Streamline Phone Numbers To Boost Productivity

Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by compujeramey

It used to be that there was one phone per physical location. And I am old enough to remember when that phone was provided by the phone company, mounted to the kitchen wall, and there was a long cord attached to it.

These days, everyone seems to have multiple numbers. This can get out of hand, though, especially if you find yourself juggling multiple devices or missing calls.

Here are some suggestions for streamlining the phones:

Taking Stock

First of all, you have to know what you have.

  • Home. How many land lines do you have? Do you need them all? Some people still have second lines at home for fax connections. Or do you need any land lines? Most people don’t, unless you have small children or medical devices that require a land line for monitoring.
  • Work. Most people have a work-provided phone. Do you use it? Can you get rid of it?
  • Cell. Most of us have cell phones. Who uses your number?
  • Work Cell. Do you have a work-provided cell phone or pager? Can you switch to using a single device?


Consolidation can bring big benefits, both from a convenience standpoint and a money standpoint. Here are some things to think about.
Fax lines. If you have a dedicated fax line, do you use it at least every day? If not, can you consider a program that will fax from your computer, or use a service at the local office supply store?
Home phone. Do you need a home phone? If everyone in your house has their own cell phone, why do you have a land line?
Work. Let me know if you succeed in getting rid of your desk phone at work. I would love to.
Cell phone. Are you in a right-sized plan with the right carrier? Services like BillShrink can help you find out. If you are consistently going over your allotments or are way under, you may need to adjust your plan.
Work cell phone. Why are you carrying a separate device? (There are good reasons, see below.)

The Downside of Consolidation

Here’s the thing about getting rid of your work cell phone and using your personal: some companies, if any company information goes through your personal device, have written policies that allow them to scrub the device should you leave the company. This could be disastrous if they decide to take everything off, and you lose your apps, pictures, contacts, etc. Plus the company will take physical possession of your phone to do this, and that gives them access to everything personal you have in there.

I personally will not carry a cell phone for work, and I will not use my personal cell phone for work purposes. The main reason is when I am off work I do not wish to be bothered with work. But the other reason is I will give no employer access to my personal information, even inadvertently.

My Solution – Google Voice

Just as a frame of reference for the solution I am about to give, here are my phones:

  • A land line. (I have a pre-teen without a cell.)
  • A cell phone.
  • A work phone.

I use Google Voice to consolidate many of my phones. This provides me with one number, and rings to the various devices. During non-work hours, it will ring both my cell phone and the house phone, so that I can pick up on either one. During work hours it rings my cell phone.

The benefit is when I am working from home. I forward my work desk phone to Google Voice, and this provides me with two things: 1) I don’t have to give out a number…my colleagues can call my work phone; 2) when both the cell and the home phone ring at once, I know the call is probably from work and I can answer appropriately.

The other benefit is I can block calls from specific numbers through Google Voice. This will become necessary as I leave this client, because I gave my number to one manager and he has given it to many other people.

By evaluating my phone usage and implementing Google Voice, I was able to streamline my phones. Have you streamlined? What did you do? Please share below.

Photo by compujeramey