Thursday, March 16, 2006

Contacts and Phone Lists

I'm still struggling with how to keep track of my phone numbers and other contacts. Many of my colleagues have moved into Microsoft Outlook, which is provided by our company. They have the PDAs and sync up their home and work computers.

Others have lists in Word. I have lists in Word, but most of my main phone lists are in our in-house publishing system, a Unisys product called Hermes. I also have several phone lists on Excel spreadsheets. All my phone lists are fairly well indexed and there is a way for me to tap into them from home, I think. But it is cumbersome.

Sometimes I think I should switch into Microsoft Outlook, but I've been discouraged because the job seems overwhelming. As you can imagine, reporters probably have more than the usual amount of contacts and our contacts are extremely important to us. That's how we do our stories!

This morning an interesting suggestion came from Ellen Faye, of Straighten-Up, in Cherry Hill. She is one of the organizers I've been working with in the Digging Out series.

She said I should hire a kid -- maybe one of my boys -- to enter my contacts in a Microsoft Outlook program at home. At first I dismissed her idea. For one thing, I do not want to carry a PDA around -- I like to travel light. I don't even carry a purse. I just hate schlepping stuff. I have a cell phone at home, for example, but only take it when I really need it. But a PDA could be useful in some circumstances. I just don't want to be controlled by it.

Also and more importantly, I had always been reluctant to have others enter my contact information because I very much want each contact sorted into categories, in fact multiple categories. For example, I might want to put a local painter's union leader under union, under Philadelphia, under construction.

An intern, or my kid, would not be capable of making the distinctions they way I would like. But, then, inspiration dawned. They could fill in all the standard contact info and I could go back and add the categories. That would be much less time consuming.

Hmmm... Now I just have to figure out how I'd pay for it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With a PDA (at least Palm - don't know about PPC) you don't really need to categorize. You can put your "categories" as keywords in a note "attached" to the contact. Then run a search with your keyword and all contacts with that keyword will be listed. You can put in as many keywords that way as you want - usually there are a limited number of categories that you can assign, and I don't think you can assign more than one category to a contact.

I use a PDA for my contacts and it is invaluable. Easy to access - doesn't require booting up - small.

I'm really enjoying your articles!

10:01 AM  
Blogger The Coz said...

I use Outlook contacts and love it. I do not have a PDA for syncing. Instead, I print a paper copy of my contacts double sided which I keep in my tote bag. I update it every few months.

I probably have fewer contacts than you (about 330 for me) and it comes out to 20 pages which is 10 sheets of paper printed double sided. I suppose if your contacts number in the thousands that may not be practical, but it works for the smaller scale.

12:49 PM  

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