that she made the comment that I was obsessed with my cell phone. At first I was pissed off. She didn’t understand. It was my money line. Then I finally realized she was right.

If I was at the mall shopping with my family and my cell phone rang, I answered it. If I was out to dinner with my family and my cell phone rang, I answered it. If I was at Little Gym with my daughter and my cell phone rang, guess what? I answered it.

Needless to say, I finally decided to get rid of my cell phone. Well, in reality, I decided to eliminate all work related incoming calls. Here is what I did:

1. I changed the outgoing voice mail message on my cell phone to say something like: "Hi this is Rob Minton and I’m no longer using this phone number. Please call me at (give office or voice mail number) from this point forward. Please also understand that I’m unable to check any voice mails left on this phone line. If you leave a message on this phone line, it will not be returned."

2. For the next two weeks, I completely stopped answering my cell phone. All callers heard the above outgoing voice mail message. If someone left a voice mail on my cell phone, I did not return their call. I had to show everyone that calling my cell phone was a complete waste of time. If I had answered the phone, or returned their messages, I would have ruined my plan. Basically, I had to re-teach everyone how to communicate with me. People pay more attention to what you do than what you say. I had to follow through and honor my outgoing voicemail message.

3. I blocked my cell phone number for all outgoing phone calls. This way, I could make outgoing cell phone calls without letting anyone know that I was using a cell phone. In addition, they couldn’t get my cell phone number. I’ve since heard that some cell phone’s don’t allow you to block your outgoing number. If this is the case with your phone, get a new phone. It is critically important to keep your cell phone number private.

4. I stopped giving out my cell phone number. I also instructed everyone on my team to never give out my cell phone number. The only number I gave out was my voice mail number at the office. I was asked countless times for my cell phone number. I simply responded, "The office voice mail is the best way to get me."

After a few weeks, I had completely eliminated all incoming calls on my cell phone. Yes, a few of my clients were irritated. This was to be expected. They eventually got over it. Other agents seemed to be very irritated with me. During a negotiation, they always wanted my cell phone number. I didn’t break! I consistently told them that the best number for me was my office voice mail. This made them furious. Too bad! The good news is that I never lost a sale! You won’t either.

This plan allowed me to eliminate a significant amount of stress. It also improved the quality of my family time. The four steps outlined above helped me to become a better father. Today, I do have a cell phone. The only two people who have the phone number are my wife and my mother. I use my cell phone for outgoing phone calls only. My cell phone is for my convenience, not for everyone else’s convenience.

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