Someone in our newsroom sent out this e-mail globally a few minutes ago:
China and the Germans? Among other things.
No, thank goodness — although that sounds just like a lot of calls I get.
When I became editorial page editor, I had to stop answering my publicized land line — which I felt really bad about, since my whole career I had valued accessibility. But I found that editorial page editors get a kind of call that other journalists don't get — the very nice people who, when they find out they're talking to the EPE, want to talk about every issue under the sun. And since they are nice people, I have a very hard time getting off the phone. When I DO make the mistake of answering it, it's not unusual for me to be trapped for half and hour, and sometimes more. Which I cannot do, and do all the other stuff I have to do in a day — especially if I'm going to read my e-mail, and communicate with y'all here on the blog.
Once, I had someone to answer the phone for me — and get me on the line if necessary. No more. Now I have to let the machine get it, and get back to people as I am able — something I apologize for, but I don't know how else to manage the time.
If someone really NEEDS to talk to me (not just chat) and they're not available when I call them back, I leave my cell number — which I always answer.
It's really, really imperfect, but I haven't figured a better way to get through the day. And yes, I've consulted people about time management, and you know what they always say? I try to do too much. Answering the phone is one of the few things I've given up.