My buddy Kurt recently asked me how do I manage my contacts? He knew that I use a lot of custom and 3rd party apps, but in case of contact management, simple iOS contacts app did the trick. It has just enough functionality so it can provide a “hacked” window for the extra functionality that I need out of it.
Contacts are directly connected with “People” contexts inside of my Omnifocus 2 and Evernote Wiki Notes with the help of internal links, also known as URL Schematics. Where each important person has its own Omnifocus context and an Evernote note. These links are fully clickable and take you to the application regardless of the Apple device that you currently use. These links will work on your iPhone, iPad and your Mac, so no need for compromises. This kinda connects rather well with my custom made perspectives of Omnifocus, and it relates very well to my thoughts on Evernote and Omnifocus integration that. The most important aspect of this setup is that it is platform agnostic.
Every important contact is a Wiki related to that person. I’ve compiled these wiki’s in such a way, that these contacts create a network of notes that are directly interlinked with each other. This allows me to can navigate my contacts graph like a champ, gaining access to rich media, audio notes as well as reminders about the things that these contacts need to do for me, or what I owe them.
Contact related information in a single note with a reverse chronological order
This trick that was not only a way for me and Darren to reduce the number of documents, it works the same for Evernote as well. Reverse chronological order reminds me of the newsfeed, and it gives you the newest information on the person right at the top, pushing historical information further down.
There are a few navigational links above “the feed” and permanent data, that allows me to observe it contextually, sometimes containing links to important documents related to that particular person. But reverse chronological order is nothing without the good timestamps. Time stamps are there to remind me of the freshness of the information, or how delayed some things are. These timestamps would be pretty much impossible if it wasn’t for Text Expander snippets. Super short snippets that expand to the full data (and time) are amazing way to quickly time to the local “newsfeed”.
Quick import of contact related information into your favorite task manager
Even though Evernote has reminders feature, it is not something that I’ve learned to rely upon. With the advent of iOS8 native sharing, you will be able to connect your contact related notes with your active database from your task manager, and keep the content of your contact notes with your tasks. Mostly in cases where your task manager is supporting native sharing that came with iOS8.
This proves to be quite useful when you need to act on the data, like birthdays for example. I keep tabs on my friends favorite colors, and their gift lists, so I can easily connect my knowledge base at the time of the execution of the tasks.
Creating Wiki’s Out Of Your Contacts
Your closest friends and associates will create substantially larger number of connections in your mind, and keeping track of all these ideas can lead to a single note being a bit confusing, and cluttered. For that matter, some of my contacts have internal links within a note, leading to a sub-note related to that specific contact, especially my close friends.
Tasks are a sketchy part of the notes, as they really belong in a task manager. Hence, for the sake of convenience, I also keep hyper links towards Omnifocus specific people contexts, inside of their respective notes. I am aware that I am keeping this link inside of the contacts app as well, but sometimes, as I am inside of the note, I’ve found myself wanting to switch to the task manager mode, as commitments would pop into my mind. This would seamlessly transfer me to the appropriate software.
In addition to individual Wikis, some contacts are closely related, therefore, for them I’ve created specific notes that contain hyperlinks to all contextually related contacts. There is my coworkers list that I have, and note containing every coworker in fact contains a link to the “parent” note, so you can easily tap back and forth between them. This has helped me navigate, as I’ve been adding stuff to one coworker, and than suddenly remembering something related to another person within the same group.
Next Steps towards connected tasks and ideas
At this point, I believe you are starting from scratch, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. My database was built over the course of years, and the only reason why it worked for me, was due to the fact that I’ve took my time to build habits that would enable it’s growth. It is useful to think how your mind thinks, and build the knowledge dashboard that is matching your thought patterns.
Over the course of years my notes started to resemble the connections inside of my brain. This is happening when you spend enough time inside of your software. This knowledge graph is a physical representation of your thoughts. Going through it proves to be useful, as it represents your already existing connections, further strengthening them and enabling you to do more. Tools are only as powerful as we make them, and sometimes, instead of waiting someone else to make things for you, you do it on your own.