Q: My boss keeps telling me that I spend too much time on my cell phone during work hours, and if I keep it up she’s going to take it away from me. I have important things to talk to my friends and family about, so I need to keep my cell phone with me at all times. How can I get them to quit calling me so much?

A: Many operations do not allow their employees to carry personal cell phones into the facility unless it is directly needed for their business duties. So, it sounds like you have a real privilege, and you need to work to protect it.

For every minute that you are talking on your cell phone, there is at least one minute of work that is not being done — and if we’re honest, it’s probably more than that. Even if you are talking and “working” at the same time, studies show that this work is inefficient, inaccurate and prone to mistakes. 

It is up to you to set guidelines for people who call you and to inform them in a serious manner. Set a limit for the length of any calls, identify specific times of the day that you will take calls and make it clear that you may not carry your phone with you at all times.

If it still is a problem with some people, you need to take the following actions:

  • Don’t talk long when you do take their calls.
  • Tell the person to stop calling you.
  • Don’t answer the phone. They can leave you a message if it’s important enough.
  • If your “friends” keep calling after you have told them that such actions are hurting your job and relationship with your boss, you need to decide whether those people are your friends. Of course, if it’s a family member you may have to bear with it and reiterate your firm new stand.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.