May 5, 2005

Keeping in touch

May 5, 2005 - Categories: emacs, organizer, productivity

How can I keep in touch with other people?

One way is to call people up or write them a friendly note every so often. I find this difficult to do because I'm still not used to small talk. I'm also not used to being interrupted for a purely social call unless it's someone I know well. I'm much more comfortable dealing with information. I want to be useful.

First, I need to keep track of people's interests. When I run across something that might be useful for them, I can send them the information. If I also keep track of other little facts I know about people, then I can make them feel a little more special.

Second, I should regularly refresh my contacts. I should make sure I keep in touch with people. Maybe I should set goals for how often I should get in touch with different kinds of people. There are people I don't expect further contact with, there are people I should write at least once a year, and there are people I'd like to correspond with more frequently.

The next step would be to proactively search for useful information. If I periodically read about other people's interests, I will not only learn many new things and gain more common ground with them, but might also find resources they haven't run across before.

WHAT I CURRENTLY HAVE:

I already keep notes on people in my BBDB (Big Brother Database, Emacs). BBDB makes it easy for me to associate notes with e-mail. Whenever I read a message from someone in my address book, the BBDB record pops up and I can review or add notes easily.

However, I don't regularly review these contacts or make a conscious effort to stay in touch with a wide range of people. I tend to react instead of act, and I'd like to change that.

WHAT I'D LIKE TO HAVE:

I would like to be able to see my contacts grouped by relative frequency. This would allow me to flip through, say, all the people I have yet to contact this year, and randomly pick people to get in touch with. I need to also keep track of our last few communications, in terms of both when I got in touch with that person and when I got a reply.

I would like to be able to see my contacts grouped by interest. I can achieve the same effect by searching through the records for a particular keyword. This would allow me to easily look up all the people I should get in touch with regarding a particular topic.

I would like to be able to create tasks based on each contact or group of contacts. I should be able to list all the tasks associated with a particular person as well as see the tasks on my day page, perhaps under the "social" context.

WHAT I CAN DO:

First, I should add two fields to my BBDB records to keep track of the last time I spoke/wrote to the person and the last time I received a reply. I can probably configure Gnus to update this automatically for mail, although I can also do that myself. I can also add an entry for maximum days without contact, or something like that.

I can add another field called "Next action", which keeps track of the next thing I can do for that person.

I can write Emacs Lisp code to extract all the relevant information from BBDB and prioritize the list.

Hmmm. Sounds useful.

最近コンピュータ用の新しい机を買いました。 I just bought a new desk for my computer.

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