Tuesday, July 24, 2007

phone numbers

I had a scary moment last night while standing at a client's front door waiting to be let in for an evening work session. When there was no answer to my repeated knocks, I pulled out my cell phone to call the client's home number (maybe she was upstairs and couldn't hear me knocking? She'd already told me the doorbell didn't work).

I reached back into my bag to pull out my datebook... and realized with a sinking feeling that I'd left it at home on my desk. Luckily I still had my all-purpose notebook with me, into which I usually enter all client info. I easily found her number and dialed it. But the episode gave me pause: What if I had really left home without that phone number?

Many people rely on PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) - those small, hand-held electronic calendars and information databases like Palm and Blackberry - to manage their address books and phone numbers. When combined with mobile telephone and wireless internet functions, they literally allow you to have the world at your fingertips.

For the less-digitally-inclined among us, however, there is still old-fashioned paper. (In fact, it's always a good idea to have paper back-up for those times when the electronics fail. And they WILL fail...)

But how do you realistically (i.e. easily) manage all the phone numbers you need on a day-to-day basis? And how do you ensure that you always HAVE the numbers you need, close at hand?

I ran into a problem a couple of weeks ago when I was delayed at a client's and realized I was going to have to cancel a date I'd planned for later in the evening. My new friend and I had exchanged cell phone numbers, but I hadn't transferred his number to my datebook or cell phone - it was still sitting on my computer, in an e-mail he had sent me. (Luckily he called MY cell phone at the time we were supposed to meet, and I was able to cancel without too much hassle).

I now enter numbers into my cell phone as soon as I get them. I can easily delete them when I no longer need them. My new process is as follows: When I get a phone number (usually from a voice message left on my phone), I write it on a Post-it Note along with the name and other pertinent information.

The Post-it goes into my go-everywhere notebook. I then MAKE TWO COPIES OF THE POST-IT - one for my datebook, and one for my home address book. And I put the number into my cell phone. Odds are I won't loose ALL of those resources all at once. (Knock wood.)

My home address book, by the way, consists of THREE three-ring binders. One contains active personal numbers, a second contains active business numbers, and the third is an archive. Each book has alphabetical tabs, and one page for every contact. It's very low-tech: I just punch holes in a scrap piece of printer paper from my recycling tray (reduce, reuse and recycle!), staple a business card (if I've been given one) to the page, and stick Post-its with contact info onto each page as well. The full page gives me lots of room to make notes if I need to (handy when I'm keeping track of appointments or significant dates).

I haven't had much need for a computerized contact management system yet (although I sense that need is coming). At that point I'll probably add a spreadsheet step to whole the process.

copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow


Dave Brodbeck said...

I have all of that stuff on my Palm, and it synchs to my macs at home and work. Plus my calendar is published to the net, so my students can see when I am in class (big waste of time, dropping by my office if I am not there, though my door is hilariously entertaining...)

I can access all of my phone numbers that way too. I change it on the PDA and it changes everywhere. That said, I still want a freaking iPhone...

Anonymous said...


Paul Flask said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Flask said...

Another good article about reverse cell phone lookup services:

Jack said...

Here is an interesting article about a free cell phone directory that can be used to trace phone numbers in USA. Check it out!

Tommy said...

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