Keeping in touch

| 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.


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.


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

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.


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.

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