How do you organize your Adress Book? (PIM, CRM, online, offline, PDA, hPDA...)

Hi,

Fan of GTD I now want to organize my adress book as best as I can.
I'm testing Plaxo right now which is good as an adress book. But I need more than that, something like HighRise or a perconal CRM.
Any hint from you folks?
How do you manage your contacts?

Max

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what are you wanting to keep track of?

Besides the obvious names and contact info, what are you trying to keep track of? For me, I have contact info in 3 places: Gmail contacts, paper address book, and the Address Book program on my Mac. I find the Address Book program very easy to use and tend to keep that as my "Master Copy", but of course I was more or less limited to just looking up addresses on my computer until I signed up for Plaxo.com. Unfortunately, the main reason I signed up for that was to sync my Apple Address Book and my Gmail contacts. Turns out plaxo only supports the Google Calendar syncing, not contacts :-(

Sorry, I was getting off topic there. The most I've ever really needed to keep track of was who I have contacted, when, and what we talked about - mostly while I was looking for a new job. This could probably be done easily on a paper planner or journal. If you want to go the electronic route, on a Mac you can use the program Journler and drop in an address book contact. For example "Called Susie Smith about meeting on Thurs" or whatever...

I'm pretty sure you can do the same type of thing with the Windows-based app EverNote (free). It has Outlook integration, so I'd be surprised if it didn't allow you to do something like this. I'm sure there's something out there that is web based that would do what you want too.

I hope I've been at least a little help here.

-Kenny

Hi Kenny and thanx for your

Hi Kenny and thanx for your answer,

You are totally IN the topic!
I hoped than Plaxo synced Gcal contacts too but it doesn't... so I won't keep it as my final solution. And when you add an event and it syncs to Gcal, it doesn't activate the Gcal notifications (email/sms)...

Will my solution be electronic or not, online or offline? It will be a mix of them. But, it needs to be PC and Mac: I work on both and I travel a lot. So no programs, or Firefox plugins... Needs to be synced.
Unfortunatly I think contacts are (very) poorly managed (or prove me wrong, I'd like that) in Gmail or I wouldn't have any problem. I need to mention that actually I don't need a CRM but a PIM: Personal Information Manager.

What do I need to track? On the main page of Highrise (www.highrisehq.com), it says: "Who said what when? Track your contacts and communication history". That's it! That's what I want! But from what I read HighRise is too expensive for what it is. And I want to add family info like: brother of, son of...

I've tested BigContacts (a demo database is made so you can test free), it's great! But it seems you cannot search into the notes you make on your contacts (you can create as many notes on a contact as you want, which for me is great and respond mainly in what I need but is hard to find: Gmail doesn't do it, Plaxo neither...).
I've tested others (and am in the process of...) but Plaxo stays the best to import contacts, synced them and deal with them. Gosh where is the perfect solution? :p

I thought of having my hPDA on me as a second Adress Book where I'll write Contact Logs got from the DIYPlanner hPDA templates. Then sync it to:
- either another hand writed adress book, but A4 and with at least 1/3 of a page for each contact.
- or an online solution which is actually what I'm looking for. Obviously, a free one would be great, if I had the time I would do it myself. Actually, I considering an Google Excel Sheet: works on Mac and PC, is online, entirly configurable, searchable, and easily printable. Finally, as David Allen says: "All you need is lists". I want to list whatever I've done/said to/with whoever whenever.
I can afford a non free solution too: for 50$/y, if Plaxo were better (gcal sync etc...), I would pay for it. I don't find it expensive if the solution suits me and makes me feel good on how my contacts are managed.

Your solutions are great but to platform oriented to me. I might have a shot anyway. I hope my post hasn't be too long ;)

M

text files?

Most people either use PC or Macs, that's why I mentioned both options. But it sounds like you're really going to need to have something that works on both, which means paper, online, or maybe a PDA.

Is there anything you want to do that you couldn't do with a text file, or the Google Docs equivalent?

Another option, which may be complete overkill: Franklin Covey has an online version of their Plan Plus software. I just checked the pricing and it is $25 a month.

-Kenny

Hi Kenny, thank you again

Hi Kenny,

thank you again for your answer.
I'm going to check this Franklin Covey solution. Though 25$/m sounds expensive!

And... I think everything I want to do could finally be done with Google Docs, but that would have to exclude sync with Gmail Contacts (is their anything that can do that?) - non sync means one info is at several places, not good! - and update of contacts by themselves (congrats to Plaxo for that). I might give a shoot at a PDA, actually I'm waiting for the Sony Ericsson W960i which for me will be a phone + a camera + a PDA (+ voice recorder + inbox for GTD + iPod 8Go + etc.).

Why don't I look for PDA right now? Because I don't want to have two devices in my pocket. I bought a SE W810i because I needed a camera...

M

I take it...

...the free version of High Rise is not featured enough for you?

You've gotten me intrigued on this item. I'm going to try doing some of my own searching. I don't know that I need it--I always carry my Mac with me, and furthermore, print out those contacts I have meetings with. :-)

I shall be reporting on my findings, but maybe some more specifics on exactly what data you need to store/search.

BTW, have you looked into a TiddleyWiki or something similar? Also, how many names are you looking at? I've got over a thousand on my Mac, and the thought of trying to do what I do solely via web access makes my hair go grey! I could never do what I do without Now Contact/Up to Date. But I'm a bit unique... (only a bit?)

-Jon

Thankfully I don't have to

Thankfully I don't have to work cross-platform. My primary system is Windows. I spent YEARS going back and forth between different Contact and CRM and scheduling and task applications, and finally just threw in the towel. I'm currently using Outlook, with Business Contact Manager installed with it. (BCM is offered by Microsoft, and in not only merges with Outlook but also with the new Accounting 2007 -- formerly Small Business Accounting -- software as well.) I've given up everything else, and now keep my tasks, my calendar, my contacts, and my email all in Outlook. There are some new things in Outlook 2007 that make all this better and easier, especially in the way tasks are accessed and integrated. I use the tasks in Outlook primarily to track items that recur every year, like hosting and domain renewals. I also flag email from clients when they come in if there is something I have to deliver for it. Flagging an email automatically makes it a task, and it now appears in the task lists however you are viewing them. At the end of the day I can double check and compare between my paper system and Outlook to make sure I haven't forgotten anything that came through.

When I was using a PDA, I could export stuff to that for being mobile. I'm not using a PDA anymore, though, so now if I need some info for a meeting or something, I just print it out to go. With the Outlook system integrated with Accounting, I can even track jobs, job tasks, and billable time through Outlook, and then it is right there in Accounting when I go to do invoicing. And I can link documents to an account, a job, or a client if necessary.

I'm back to using paper for my daily planning and task tracking, but I've given up all my other computer based applications and just stick to Outlook. One place that holds everything, and my stress levels over trying to keep things synched up between applications or platforms is a thing of the past. I'm much calmer now. ;-)

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Lucky you!

Lucky you!

Hi Jon!

Hi Jon!

I have smt like 1500 emails, but some doubles and surely only a few hundreds needed. I might have a look at the free version of HighRise but I think that's not enough for me.
I found free (or cheap) solutions yesterday, with very interesting features (like Gmail Contacts synced!). Didn't test yet but sounds very interesting:
http://www.scheduleworld.com/
http://www.memotoo.com
http://www.hipcal.com/ *edit: not good, has been bought by Plaxo*
What solutions are you testing?

M

well...

none yet. I got side-tracked this evening, so haven't had a chance to do any digging.

I do see one difference between ourselves. I need double-addresses (postal) as well as multiple phones, as well as email. Also, I tend to do more CRM than simple tracking. This is where Now Contact (both Mac and Windows--and which I've used since the mid-'90s) has done well for me through the years. One trick that Now has that I forgot about, is web serving of calendars and, I think, contacts. If you can live with the upfront costs of Now, and you have server space to put it, this might be a solution, too.

However, I will admit, that between Now, and it's Mac-only Address-book sync, and my Apple dotMac, I'm pretty set--I think.... However, the links you have shared will give me a good jumping-off spot to look for others. :-)

-Jon

Gosh I was editing my

Gosh I was editing my comment but couldn't confirm because you answered in meantime... I lost what I had typed, anyway, wanted to tell you that my goal is to keep track of the "Who said what when?". Like if I meet Mr X. and tell him "Hey Mr X, how is your fridge you bought 3 years ago? Yeah just before me met at the Stuff club with Mr Y, remember? Oh and How's Peter your son, still wanna be a fireman? ;)". Wanna do that personnaly and professionnaly.
Of course I need multiple adress, phones, multiple everything, etc.. too.
If I choose an online solution any note I make should be searchable, like in the Franklin Covey solution, but not like in BigContacts. Didn't try on Plaxo becauise you have the only unique "Notes" box for each contact. I obviously want infinite Notes for each contact.

On a whim

I tried out Yahoo's address book, and it seems rather extensive, and the notes are searchable. The key for what you want to do is to find good keywords that you can use for searching as well.

Also, although I haven't had time to check it out, I just found:
zexer.com.

It seems to be rather attractive, but I don't know how flexible/powerful it is. :-) I'm about to look for online CRM, which seems to be more what you need.

-Jon

Fundemental questions

Max said ...

I have smt like 1500 emails, but some doubles and surely only a few hundreds needed.

I presume you mean that you have 1,500 email addresses --- some of us receive 1,500 messages a day --- and this raises the question of what you are trying to do with all these addresses. Are they business or private?

If all business contacts then your employers should really have control of them and be storing them in the corporate CRM system or at least in something like an LDAP data store. Your employer's IT security staff ought to be very worried about you storing corporate information outside of the corporation's control be it in Plaxo or similar --- let alone the potential breach of EU data protection legislation with you doing trans-border information exchange.

If they are your own contacts and all you want to do is weed out duplicates and non-responsives then I'd dump the Outlook (?) address into a spreadsheet and clean the addresses up manually. Though I'd be amazed at a personal contacts list of 1,500 people.

If a mix of business and private then your IT security people might be very interested in what you are doing keeping private information on corporate machines or corporate information on a private machine.

Potential SPAM alert

at least one of the web sites mentioned in the original post is a link farm, not a genuine site. I didn't check the second one after that (notice, it's "plexo.com," not "plaxo.com").

So, beware where you send your browser from the original post on this thread.

OK thank you, I've modified.

OK thank you, I've modified.

Thanks!

Especially because, now I can see what High Rise is all about! ;-)

Do I understand you correctly, that you are looking for something platform agnostice, and accessible via the web?

That may be difficult. If you were Mac-only, I would actually suggest a dotMac account. All my Mac Address Book data is easily accessible on my online address book, plus it's backed up if ever my Mac crashes. When I've been out traveling, it's also served as a wonderful backup to check data, etc.

This conversation has gone a long ways since I last picked it up, and I need to read further before I say any more, though. ;-)

-Jon

"something platform

"something platform agnostice"
Yes! That's why Excel (Google Docs) might do the work. Or any paper based system. But, I'd prefer some automatic system which would be
"accessible via the web"
Yeah! If Gmail had more features in contact management, that would be... perfect - I already use Gmail and Gcal. I could consider using the unique Notes box... I might do that if I don't find smt else more attractive...

Spam may not be the only problem

Personally I don't use any of these hosted contact sites because most seem to be based in the US and I'm in Europe. The data protection laws are much stricter here in Europe, which if I've found the right "maxsnet" via Google and other search systems that would apply to him too. The US has more lax laws about these things than those of in the EU are required to follow.

Max's Net

Hi, yeah I don't know any other maxsnet on internet and at least the 2 first pages of google are me... just checked.
If you know European site that do the job, I'd be glad to know them!
Have a nice day,

M

None to my knowledge

If you know European site that do the job, I'd be glad to know them!

I'm not aware of any that are based in Europe (and therefore comply with EU legislation). But then I am not one for allowing easy traffic analysis either so haven't bothered to look for any.

You don't use them....

You don't use them.... so.... what do you use?

K.I.S.S.

For phone contacts I use my mobile, for email I use the pine (*) address book. For back up of the phone I grab the numbers to my laptop. Elsewhere on here I've written that I gave up using the contacts pages of my organiser. I prefer to have the information at the poiint of use --- hence phone numbers on mobile and emails in emailer address book. (I never write letters.)

(*) I distrust HTMLised email so use a text-only emailer. No chance of it making out-bound requests to spam/porn sites.

Hi. I've gone low-tech for

Hi.
I've gone low-tech for this information. After my last Palm died I converted the backup database file to an excel spreadsheet and printed it out landscape. I then trim and fold it into something the size of the PocketMod and keep it in my wallet. The back side of the page is blank. When an address changes I scratch it out on the front and put the new one on the back. I update it rarely, but at least I always have a copy handy when I need it. :)

Ok, @rebecca and

Ok,

@rebecca and @reepicheep,
how do you - if you - keep track of "Who said what when?" and family info (brother of, etc...) ?
Thanx,

M

Lifelines

For family info I use the LifeLines genealogical database program (open source too).

As for any general "who said what when" record --- well I don't. I am not a natural reflector and don't bother to keep a journal; as I've mentioned here before. I've read enough of the journalling literature (especially the pseudo-science coming out of university education departments) to know that it's not something I require. Indeed the more of that pro-journalling stuff I read the less enamoured of the whole thing I become.

If I'm attending a business meeting then I was will take unofficial miutes --- to compare to the official version later --- but otherwise it's all in my head. And I never volunteer to take the official minutes; dylexia has its benefits.

Everything in my contacts

Everything in my contacts list is a field in an excel spreadsheet.
I have two fields for "notes". One I use for relationship (brother of, etc...) and the other I use for miscellaneous info.
The style of the thing forces me to be as brief as possible; which helps me a lot.