Yesterday I had a major clear-out of my contact list, deleting over 70 contacts. I have just the one contact list, hosted by Google and attached to my Gmail account, that I keep in sync between my devices. This means that it’s full of both work contacts and friends.
I’ve essentially had the same address book since 2005, when I first got a Mac, and in the almost nine years since people have come and gone from both my personal and professional lives. With the total number of contacts exceeding 500, I decided it was probably about time for a clear-out.
For personal contacts, I went through each one and tried to remember when was the last time I saw or spoke to them (this includes interactions on social media). If I couldn’t remember, then they were deleted. If I could remember but it was years ago, or it’s somebody that I don’t speak to anymore for whatever reason (friends’ ex-partners for example), then, again, delete.
For work colleagues, I mostly focussed on those that have left the organisation I work for. For some, I’m still in touch, so these were kept. Others I had a non-work email address or mobile number, so I kept some of those, for now at least. But for some I only had their no-longer-functional work email address and phone number, so they were removed.
Another category was ‘people I follow on Google+ but have otherwise no connection to’. There are a few of these – namely celebrities – which Google has added to my address book for some reason. They have been removed as well.
Overall I’ve reduced the size of my contact list by about 15%, making it a little more manageable. There’s no point in keeping people in there if you no longer speak to them, and the contact methods you have no longer work – old mobile numbers, or student email addresses from old acquaintances who have long since graduated.
In some respects it’s quite liberating removing people that you never really cared about in the first place, or you’ve grown apart from. On the other hand, for some people there’s a niggling feeling that maybe I should have made more effort to stay in touch. But people change – especially young people – and sometimes you just drift apart from people and need to let go.