I have never declared “New phone who dis?” Largely because I would never text “dis” but also I am a serious contact manager. I organize everything that I can get my hands on, and in this digital age we have access to SO MUCH information. To me, information management is paramount, lest we become victims to an informational avalanche. If you’ve ever fallen down a Youtube rabbit hole you know what I mean.
Back to the matter at hand. “New phone, who dis?” That phrase is common simply because it’s easier to upgrade our devices than it is to manage our content -apparently. Regardless, let’s talk about phone contact management.
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#1 Easiest solution: Use IFTTT with Google Sheets
This solution is free! When you set it up the applet, IFTTT automatically records your new phone contacts into one Google Sheet.
No coding knowledge required
IFTTT means If This Then That. This free app is an automation manager that works with a host of devices. You use pre-made applets to define your parameters, or you make your own. No coding knowledge required! If you don’t know how to code this is perfect. If you do know how to code you may feel limited. You will need a Google account also, and know how to access and use your Google Drive. When you have both free accounts, IFTTT helps you link the accounts and run the applet. Then you just sit back and watch new contacts populate your Google Sheet in chronological order with the oldest at the top of the sheet.
The downsides here are 1) This may be hard to set up if internet things are challenging for you…lookin’ at you Baby Boomers, and 2) that this applet only records NEW contacts. If you want all of your existing contacts in the sheet, you will need to plug them in manually. If you have ALL OF THE CONTACTS, just add them in small batches as you have time.
#2 Prettiest solution: Write by hand and update a nice journal (My preferred method)
Moleskines and gel pens
This solution only costs one journal and a writing utensil…so the cost ranges from free to unlimited (it all depends on your tastes). I like Moleskine Volant and gel pens, so a fresh start for me may cost as high as $30.
When you commit to having a physical record, you need to further commit to update your records every few months (or weeks, or years) depending on how often you add new contacts. I update mine each January and June, and each time I add ~10 contacts and subtract several. If you’re curious, I only record personal contacts, but not not businesses. I work alphabetically and remove as I go. If I haven’t talked to John Smith in years, I record his number then delete from my phone. My contacts rarely change their numbers, but when they do I make a physical note in my journal (via low-tech post-it) so that I don’t forget to record the update.
The downside is the lack of automation. You must remember to do the work in whatever way works best for you. I like doing this, so I look forward to this task each January and June. Also, since the records are handmade and analog there are all sorts of outside factors that could prevent you from updating contacts. You could lose the journal to a bad puppy, break your writing wrist after thinking about sparring with Chuck Norris, fall into a backwards-only time machine, or more.
#3 A Third Solution: Update an electronic document
This solution is also free! This is a hybrid of #1 and #2. You set up an electronic document -something easy to update- then you update it yourself.
email drafts as digital post-it notes
You could easily use a free Google Sheet, or Google Doc. I prefer email drafts because they are easy to access from your phone, or other internet enabled device. As long as the draft’s TO: line is left blank, you never have to worry about accidentally sending someone your friend’s and family’s names and numbers. I use email drafts as digital post-it notes because I can access them on any device that I like.
The downside with this hybrid is a blend of one and three. You could lose access from the original document from a hacker, you could forget where the document is in general, and you could simply forget to update.
You could even say “New phone, who dis”
But what next?! What if you really did get a new phone and an old friend randomly texts you? Easy. Just compare that number with your record. If you find the match, save that number again and enjoy catching up with your friend. If the number doesn’t match, then reply any way you want. You could even say “New phone, who dis” if you choose.
Do you manage contacts differently? Are you dedicated to your Rolodex? Or maybe you were inspired to try info management for the first time? I would love to hear from all sides.
- Ready for more information? Here’s something to bite into: The InstantPot Post
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