When was the last time you made a phone call to a friend or a member of your family? Texting is quick and easy to do, but it is not the same as picking up the phone and having a proper chat.

There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with other people. But depending on where they live you might actually be seriously restricted to the phone in order to maintain some kind of relationship. If you have a relative living round the corner for example, chances are you might send them a quick text to see if they are in – once they reply you can then pop round and speak to them face-to-face.

But assuming they live on the other side of the world? It's not so easy to just 'pop round' in that situation, is it? Many of us resort to sending a quick email in this case; after all, it's easy to do when you are sitting at your desk and you have a few spare moments.

But while it is good to stay in touch by such methods, it is better still if you can actually hear the other person's voice. Think back to a time when you spoke to a good friend on the phone; it is a lot more uplifting than texting back and forth, is not it?

The problem is that it can be easy to get into the habit of resorting to the fastest way to get in touch – even if it is not the best. And the fastest way nowadays tends to be via text or email – neither of which involve actually physically speaking!

A good way to make sure you use the phone more and actually talk to people, no matter where they live, is to stop yourself before you get in touch. Could you pick up the phone and call them instead? Is the time convenient to do so, or could you block out some time later on to do it?

Of course, it could be that if someone lives in another country the time zones are difficult to get around. You can still get in touch though – it just requires a bit of forward planning. Work out when it is convenient to call and plan a date to do just that ahead of time. Ironically texting can be useful in this situation; just send a text to make sure it's okay to call before doing so!

And of course, it is possible nowdays to make cheap calls to loved ones regardless of where they live. For example, cheap calls to Australia mean you do not have to keep an eye on the time while you catch up on all your news.

So, it may be an idea to think about getting back in touch with people using the phone for once; rather than relying on email and texting to help you.

By Paul Mcindoe