Phones are double-edged swords (Well, not literally).

On the one hand, your phone facilitates real-time communication between you and the person on the other end.

On the other hand, your phone can distract you from important meetings, throw you off your groove and suck up time you could’ve used for more productive tasks.

So, it’s a good thing you can manage incoming calls, improve the quality of your communications and free up more time in your workday using the following tips and tricks.   

1. Put Your Mobile Away When You Don’t Need It

Your phone shouldn’t be in the same place where you manage customers or hold face-to-face conversations.

Even if you have the willpower to ignore the constant tones and alert lights in the background, the sound can still impair your concentration, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.   

2. Make Your Voicemail Greetings More Customer-Oriented

In a world where everyone uses “(Phone number) isn’t available at the moment. Please leave a message,” a well-thought out voicemail greeting stands out.

Using your own voice, say something like “Hi, this is (Your name). Unfortunately, I’m away from my desk right now but if you leave a message I can assist you with your project soon.”

Use your voicemail recording to let people know what information they should leave so you can get back to them quickly. For example, “Please leave your phone number, name and the best time to reach you.”

3. Schedule Your Phone Calls

If you’re uncomfortable with people hitting you up at odd hours, let them know in a tactful way. Write your available hours on your website and calling cards, or incorporate them into your voicemail message. You might think it’s better to be available 24/7, but if you’re too exhausted to even mutter a simple “Hello” to the person on the other end, it’s going to be an awkward experience for both of you.

4. Read Voicemails When You Have Time

Thanks to technology, you don’t have listen to your entire inbox anymore. There are many services out there that automatically transcribe your messages for you so you can read them instantly (or save them for later).

AccessDirect, for instance, has a service that emails text copies of voicemails to you. Rather than listening to entire messages, you can scroll through the transcription to get the gist of what the message is about and decide if you need to respond to it now or if it can wait.

5. Consider Using E-mail as Your Primary Mode of Communication

Not all business communications have to be via phone. In instances where messages need to be recorded and followed-up on, email is better. The nice thing about email is that you can organize messages according to content, so you can pare them down at your own pace.    

You might even consider leaving your address in your outgoing voicemail message and direct people to instead contact you via email.

6. Don’t Forget Basic Phone Etiquette

Introduce yourself when you pick up the phone. Keep your conversations friendly yet on-point. Close with a warm remark or a call-to-action.

To make yourself sound more approachable during your calls, you can also smile during your conversations, even if no one else can see you. Doing so can improve your voice inflections and make you sound more receptive and caring.

Remember: Phones should ramp up your productivity, not hinder it. Don’t be afraid to use technology or set boundaries if it improves the way you handle incoming calls. Your bottom line will thank you for it.  

This story first appeared on Women 2.0.