I’ve spent a good amount of time over the last month cleaning up my various contacts lists. I use several different programs to track contacts (not intentionally) and wanted to centralize down to a single system of record. Almost a decade after I started tracking contacts electronically I found that I had many disparate lists spread over Plaxo, LinkedIn, Outlook, GMail, and on two phones. It was time to bite the bullet and reconcile them to a single list.
After some fairly comprehensive research and a good amount of thinking I decided that GMail was to be the central system of record. I like the contact manager that it offers, find the interface to be simple and intuitive and like that it will automatically sync with my phone (I have the G1 from T-Mobile although I’m thinking of switching to Verizon for the Droid X or the Incredible). I’ve made a somewhat conscious effort to move much of my organizational data over to Google over the last few years and this felt like a logical and consistent move within that strategy.
All told it took about ten hours to get all of the lists synchronized, check all of the data for consistency, and update metadata such as photographs, employers, titles, and the all important notes. I don’t remember everything about many of the business contacts that I meet, however I am fairly conscientious about taking down notes for reference later.
I’m hoping that this effort will carry me through for another couple of years. I’ll try to keep on top of the management tasks between now and then but to be honest it’s just not something that I see happening. It’s likely that I’ll use the momentum of this cleanup to propel me until the next time I need to get the records straightened out again. For now it is really nice to not have to scour five different places when looking for a phone number I just know I have.