I have to admit this. Some people are good at keeping meticulous records, but I am not one of them. My colleagues laugh at me because I am always losing notes, notepads, and even the pens I use to write my notes. Knowing this, I do use technology to help me. For some bizarre reason that I can’t really explain, I keep my digital life in much better order than my physical one. Perhaps it’s because you can throw a pile of virtual papers into a digital stack and rely on your technology to sort things out.

If you want me to dig out an address of someone I haven’t seen for ten years, I usually have all the contact details because I faithfully record any contact every time I make one. Here are some of the things I do:

  1. Every time I receive an email, I record the person’s email address using Outlook. (I right-click on the person’s name in the email and add it to my Outlook contacts.)
  2. Every time I make or receive a phone call, I make sure the contact information is preserved with the name.
  3. Whenever I get an email announcing a change of address, I record it in my contacts database.
  4. I make sure that my Outlook database on the computer is synchronized with my records on my iPad and my cell phone.
  5. I periodically review these databases, getting rid of contacts (usually on a long plane ride) that I am certain I will never see or hear from again.

That is how I make sure I don’t waste any time looking for someone’s contact information. It’s usually at the tip of my fingers. The maintenance of this information takes no time at all, and it is very handy to be able to reach the right people when you need them.

Outlook is an incredibly powerful tool, and it can do so much more than simply send and receive emails. Maintenance of a good contacts database is an excellent, painless way of making your professional and personal life easier to manage.