How to declutter your life: contact list edition
October 26, 2018 / Networking / Greg Atkinson
It might seem strange for a networking app to give advice on how to declutter your contact list. You’d think we would want you to add as many people as possible. We talk often about how adding just one more person could connect you with thousands of useful new contacts. But therein lies the rub. At Kalido, we encourage real connections and genuine relationships. So, we don’t encourage saving thousands of vaguely remembered contacts. We encourage staying in contact with the people who actually matter. In other words: quality contacts over quantity, both on and offline.
In this post, we talk about why you should be more selective about your contact list, who you don’t need on it, and how to stay better connected with the people who actually matter.
Why should you prioritise quality over quantity:
1) Privacy and security
When you’ve given thousands of minor acquaintances access to your personal data, you’re putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. For example, photos and location check ins show where you like to hang out, which makes it easier to stalk you. People also often use their birthdays, or their spouse or children’s birthdays, or their address as bank account or phone codes. Many unscrupulous people know this, and could use this information for criminal purposes. Even seemingly innocuous information can be used to find out more about your personal life. So, you should be careful about who has access to your data.
2) Time management
You have a finite amount of time each day to spend with the people you care about. If you’re like most people, you’ll probably have a couple of hours in the evening between finishing work and getting to bed. And those precious weekends. That’s really not a lot of time, so you should be picky about who you spend it with. This article brilliantly sums up why you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin, but should make the most of your time with the people who really matter.
3) Storage space
You’ll be saving a small, but not insignificant, amount of space across your devices by thinning out your contact list and deleting old conversations. Let’s be honest, there are some people you know you’ll never contact again anyway, so why keep their details?
OK, so who needs to go?
a) One-time service providers
You may have shopped around for a building contractor, hairstylist, babysitter, designer etc. etc. and saved the details of all the candidates before ultimately picking someone (pro tip: ask your Kalido contacts for an introduction next time to save yourself the trouble). Once you’ve found your preferred supplier, you’ll probably end up using them for years. In this case, you don’t want to keep all the others around to potentially confuse you when you need the service again. You can safely delete ‘Plumber 1’, ‘Plumber 2’, and ‘Plumber 3’ from your contact list, since you already have your trusty go-to guy (or gal).
b) One-time acquaintances
You met once at drinks with mutual friends. You had a good time and floated the idea of meeting up again in the future. Of course, you never did. You have 2 options here: make good on your intention to see each other again and upgrade them to a friend, or let them go. If you have each other as Kalido contacts, you’ll be notified whenever you’re in the same area, which means you can grab an impromptu coffee – making the former option much easier.
Some people like to keep exes in their lives, and some people are genuinely friends with their exes. Ex-partners that you’re genuinely friends with are ‘friends’, so that’s not who we’re talking about here. We’re talking about those people you’d rather have root canal than bump into, or people you haven’t thought about in years. If they’re not playing an active positive role in your life now, remove them from your contact list. This is good for your own sanity, and shows respect for your current or future partner.
d) Ex-partners of friends
Again, if you became genuine friends – keep them. If you only tolerated these people because of loyalty to your friend – delete them. You may be unwittingly compromising your friend’s safety and security by giving someone they’re no longer close to access to their information through you.
e) Duplicate contact details
When people moved around, you may have created multiple entries for ‘John UK’, ‘John US’, ‘John temp cell’. Take some time to consolidate all of these entries into one, and delete the redundant numbers.
And while you’re at it, you might want to create a uniform system for all contacts e.g. ‘John [full surname]’ instead of just ‘John A’. This makes it easier to find your contacts, as contact lists are usually alphabeticized. Also collate all the information you have on contacts together, so you have their mobile number, email, maybe even home address under one entry.
f) People on inappropriate platforms
Your clients don’t need to have access to your holiday beach bod pics. So, instead of adding everyone you know to every platform you use, be selective about who you have where. Certain platforms are more appropriate for social networking, while others are better for professional networking.
Having said that, Kalido is designed to let you safely consolidate both social and professional contacts in one space. Because the information you’re encouraged to share is about your skills and interests (not your personal life), and you can strictly control who sees this information, it’s one of the few platforms where you won’t have to worry about an inappropriate audience having access to private stuff.
How to keep the people who matter around:
i) Set aside time
Like anything else important, you have to prioritise the people that matter. Instead of squeezing family or friends in when you have a spare moment, consciously make time for them. Startling research shows that the average couple spends just 30 minutes a day together. And social surveys suggest that only about 11% of us get to see our friends at least once a week. To give quality time with important people the priority it deserves, you could think about adding it as an item to your daily or weekly To Do list.
ii) Consider a rotating system
Even by being selective, you might not get to everyone. This is because of limited time, or because you end up seeing the same people. Consider seeing friends on a rotating system. This way, you won’t be neglecting anyone, and can keep multiple relationships warm.
iii) Take advantage of spontaneous opportunities
Even in your busy life, you sometimes have a couple of unexpected hours to kill. Perhaps you’re waiting for your flight, a meeting finished early, something got cancelled, or you’re just having an unproductive day and need to take some time off. Take advantage of these opportunities by arranging spontaneous catch-ups. The Nearby feature on Kalido is particularly useful for this. Simply scroll through all your Nearby contacts, and decide who you’d like to see. You’ll be surprised how gratified people will be that you’ve taken the initiative to reach out.
iv) Make yourself available
You should also make yourself available, so other people can reach out to you. Kalido lets you set your current location, and features you in your Kalido contacts’ Nearby tab. This means that your contacts will see when you’re in their area, so they can grab you for an impromptu coffee. If you’re particularly interested in meeting new clients, you should also set your availability (and rates) on your profile, so Kalido can match you with relevant people.
v) Check in regularly
If too much time has gone by since you’ve last been in contact with someone, it can feel awkward to break the ice. You almost have to re-introduce yourself, and look for common ground again. Checking in regularly with your friends and acquaintances (who may end up becoming friends) will ensure that the relationship stays warm and comfortable. You can check out your contacts’ Kalido profiles to see what they’re currently doing, so you can ignite a conversation over something that’s relevant to them now.
You should do this for both professional and social contacts. For example, reach out to clients you haven’t worked with in a while to update them on new skills or services you offer, and see whether you can be of service. Or if you remember a business idea from a colleague you were shooting the breeze with, follow up to see how they’re getting on with it. For social contacts, see if someone wants to grab a bite to eat. And don’t forget your family. It might be nice to see your parents or cousins soon.
Many people hang on to contacts they don’t need out of guilt, nostalgia, or because it feeds their ego. None of these reasons is very healthy. If you’re reluctant to delete someone because of guilt, perhaps you should identify the cause of the guilt and make amends in a constructive way, instead of having a constant reminder in your contact list. If you’re nostalgic over a relationship – reach out and make that connection relevant again. And if you just need a ego boost, you might like to know that spending time with people you care about and who care about you is one of the best things you can do for your self esteem, health, and mood. So, stay connected with the people who matter, and let go of the ones that don’t.