No Land Line? Bad Reception on Cell Phone? Here’s a $2.99 Solution

I got rid of my land line at least two years ago and haven’t missed it because I don’t talk on the phone often, and I travel a lot. But when I’m home and do want to talk, I’d have to stand in the doorway of my kitchen and hold my head at a certain angle. Otherwise, the reception would be spotty and, eventually, the call would be dropped.

DING! Problem solved. I signed up for unlimited calls using Skype for $2.99 a month. I can call land lines and cell phones in the US and Canada and talk as long as I want. They also have plans for calling other countries. I could use a headset with mic, but most of the time, I use my external microphone and speakers that I usually have connected to my laptop.

Calls are crystal clear, and I’m hands-free!

SMH. Couldn’t believe I’m just now setting this up. That is what I call a digital breakthrough.


Delete Thousands of Messages Off Your BlackBerry At Once

I was standing in line the other day and struck up a conversation with a woman behind me. I lost interest in the conversation very quickly because she couldn’t keep her eyes off of her BlackBerry (another post for another day). I asked her which model she had and when she held it up, I noticed that she had close to 2,000 old messages! OMG!

Are you leaving old messages in your BlackBerry because you don’t want to delete each one, one at a time? You don’t have to. Here’s how a couple of clicks can get you to a clean slate.

I don’t try to manage my life on a phone. I do my serious email stuff when I’m back at my laptop in Outlook. I  use the BlackBerry to monitor email in case something critical comes through while I’m out and about. Once I review all messages and answer only the ones that need an immediate response (e.g., a journalist on a deadline), I delete all messages in the Inbox at once.

  1. Type t to go to the top of the message list.
  2. Select topmost date, click Menu button, Delete Prior, Delete. All messages prior to the date I selected will be deleted. Because I want all messages deleted, I selected the topmost date.

I can delete everything because my email messages are not synched with Outlook and they’ll come to my Inbox when I’m back on my laptop (if you’re not on a server, email messages can’t be synched). You can also delete one message at a time by selecting it and DEL.

It’s a good idea to also get rid of the Confirm Delete. To do this, click to open Messages, click the Menu button, scroll Options, General Options.



President Obama Could Limit His BlackBerry Use Now That He's Survived Without It

President Obama had a mountain of issues to deal with in his first 100 days, and not having his BlackBerry helped him stay focused. I’m hoping that he doesn’t get sucked back in to his BlackBerry addiction.

It’s old news that President Barack Obama was addicted to his BlackBerry. Now that he’s had to live without it, he’s benefited in ways he may not have realized.

From the perspective of a time management expert who teaches people how to manage email overload, here are  some benefits I believe the President has experienced since being forced to live without his BlackBerry.

Did his best work because he was more focused. Once the President’s addiction was in check, he was better able to complete a thought, finish what he started, and pay more attention to what counted. He has some serious messes to lead us out of and his total attention is needed to do that.

Got back ability to concentrate. The President no longer gets distracted the instant something rings, beeps, or buzzes. He is no longer walking down the street and taking a chance of bumping into poles and people while he’s thumbing and scrolling. Yes, he’s brilliant and can manage several things at once, but to lead us out of this mess, his brain cells are in overdrive and we can not afford for him to waste a single one. The results of his more focused efforts speak for themselves.

Showed staff he trusted them. He was not always “on” so his team felt more confident about believing they could get things done without letting him know their every move. Everyone should be trained well enough to make good decisions based on well thought-out processes and procedures. This being the case, it’s OK to miss an email or two.

Listened more intently. With the ringing and buzzing gone, President Obama was able to listen and get it right the first time instead of having to double-back or double-check. People come at him with everything they’ve got so not having the BlackBerry distraction leaves nothing to chance.

Made others around him feel more worthy. The most important person in the room is the one you’re with. I would not want the President appearing disrespectful by not being fully engaged. It’s best to turn the BlackBerry off in all meetings. “You’re the boss, Mr. President, and no one will say anything, but trust me, it doesn’t make people feel good when you ease your BlackBerry under the table and peek. People want your undivided attention as a sign of respect. And don’t even think about leaving it on once you’re in your private quarters.

Slept better at night. Once President Obama stopped sleeping with his beloved BlackBerry under his pillow, he was able to get a good night’s sleep and feel more refreshed in the morning.

The President has already proven that life goes on without the BlackBerry. You can do it too. People such as 9-1-1 operators, receptionists, specialists for medical emergencies, and high-level technicians on call may have to be available the instant something rings, beeps, buzzes, or dings, but why do you? As much as I love email, I don’t want to be tied to it 24/7/365. If you’ve got it so bad that your work and home life suffer, box up your BlackBerry and ship it to yourself with 3-5 day ground delivery. When you get it back, you’ll be more sensible with it. And every time you start to feel the urge to overindulge, ship it again.

Do You Need an 800 Number? Or a Separate Fax Line?

If you’re a small business owner (or otherwise) and are trying to cut costs of doing business, let the toll-free number go. And unless you have to send a lot of faxes, get rid of the dedicated line for that too.

Incoming calls on your toll-free line or a dedicated fax line that’s not used a lot can be a big waste of money. What else could you do with that money you’re spending every month? Are you still hanging on to these thinking you’ll get more business? Do you think this is helping you appear bigger than you are? You can accomplish more if you put that money into a more professional Web presence.

Here is why I got rid of my toll-free number years ago.

  • Phone companies offer unlimited long distance. For $20 a month, I get unlimited long distance from AT&T. I don’t think anything about making a call and staying on the line until I’ve finished my business.
  • Cell phones make it economical to call long distance. I don’t give out my cell phone number and always have minutes to roll over to the next month. If I need to make a call away from my office, it’s no problem, no cost.
  • Google could work better than a vanity number. Getting a phone number that spells your company name, etc., is a cute way for people to remember you. But the perfect vanity number is hard to come by. If someone hears me on the radio, etc., they can Google various terms they heard me say, my name, etc., and find me right away. If I had a vanity number to give out, would they remember? I don’t think so.

Here is why I got rid of my dedicated fax line years ago.

  • Combo copier/fax/printer/scanner with a splitter makes it easy to fax. On the rare occasion that I have to fax something, I fax from this unit using my regular phone line. I have DSL (it uses a different signal from the analog phone) and the splitter on the phone jack eliminates the need to unplug or switch any wires.
  • efax for incoming faxes. Since I rarely have to receive a fax, I use the free service from I don’t publicize the fax number, and only give it out as needed. As long as I don’t receive more than 20 pages a month, the service is free.
  • Mail it instead of fax. If they can’t email it, and it’s too many pages to fax, use snail mail. We often forget about the option of mailing something. It still works.

Peggy Duncan Personal Productivity Expert