My New Rules for Contact Management

I've been noticing in my Outlook contacts that there's a lot of dead wood – namely, people who I have no clue who they are, or who I think it's extremely unlikely I'll speak to again (if I do, we can exchange business cards (or Poken, perhaps – I ordered one on Rohit Bhargava's suggestion).

Tim Sanders recently wrote about "dropping a few email pounds," a great visual, and he noted how bloated Outlook gets. I've been trimming the fat here.

In case it's helpful, here are the criteria I use:

  • Some contacts just have an email address, no name. Nearly 100% of these were scraped from some contact management software like LinkedIn's plugin. I delete almost all of these, though a few I do edit and file properly.
  • Sometimes I just have the name and email address. I delete the vast majority of these – they're people who I never bothered to even enter a company name.
  • Sometimes I forget how I know people and there are notes, or a link to their LinkedIn profile denoting we're connected. I keep almost all of these.
  • There are a handful of people, such as distant college acquaintances, who I'm not in touch with and don't plan to be, so however complete their contact information is (it's likely outdated), I can afford to let those go.

Based on these criteria, I've cut a couple hundred contacts in recent months, and I've cut far more than I've added – which feels good right now, as it provides some focus on people who I should remain in touch with.

Do you do this contact paring? Have any rules to share?