Simplifying Phone Calls

by Debi Taylor-Hough

When I was growing up, my mom always kept a list of frequently called phone numbers taped onto the telephone stand in the kitchen. That way we always had easy access to those numbers we called so often, the phone book almost opened to their page naturally.

But, silly me, I never bothered taking the time to do the same thing in my own home until recently. I just kept my personal address/phone book next to the phone in the kitchen, and then thumbed through it quickly whenever I needed a number. This system “worked” … but it was rather frustrating if someone walked off with my phone book to use it in another room, and then forgot to return it to its “home” in the kitchen.

Recently I was inspired to make up a list of those frequently called numbers. I typed it up on the computer and printed out three copies, one to keep by each phone in the house. I used the computer so that if anyone on the list changes phone numbers or I need to add a new number or category to the list, I can just quickly update the information in the computer file, and then print out three new copies.

I’ve taped each phone number list onto the wall right next to each phone so that the lists don’t grow legs and walk away — with three active kids in the house, things always seem to be finding their way to other parts of the house where they don’t belong.

I kept our list fairly short because in an emergency I didn’t want one of my kids having trouble finding a number lost amid all the others. I also didn’t include friends’ numbers because usually only one person in the family would be calling each of those numbers. The listed numbers are the ones that all five of us might have need to call on a regular basis.

The types of numbers I included on my list are:

  • The number to call to access Voice Messaging
  • Family-related phone numbers (workplace, grandparents)
  • Emergency neighborhood contact
  • Frequently called professionals (doctors, church, vet, etc.)
  • Our home address*
  • Our home phone number*

*(I included our home address and phone number on this list because in the midst of an emergency, it can be challenging to remember vital details like phone numbers and addresses.)

I’m amazed at how happy everyone in the family is with this simple change! When my kids need to call Grandpa, there’s no fumbling around through the phone book. The numbers we need are there in front of us, right where we need them.

It’s great!

Here are a few related tips sent in from readers of my newsletter, Simple Times:

“Another great reason for this seemingly simple idea is: I was at my inlaws one Thanksgiving when the neighbor had a heart attack. My hubby, mother-in-law, and father-in-law all ran over there — leaving me at my in-laws to call911. I didn’t know their address!! It might not even be a family member making the call!” – JoAnne

“I have been doing the same thing for years. But I also have a second page with the numbers of businesses that we deal with. That page only goes with the kitchen phone. I also keep a copy of the first page in my purse, one in the cell phone case, and one in the car’s glove compartment.” – Carole

“I even made mine minature-sized to put in my purse. Love it, love it!!” – Cindy S.

“Another idea that works with phone numbers. I keep a little index file with phone numbers listed in alphabetical order. It works well without cluttering the walls. You could put the emergency number on a card at the front of the box. One advantage of this is that the phone numbers and addresses, e-mail and cell phone numbers can be changed easily, and then the index card can just be thrown away. It has worked for us anyway.” – No name

“I have some tips about phone lists by your telephone. If you have speed dial on your phone, be sure to include those numbers on your printed list. The phones can lose their memory (especially if it uses batteries). Imagine a child trying to call Grandma for help and the speed dial button doesn’t work. Having your full name, phone number (including area code) and address on every telephone in your house is a good safety tip. You know the information but your children’s friends or house guests may not! Finally, having a steno pad with an attached pen next to each phone is a great help. Not just for messages but for anything else you need to note when you are on the phone. They are also a great resource for your family. Packs of steno pads are very cheap and last a long time. I wouldn’t be without them.” – Mary

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