Why I Don’t Answer My Phone Anymore (Also Why I Cancelled Voice Mail)

Jul 10, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

Why I Don’t Answer My Phone Anymore (Also Why I Cancelled Voice Mail)

Jul 10, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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why I don't answer the phone and cancelled voicemail

If you’re a photography business owner, you know the feeling:

Your phone rings, you drop everything and rush to grab your phone to take the call…”Hello, can I speak to the person in charge of finances…your website…purchasing…advertising?”

At that moment, I would like nothing more than to reach through my phone and strangle the a$$hat on the other end.

So, I thought I’d explain why I don’t answer my phone anymore, and why I cancelled voice mail.

Top 5 Reasons I Don’t Answer My Phone

1. Phone calls are inconsiderate.

When your phone rings, the expectation is that you drop everything and take the call.  If you think about it, that’s actually pretty rude.

2. Answering the phone is an inefficient waste of time.

Numerous studies show that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to task after being interrupted!  That makes answering the phone a much bigger waste of time than it might seem.

3. It is almost always a telemarketer.

I’d say my ratio of telemarketers to actual calls is at least 5 to 1 – maybe higher.  The result is that when my phone rings, I know its probably someone I really don’t want to talk to.

4. Only old people call me.

If its not a telemarketer, its almost always someone over the age of 40.  Its not that I don’t like talking to old people, its just that they tend to use the phone a lot more often than their younger collogues, and they tent to call about much more trivial issues.

5. I’m angry when I answer the phone.

Because of the above, I’m always kind of pissed off when I answer the phone.  This means that I sound pissed off right from hello.  On the off chance that it is actually a client, or someone important that I want to talk to, the conversation usually doesn’t start off on the right foot.

why I don't answer the phone and cancelled voicemail

Death To Voicemail!

The only thing worse than someone calling me on my phone, is someone who calls and then leaves a voice mail.

Can we all agree that voicemail should have died with fax machines?

I know you called – your name and number are on my phone – I just didn’t want to talk to you so for the love of god – don’t leave a voice mail.

If you have a message for me – leave a text.

As it turns out, even the big boys are killing voicemail so mercifully voicemail will be dead and buried in a few years.

why I don't answer the phone and cancelled voicemail

21st Century Phone Etiquette

I’m not saying its never a good thing to have a telephone conversation with someone – all I’m saying is let’s treat a phone call like how we treat a video conference – just send a few texts to pre-arrange the conversation.

“Need to talk to you about edits on the Vandelay job”

“K – 2:00 good?”


why I don't answer the phone and cancelled voicemail

If Your Phone Doesn’t Ring, You Can’t Answer It

By the way, while writing this post I received a robo call from Kate, my local Google specialist.

Kate just cost me 25 minutes of productivity.

Thanks Kate, that’s awesome.

While thinking about the role of phone calls in the modern business environment, it reminded me of a story I heard about my dad.  He worked in a nice white collar office job for 35 years.  He had a nice, standard issue telephone sitting on his desk for 35 years.  When he retired, they asked why he never answered his phone.  He told them that he had never plugged it onto the wall.

why I don't answer the phone and cancelled voicemail

What Do You Think?

Are phone calls ruining your business productivity?

Do you actually answer your phone?

What about voicemail?

What do you think is the best way to incorporate phone calls in your photography business workflow?

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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138 responses to “Why I Don’t Answer My Phone Anymore (Also Why I Cancelled Voice Mail)”

  1. Duncan Everson Avatar
    Duncan Everson

    The whole article makes me wonder why the writer gives his number to people then!

    1. Nicole Allerstorfer Avatar
      Nicole Allerstorfer

      Well, I guess, it is simply a thing one DOES. It’s ‘normal’ to do so. And: a scheduled call is appropriate. And: How else could someone text a message?

    2. Logan Avatar

      Because people can still text the writer. He mentions that quite clearly in the article.

  2. Matthias Bober Avatar
    Matthias Bober

    People over 40 are old?

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      For the record, I am 39 – in the world of photography and creative professionals, that is definitely senior (its also a bit of a joke…)

      The expectations for phone use in a business environment are very different between generations – and those of us that are a little long in the tooth have very different ideas about phone calls than Millennials.

      1. Andrew Wotherspoon Avatar
        Andrew Wotherspoon

        No dude, your views are ageist. You can’t generalise like that.

  3. Thomas Spayth Avatar
    Thomas Spayth

    Maybe I’m to old to understand being over 40 and all lol but people couldn’t text him which is his preferred method of communication without his phone number I suppose. .

  4. Liz Avatar

    What do l think? That you’re a tosser. Why anyone would want to have anything to do with you, let alone talk to you is a complete mystery.

    1. M M Avatar
    2. Skeptic Avatar

      Someone’s on their period

  5. akshayjamwal Avatar

    I think you need to learn how to keep the phone on silent when busy.

  6. Maria Andrews Avatar
    Maria Andrews

    Not happy I wasted my time reading this.

  7. Bonnie McEachern Avatar
    Bonnie McEachern

    This article is rude. Jerk.

  8. Nikki Nisly Avatar
    Nikki Nisly

    Im not a fan of using the phone when I don’t have to but my bigger pet peeve is people who have no phone manners.

  9. Gill R Avatar
    Gill R

    Wow. I hope for the author’s sake his prospective clients aren’t reading this. He has some valid points to make (especially about cold calls/telemarketers) but phrases them in a way which smacks of arrogance. He has also, obviously, not yet cottoned on to either turning his phone off or keeping it on silent. It’s not compulsory to answer a call. Hell, I often don’t even answer my doorbell unless I’m expecting a visitor or a parcel delivery.

    Oh, and “over 40” is old? Old?!? “Older” would have been acceptable. Old as the author will hopefully find out for himself one day is not “over 40”.

    Now excuse me, I’m so old I’m going to have to go and have a lie-down to recoup my strength after writing this.

  10. Sarah Geiger Avatar
    Sarah Geiger

    Three words: hire an assistant. You maintain a professional, contactable business while avoiding the “hassle” of dealing with those that give you their money. Win win win.

  11. Melissa Burnell Avatar
    Melissa Burnell

    She’s a moron & won’t have a viable business for long. Damn today’s generation needs some lessons on class & people skills!!

  12. Shachar Weis Avatar
    Shachar Weis

    Seems like someone lacks the necessary skills to hold a conversation with another human being. Better stick your nose back in your laptop, you might accidentally talk with an old person.

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      I quite like talking to actual clients on the phone – it is a great opportunity to sell yourself through how you interact with them. Problem is – actual clients rarely (almost never) cold call as a first point of contact.

  13. Ahmet Avatar

    No topic to write about? I’ll send a pigeon about a letter which is about the text I will send to arrange a phone call. Sorry to disturb your protoghrapher lordship.

  14. Marius Budu Avatar
    Marius Budu

    HA!HA!HA! WTF?

  15. Stacy Kenyon Avatar
    Stacy Kenyon

    I’m glad I answered my phone today otherwise I wouldn’t be shooting fashion for a catalog next week ;)

  16. Christopher R Field Avatar
    Christopher R Field

    I think the person who wrote this article is an idiot. And I encourage them to behave in this idiotic manor so they can go out of business

    1. Chris Zahrt Avatar
      Chris Zahrt


  17. Christopher R Field Avatar
    Christopher R Field

    Not to mention incredibly unprofessional

  18. Henry Rodgers Avatar
    Henry Rodgers

    I thought I’d discover something insightful in this. Oh well.

  19. Kerry Applin Avatar
    Kerry Applin

    Lets all sit back and watch as this authors business circles the toilet bowl. All while they are blissfully unaware, given that they don’t answer the phone and have no voice mail. Cause you know, creditors, clients, and everyone else jsut sends texts for everything.

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Usually they email – which is a whole other waste of time, but that’s another story. Recently, I’ve been using https://slack.com/ for team collaborations – which really helps to cut down on both phone calls and email.

    2. Rob Reeves Avatar
      Rob Reeves

      You are correct. The phone is literally the only form of communication anyone ever uses. Is is plan A-Z. Nothing else exists. We are trapped in telephone world. help…

    3. Christopher R Field Avatar
      Christopher R Field

      I’m sure you could write a letter… ;-)

  20. Wayne Palmer Jr. Avatar
    Wayne Palmer Jr.

    Forgive the author. When this was written, they did not have their morning cup of coffee.

    1. Christine Welsh Avatar
      Christine Welsh

      Or they didn’t have their brain…?

    2. Wayne Palmer Jr. Avatar
      Wayne Palmer Jr.

      Hey hey hey. Be nice. :D

    3. Jorge D'Onofrio Avatar
      Jorge D’Onofrio

      Coffee or diazepam?

  21. Angie Dutton Avatar
    Angie Dutton

    I’m over 40 and I prefer texting or email, but I don’t ignore phone calls and it does not take me 25 minutes to get back to work after a phone call. That’s ridiculous. I think this article was written expressly to get attention.

  22. steven_nc Avatar

    Forty isn’t old, you little shit! People should text less, as when driving. If your time is so precious, hire some help. Learn to use the technology.

    1. Logan Avatar

      “People should text less.” How is your attitude any different from the author, just regarding a different mode of communication?

  23. Rob Reeves Avatar
    Rob Reeves

    I can’t believe someone would want to be contacted by a non-immediate form of communication in order to schedule a phone call. Wow. She should be ridiculed in the town stockades. I didn’t get the point of this article at all.

  24. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    So selfish !!! “I’ve got a phone cause I call people when I want to, but people may not call me when they want to” :-(

  25. Shifty303 Avatar

    I actually don’t answer any personal phone calls. I only answer business calls and local numbers that I don’t know. I recently contacted my carrier to turn off my voicemail and they won’t do it!!! I’ve had 30 voicemails on there for years and when someone leaves another their system auto-deletes the oldest.

    I NEVER listen to voicemail because nothing is more annoying than listening to the voice that says “You have _30_ new voicemails. To listen to your messages remain on the line or press 1. For all other options, press 2. First message, sent, Friday, July 10th, Two Thousand Fifteen….” —- “Hi Joel this is _________. It’s Friday, July 10th at about 10AM. Call me back.”


    1. Shifty303 Avatar

      Just thinking about voicemail raised my blood pressure.

    2. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Exactly my point – glad I’m not the only one!

    3. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      That’s why I use Google Voice, that way I can read a transcript of the message. Even if its full of errors I can get the gist of it in a couple of seconds and decide whether or not to actually listen to it.

  26. B Shaw Avatar
    B Shaw

    Interesting perspective – I would recommend the author of this article read a book called ‘Tipping Point’ (written by an old person), Malcom Gladwell. Why? You’ll see that communication is a huge element to accomplishing anything. So what? The people who are willing to hire you, who are the ones with the money, who happen to be in or nearing the old person demographic, may prefer to communicate in a different venue than your preference of text.

    So, if you want to stay in business, know that communication is important and providing multiple avenues for your clients to communicate with you helps you get their business instead redirecting their business to your competitors.

    Or, if you prefer, I’ll take your outdated phone technology off of your hands and I won’t charge you my typical removal fee! As a bonus, I can even take those pesky clients of yours, at no additional cost to you! I’ll even use your old phone to inform them that I’ll be handling all of your accounts from now on. Then you’ll be happily client-free ! That must sound exciting to you! Let’s start the transfer now! By the weekend you won’t have to worry about anyone contacting you again!

  27.  Avatar

    Only OLD people (40 yrs and older) call him/her?? Excuse me, but this article is a slap in the face to seasoned photographers and people in general. Don’t you people at DIYPhotography screen articles before you share them and associate yourself with selfish morons? Dude- Hang up your shingle and hide in your mother’s basement… (Unless you have something against your mother because she’s over 40!)

  28. Christie Hardebeck Phillips Avatar
    Christie Hardebeck Phillips

    Wow, is this person for real? Do they really have a photography business? Do they really make a profit from their business? Just sounds so unreal. The word self absorbed comes to mind.

    1. Maria Chadim Kirkpatrick Avatar
      Maria Chadim Kirkpatrick

      I know- right??

  29. Jorge D'Onofrio Avatar
    Jorge D’Onofrio

    Don’t you plan to live over 40 John-Paul?

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Not yet – 29 has been working pretty well for the last 10 years :)

  30. Roy Avatar

    Reading the comments on this is solid gold. So many people feeling so highly offended that someone would use a medium differently than they do. “See where that gets you, hah!” they say smugly … apparently it gets him to be author on a fairly popular blog and live off his photography business. Well thumbs up!

    (Is your time really spent well, on that matter, responding “this was a waste of my time!” rather than just moving on to less wasteful things? Just asking …)

    Further, the 25 minutes aren’t random guesswork. If you are doing something highly involved, complex edits, are in a highly creative flow – a spontaneous interruption very easily can remove all that mental context and it takes a long time to rebuild that flow. This is a big problem in e.g. software development as well. Here are a few sources: https://www.yast.com/time_management/science-task-interruption-time-management/ , http://www.fastcompany.com/944128/worker-interrupted-cost-task-switching (quotes 23 minutes and 15 seconds on average), http://programmers.stackexchange.com/a/46283/116198 (nice analogies).

    Now, I admit I am not a professional photographer in the sense that I make money of this. So this might not apply as much to me, as to “pro photographers”. With that in mind, I too find unscheduled phone calls a bother and don’t pick up. I don’t even give my phone number out any more, because rarely an endeavour warrants immediate attention. And there are many richer mediums to stay in touch about things: Skype, for example. (Note: For example. Let’s not argue over which alternative is best; different folks, different strokes.)

    “Why do you even have a phone then?” Glad you asked. I don’t get high-speed internet without a phone line here, nor can I browse the internet on the go without a mobile phone.

    You do business via the phone? Awesome! More power to you. JP doesn’t. Shouldn’t you be happy he removes himself from your client pool? Why the anger and cynicism at someone doing you a favour … ;)

    1. Ralph Hightower Avatar
      Ralph Hightower

      When one is “In the Zone” in software development, disruptions can break the train of thought. I know; I’ve been there.

    2. Matthew Wagg Avatar
      Matthew Wagg

      Maybe these people that take 25mins to get back on task should go get tested to ADD or ADHD cause that’s nonsense.

  31. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    My rule is that if I’m driving or on a shoot I don’t answer my phone, but I do check messages as soon as I’m at my destination/wrapped and respond. Likewise I only answer business calls during business hours. My evenings and weekends are MINE.

    People often don’t respond to emails, having a back and forth via text takes forever and is probably just as disruptive to productivity if not worse. Often I need someone to answer a question or approve something and they simply don’t respond to other means of communication so I have to call, and then they don’t answer that either…

    There are simply too many means of communication right now. Some people text, some people email, some people chat, some people call, some people facebook, snapchat, instagram, pigeons? When I’m talking with a client for the first time, or even friends I make a point of asking them which of the million communication methods available they use and prefer. That way I don’t waste time emailing someone who prefers text, or calling someone who’s doesn’t answer their phone OR check voicemail (which by the way is totally rude and you just shouldn’t have a phone in that case).


  32. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    JP, reading the comments, it sounds like you really need to ditch your iPhone and disconnect.
    Okay, I’m in that over-40 crowd; heck, I’m just over 60. But I am tech-savvy; I’ve been programming computers since the mid 70’s. I haven’t programmed a mainframe since 1977. I develop web applications that access databases; something that you probably can’t do.
    Photography is an outlet for me, something that I’ve been doing since 1980; so you could call me an “old fogey” if you want to since I continue to use film with my two SLRs along with my DSLR.
    Like you, I abhor telemarketers. My wife and I have a household policy that we don’t do business with telemarketers. If I’m in a playful mood, I will toy with the telemarketer much like a cat will play with a mouse, batting it around, waiting for the next move… After all, time is money and the longer that I can keep a telemarketer on the phone, pretending that I’m interested, the more time that I waste, the company loses money. I’ve been thinking having a contractor from these security monitoring telemarketers come out for an estimate and wasting their time; now that’s money wasted with gas and travel.
    I’ve had relatives tell me “I tried to reach you but you weren’t there.” I ask “Did you leave a message?” “No.” “Then I don’t know that you called.”
    But, reading your brief bio on DIYPhotography, I would never do business with you. Why? You’re in Canada while I am in the Southeastern US. You are a commercial photographer and I don’t have any need for a commercial photographer.
    See, that’s research. I would do research on the web looking for a photographer that I am interested in and probably contacting via email. But I now a few professional photographers in the local camera club.

    1. Logan Avatar

      Why wouldn’t you know your relatives called if they didn’t leave a message? Does your call log not work either?

  33. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
    Chris Hutcheson

    Seems to me that the expectation with any communication method is to respond right away – text, phone, email, whatever. Certainly the number of people I see texting rather than interacting with the person they’re with seems to bear that one out. The issue isn’t with the medium, but how you manage your interaction with it.

  34. B.S. Avatar

    For the record, I’m over 40 (and over 50), and I agree 100% with everything you said! I wish my corporate employer thought this way for the 28 years I worked there. Instead they thought it was good customer service to answer every call (internal & external both) before they went to voice mail. Imagine all the work that could have been accomplished!!!

    1. Sean Avatar

      Yeah….especially since you would have no customers so work load would be light as heck. :)

  35. Lorraine Mulligan Avatar
    Lorraine Mulligan

    What a load of rubbish, I work in the customer service industry and without phone calls there would be no jobs, the author of this sounds like my 17 year old son who does everything by text because he is 17 !! He will grow out of that when he hits he real world.

    1. Steve Wilson Avatar
      Steve Wilson

      I went out one day visiting local custom upholstery shops, looking for a craftsman who could do a job for me. Everywhere I went the person I wanted to talk with was constantly interrupted by a ringing phone… And when he answered the phone, there was someone on the other end who wanted to sell him something. He couldn’t talk with me, because he was busy being in

  36. Sean Avatar

    Stupidest, most self-indulgent, self-important article I have read in a long time. I almost thought it might have been a joke at first. Time for a wakeup, kiddo, those over 40 are usually your best paying clients with actual MONEY. Since photography is not what pays my mortgage I work in an industry where people get real PISSED if you don’t pick up the phone or unable to leave a message.

    As for telemarketers you can usually sort them out quickly by using the do-not-call lists and blocking the numbers of offenders (very easy to do on my iphone). And that is what VM is actual good for, screening calls. Duh.

    As someone else said, hire an assistant to take you calls and/or silence you phone and let them go to VM…oh, wait, you turned off VM. Guess you and your 20-somethings clients must just tweet your communications…lol.

    1. Steve Wilson Avatar
      Steve Wilson

      My wife’s cousin mentioned that she didn’t see our business on Google Maps (That little bubble or balloon that has your business name at your location on the map, that anyone can see while looking at a map of the area) She highly recommended that I go through the process of getting us “On The Map” with Google. “It’s free… you need to do it” she said.

      I went to the appropriate Google for Business website, and began the process, but when I got to the place where they wanted my phone number I froze… and I realized that as soon as I put my phone number into the Google Machine, my damned phone is going to start ringing off the hook with people wanting to speak with the owner or manager. Screw that… I get enough unwanted calls as it is.

      If I get a call that from a number I don’t recognize, and it isn’t convenient for me to answer the phone, I don’t answer it. Any customer who calls me, is going to want an answer that requires me to look at my calendar. I’ve learned not to answer my phone when I’m driving, because it only distracts me from the task at hand… driving my car without getting hit by an idiot, or missing a turn because I’m engaged in conversation with someone who doesn’t understand that I can’t look at my calendar and thinks I’m being rude. I don’t answer my phone while walking the aisles of Lowes for the same reason… I am not in a place where I can answer your question.

      I really love it when I let a call go to voicemail because I’m out running errands, and I find that the caller calls again two or three times in a two hour period. When I get to a point in time where I can sit and review the voicemail messages on my phone, I get blown away by the idiots who leave a message telling me what they want… and then two follow up voicemails spaced twenty minutes apart letting me know that they’re calling again, and I haven’t returned their call… and you can hear the