Best Practices for organizing contacts
I am working to reorganize my 1200+ contacts into more logical groups. Friends and family are pretty easy, but I am struggling a bit with the strategy for business-related types. Lumping everyone into business doesn't make a lot of sense, but there are folks that move from being current clients to prospects to networking connections that make it a bit confusing.
What are others doing here? I am using Outlook and synch to my Treo 650.
Categories vs. Distribution Lists
I belong to a local filmmakers' collaborative, in which film hobbyists take turns to make their film projects, with the help of others in the group. After every project, we reconfigure the teams, and switch roles on the next project. So the current film's director would work as cinematographer in the next, as Asst. Director on the following, and so on.
So, to organize the members' contact information in Outlook, I've used two strategies:
1. Categories: Add "project" categories as the contacts move to new projects. Outlook supports multiple categories, but I'm not sure if there's a max. I did run into a problem with syncing multiple categories with my Pocket PC at one point, but that seems to have fixed itself since ActiveSync 3.8.
2. Distribution Lists: Supported in outlook for exactly this purpose, to group your contacts in different ways. Problem: distribution lists don't sync with Pocket PC.
If you don't need to sync contacts with your PDA, I'd recommend distribution lists, they are a little easier to work with (for example, you can address an e-mail to the distribution list directly, by typing in the name of the list in the "To:" field).
Primary Criterion Is What Works
Originally Posted by TesTeq
Best, however, if/when the technology permits it, all of the above. (Of course, it's possible to do this now with Outlook categories.)
The guidelines I use for assigning categories include:
- What kind of resource is the person, organization, or agency in relation to me?
- From which of the various communities in which I participate do I know the person?
Not sure what you mean by 'need'. My primary criterion for the 'best' system is what works best for me -- not some arbitrary standard of simplicity or elegance and certainly not 'perfection' (whatever that is).
Originally Posted by TesTeq
'Works' in this context means knowing where to file new contacts and being able to find existing ones quickly and with minimum effort in the majority of (albeit not necessarily all) cases. In both my physical and electronic filing systems, I adhere to the GTD standard of reducing the number of places I might have to look for something to three or four. 'Works' also encompasses ease of physical administration of the system -- backups, archives, encryption, and practical limits on file sizes.