Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Nothing is more frustrating to me than having to research contact information more than once for someone. Yet I found myself having to do this repeatedly because I wasn’t doing a good job of keeping track of my contacts. Here are some strategies that you can implement to help you simplify keeping track of contacts.
Where Should I Store Contacts?
It doesn’t matter where you actually keep your contacts as long as you do it consistently. Ideally, contact information should be available to you wherever you need to use it. This can lead to solutions ranging from physical address books to stand-alone electronic devices to a central repository that automatically pushes out updated information to multiple devices. Or it could be a mixture, depending on where and how you use your contacts information.
Figuring Out Where You Use the Information
Think about all the places you connect with other people. How many phones do you have? What about places you email? Write letters? (I know, it’s hopelessly old-fashioned, but I still write and receive letters from friends).
Now figure out if there is a sub-set of information you use at these locations. For instance, there are two phones in our house that I use regularly: the kitchen and the office. But there are other phones in the house that I want to have certain numbers by in case of emergency or urgent situation. Email addresses are used at the computers (work and home), since I refuse to email anyone from my phone or PDA. But I like having email information with me in case someone asks for an email address I have.
Centralize the Information
Designated one place as the place you will keep all information. When someone changes phone numbers or moves, you will update it here.
By making the commitment to update in one place, you will be able to disperse the information to where it needs to be without having to do a time-consuming comparison of information to decide which is the most current. With a central location to store the information, you can safely overwrite any other location without worrying that you will lose the most up-to-date.
Disseminating the Information
The next part is getting the information where you need it. If you have designated a paper address book, copy pages and put them where they need to be. If you are exporting the information into another system, figure out how to do this (and write it down!). Make a plan to update the information periodically.
My Contact System
I keep a printed contact list next to our main phone, plus emergency sheets next to every phone in the house. I also keep phone numbers in my cell phone, and all contact information is on my PDA, iPod and in my email program.
How do I manage this?
My central repository is in the Palm Desktop and consequently my PDA. If I need to change information, it goes in there, and a Hotsync brings the copies up to date.
From my Palm Desktop, I have two applications that automatically sync with my Google calendar and iPod: CompanionLink and PalmPod. These get run via batch file during my weekly computer maintenance.
For the paper copies, I print out copies of my Palm address book. I keep a full copy printed in a binder next to the main phone (for family use), and printouts of the numbers tagged “emergency” onto yellow or pink paper. Copies of this are next to each phone in the house.
My cell phone gets synced via an export from my Palm Desktop. The carrier has a website that accepts VCF files for import, and then I can sync with the phone with a few buttons.
By choosing one central place to update information and keeping the copies automatically synced, I can be assured that my contacts are well up to date, wherever I am.
Photo by Cansu Cender