When Dad passed away a few years back, Mom handed us middle-aged kids his address book. From his neatly penciled telephone numbers we called relatives and friends. When it was my turn, I held the brown, faux-leather book and turned the alpha-tabbed pages gently. How recently had Dad’s fingers turned these same pages? How often had his friends, leaving behind loved homes, called him so he could have their new telephone numbers? I admired the simplicity of the pencil-scratched contacts; I was enchanted by this lost art of record keeping.
Back at home I purchased my own version of the leather-bound address book, and painstakingly penciled in names and addresses of family and friends. Some I pulled from my personal and professional email, some from spreadsheets and word documents, and others from labels, printed but never used. For several years these addresses lived in my purse, and in that way, my Dad accompanied me on life’s journey.
Years passed and my handwritten address book moved from a leather binder to a plastic pouch. As my memories softened with age, the pages wore thin and penciled words blurred, leaving gray shadows where once were words.
Last year, I decided to turn back to a technological solution, but in doing so, was determined to solve a few problems that had plagued me in the past. I wanted:
- All of my addresses in one, easy-to-update application,
- The ability to create labels or merge with word processing,
- To carry the addresses with me constantly, never forgetting it, never leaving it behind.
- Access to addresses from work, home, or hotels, and
- A transferable format for uploads and downloads (.txt or .csv)
Many will find my solution a bit old-fashioned, but in a nod to my father, I think it is a simple, elegant solution that he would appreciate.
Here are my steps:
- Using a spreadsheet on a single laptop or PC, create one row for each person’s information. Spreadsheet applications can merge with word processing and can be saved in .txt and .csv formats. Issues 1, 2 and 5: resolved.
- Then I email the spreadsheet to my cell phone’s email account. This is the same account I access at work, at home and when traveling. Issues 3 and 4: resolved.
- The added benefit, is I can open the spreadsheet on my cell phone and click an email address to spawn a note, or click a phone number to make a call.
Maintaining my new system is easier than penciling a new entry in a leather-bound book. I update the spreadsheet, email it to myself, and delete the obsolete email. Within minutes I have an up-to-date address book.
So simple and stream-lined, even Dad would have approved.