Get Organized: 7 Ways to Automatically Organize Contacts
Is your address book a complete disaster? Here are some ways to automatically make your list of contacts a little more organized.
How many email addresses do you use? How many contacts databases do you have as a result? Keeping your address book current is a pain, as it requires frequent updating. Luckily, there are some ways to automate the process of updating and backing up your list of contacts.
Here I'll share with you seven ways you can automatically organize your list of contacts. Five of the tricks use IFTTT, a free website and service that stands for "if this, then that." IFTTT works like this: You authorize it to have access to different online accounts that you use, such as Gmail, Evernote, iOS Contacts, and so forth. Then you create "if this, then that" scenarios (or "recipes," as they're called) that the service carries out. I'll show you some examples in a moment. You don't need to know how to code or write scripts to create the recipes. It's really very simple.
I prefer to use the IFTTT website on a full-sized computer or laptop screen, but there is an IFTTT iPhone app and a recently released IFTTT Android app if you prefer working on a mobile device.
So here are five ways to use IFTTT (and two bonus ways using tools other than IFTTT) to help you organize, back up, and generally maintain your address book. Sign up for a free IFTTT account, and look for these recipes in the "Browse" section of the site. You'll notice that the recipes included here are similar in nature, but utilize different services. For more suggestions for automations, see 101 Best ifttt Recipes.
1. If New Gmail Email Arrives, Then Add 'From Address' to Google Drive Enable this recipe and when a new Gmail message arrives, you'll automatically have a record of the sender's email address added to a Google Drive spreadsheet. In testing this recipe, I noticed that you will get duplicates, which is kind of annoying and less than ideal. If you have an intelligent, automated way to de-dupe this list, please share it in the comments!
2. If New Contact is Added to iOS Contacts, Then Add 'From Address' to Google Drive This automation works the same as the one before it, except it uses iOS Contacts rather than new incoming Gmail messages. As a result, it doesn't suffer from the duplicate problem stated above. On the down side, it's only intended for Apple users.
3. If New Contact is Added to iOS Contacts, Then Invite to Connect on LinkedIn Turn on this recipe, and it will help you maintain your database of LinkedIn connections. You can use it in addition to other iOS Contact recipes (you're not limited to just one), but again, only if you're an Apple user.
4. If a New Email Arrives in Gmail, Then Append the Sender's Email Address to a Note in Evernote This recipe is the only one on this list that wasn't pre-made in IFTTT and available in the "Browse" section, but I've shared it, so it should be publicly available now. As with the previous Gmail recipe (number one on this list), you'll have duplicate entries as new emails arrive, but at least you'll have a backup of your contacts.
5. If New Contact is Added to iOS Contacts, Then Append Note to Evernote Here's another one for iOS users. Backup your iOS contacts to Evernote. As written, this recipe will capture the sender's name, phone number, email address, address, affiliation (organization/company), job title, notes, and date added. You can edit the recipe to exclude any of those fields if you like.
Two Bonus Tricks While IFTTT is an excellent service that's easy to use, I have a two other tactics for organizing contact information.
6. Forward Messages to a Custom Variation of Your Gmail Address One uses an old Gmail trick. Periods in your Gmail address, it turns out, don't affect mail from being delivered to you. So, NameSurname@gmail.com and Name.Surname@gmail.com both deliver to the same account. The trick, then, is to set up a rule in Gmail that filters different variations on your Gmail address. I set up a rule such that if incoming mail is sent to my personal Gmail address with two specially placed periods in the name, the message skips the inbox and is labeled "Contacts." I use that address when I get an email sent to my work address that from someone who is also becoming a personal contact: I forward the message to my special variation Gmail address or reply. The result is that those people and the email history are now in my personal Gmail, totally searchable, but tucked out of sight from my inbox.
7. Auto Add to Contacts Incoming and Existing Email A second trick is to use the free app EasilyDo for Android or EasilyDo for iPhone. It's a personal assistant app with dozens of automations that you can optionally enable. It has an automation called Contact Information, which looks for new and existing contact information from email accounts that you give it permission to access. It then adds the people it finds to you Contacts, Evernote, Salesforce, and LinkedIn accounts, or whichever of those you choose. EasilyDo usually recognizes when a contact already exists, getting rid of the duplication problem I noted in some of the other automations, and it even has a de-duping automation you can run to clean up your existing contacts.
Keeping your contacts organized, backed up, and up to date is one of those chores that requires some upkeep. But when you automate that upkeep, there's virtually no work left on your shoulders.