I think it’s generally a good idea to try and optimize your life for happiness. Exercise. Get sun. Sleep well. Unplug. Don’t overwork.
Recently, I’ve noticed a trend outside that normal tempo that has caused a slight uptick in unhappiness for me and others I interact with – the 9AM or earlier phone call.
The 9AM phone call is much like the flight you book months in advance. At the time, the $50 cost savings seems worth it. However, once you get on the flight, the agony of the middle seat and the 4AM wakeup doesn’t come close to making up for the cost that seemed so amazing at the time of purchase.
The early call is similar. I’ve always booked it because I like the idea of flow. It allows me to take a call and then get into the progress of my workday without having to worry about a random call interrupting my day. However, this thought process is often more of a shortcut than a solution.
The early-morning business meeting ends up causing more problems than it solves. The first impact of an early phonecall faces you the previous night before it comes. You fear needing to wake up early, and it drags into your time to relax as you fret over sleeping well and being alert for your meeting. In many ways, it forces you to plug in early.
The next morning, it can be best described as a delayed alarm. It forces you into early morning action and alertness, and makes you speed to work, through your coffee, through your time with your loved ones, and through a relaxing period that can be vital to establishing your emotional standard for day.
Personally, I’ve found myself often rushing to work, checking my watch, and eating a bad breakfast rather than spending more vital time with my girlfriend, eating healthy, and enjoying my walk to the office in beautiful San Diego – and all because of an early meeting.
At the same time, I’ve noticed my girlfriend mention the exact same things about her work calls. At 8PM, we’d be talking about her 8:30AM-9AM phone calls. When I woke up the next morning, I’d be talking about mine. Instead of enjoying each other, we would instead fret over the first item on our to-do the next morning. Not the best thing for our well being by any means.
And to make things worse, these proposed calls really had no impact on when we actually started our workday. On average, we both seemed to get to work around the same time whether we had a call or not – the only difference would be whether or not we would stress out about it.
A Better Solution
The concept of flow is real, and it’s something that’s needed for any person. However, I’m starting to get over the idea of trying to establish it after a scheduled event in the morning. Instead, I think it’s worth using the morning times to be most productive in silence.
A call can happen any time, but the productivity that comes with a good cup of coffee and a silent inbox is something that is sacred, and should be maximized. Calls can be placed near the end of your day, or right before or after lunch. The morning works because it’s uninterrupted silence – to adjoin it with a business call is a recipe for abusing the productive period, and also bringing unhappiness and anxiety into your life.
To be fair, no matter where you schedule the call, anxiety will happen. You will have to check your watch to make sure you finish lunch on time. You’ll need to rush to finish that last to-do before the final call of the day. But in measurement of approximate values, the 30 minutes to an hour of call anxiety from end-of-the-day calls beats the day-impacting anxiety of the early morning ones – at least to me, anyways.
And it should also be noted the stress of a 9AM call is in many ways the luxury of a good job. If you need to be at work every day at 9AM, you have a built in 9AM anxiety by default. This use case only matters if you don’t. If you have to get in that early by default, I’m sorry – you’ve probably got bigger problems.
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