How to Organize All Those Business Cards and Addresses

Where do you keep your pile of addresses? Are they stuffed in an ancient envelope or scattered in amongst your paperwork? Perhaps you have a special pretty box where you collect them so they’re ready for that glorious day when you’re finally ready to Get Organized.

It’s not just you. We all keep old addresses torn off the envelopes of Christmas cards. Email addresses scribbled down on scraps of paper.  Business cards so old they list telex numbers. And why do we save all this precious contact information? Because we want to get or keep in touch but we haven’t and we don’t.

This Saturday, can you grab your pile (or find an address you’ve saved) and take a look at it? Just pick a random scrap of paper. Can you take a few minutes right now to contact that person? Write a quick note or email saying something like this:

“Hey Friend,

Just realizing I haven’t been in touch for ages (that covers everyone, from the person you met at a business lunch last week to the friend from high school you haven’t talked to in thirty years), wondering how you’re doing?



One of two things will happen at this point. Either you’ll realize you have lots more to say (Since we last talked, I’ve had six children/climbed Mount Everest/moved halfway across the world and ended right back here in our hometown).

Or you’ll realize that you really have nothing to say to them. Maybe you can’t even remember who they are, or how you met them. Maybe you’ve been meaning to send them a return Christmas card for years. That tattered scrap of yellowing paper is the last thread of connection with them.

Toss it, shred it, recycle it, stick it in the bottom of the bird cage. Feel the weight of that obligation to maintain a non-existent connection lift from your shoulders.

If you’re feeling really brave, pick another address and see how you feel about that one too.

If you do decide to keep an address or a card, you can stay old school and jot the details down in an address book, or you could save the contacts in your email. Business cards can be stapled into the address book or tossed once you’ve got the email address entered in your phone or email contacts. I prefer paper simply because phones have a nasty habit of sticking to their pre-programmed planned obsolescence, causing you to lose all your contacts.  But do whatever makes sense to you.

The important thing, as with all organizing, is to uncover the why. Why am I keeping these addresses? Because I want to be in touch with these people. So let’s do that! This past month of recovery from serious surgery has shown me that connection is where it’s at. As a wise friend remarked, we waste 50 years not sending cards to each other.

If you wrote a card or an email a week, that’d be 52 connections a year – what a gift that would be to yourself and the recipient.

Let’s either start sending the cards, texting the messages and writing the emails or be done with the guilt and get rid of the pending address pile already.

Drowning in paper clutter? Contact Joyful Surroundings LLC for compassionate, creative, and totally nonjudgmental decluttering & organizing services.

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