"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Simplicity
June 6, 2016

This Week I Quit 79 People

This week I quit on 79 people. What does that mean? Well, I deleted 79 contacts from my iCloud (Apple) address book. This is something I do from time to time, but it’s been a few years since the last cull, so the time has come to quit on these relationships. How Big Is Your […]

This week I quit on 79 people. What does that mean? Well, I deleted 79 contacts from my iCloud (Apple) address book. This is something I do from time to time, but it’s been a few years since the last cull, so the time has come to quit on these relationships.

How Big Is Your Circle

How many people do you have in your address book? Years ago, I remember talking to someone who was nervously switching computer platforms. They were desperately worried about losing their contacts list. They claimed to have over 2000 contacts, which at the time struck me as a bit excessive. Now I realise if I’d diligently kept the details from every business card, every person I’ve spoken to on the phone or corresponded with via email, then my contacts list would be just as huge, if not bigger!

But, that’s never been my way.

I’ve always looked at my address book as something smaller, more personal, more reflective of the relationships that I’m actively maintaining. There’s a natural hierarchy. Family and friends of course. Beyond that people I’ve met and would like to get to know better. Business I’ve dealt with and will deal with again. Medical and other professionals whose help I might need in the future.

But, why keep the details for people who aren’t going to be part of the future? Folks whose work or behaviour means I’m never likely to speak to them again? I would rather save devote the space to relationships that have and will continue to flourish.

Your Digital Footprint

Growing up in the pre-internet days, having someone’s contact details was precious commodity, something hard won, not given up easily. In some places that’s still true. I have details for travel guides and fixers in remote locations whose details I couldn’t find in a month of internet searches.

But, so much contact information is easy to find now. And, people change companies so much that just because you knew someone at a company once, it’s no guarantee they will still be there in a few years time.

And, there are other digital tools available for managing the wider circles. LinkedIn does some of this and mailing lists (I host mine at MailChimp) are good as well. Then there’s social media of course.

Criteria For The Quit

I like to embrace the feeling of going through my contacts list. I want to feel good reading the names, I want my senses to be flooded with memories and positive emotions as I remember talking to each person.

But, some names immediately elicit an awkward pause. OK, so we did business a few years ago, but it was so difficult that I would rather be attacked by wolves than do that again. Yes, the keeping the details of medical practitioners is generally a good idea, but am I really going to hold to the contact info for the dentist how didn’t pick up the problem in the aching tooth I asked him to look at, the same one that cracked while eating popcorn a year later?

And, what do I with the people who I wrote to when my book was coming out, the ones who didn’t reply, or worse, like one person who spent the whole book launch week pimping other books and websites about creativity that were “really worth looking at.” Then of course, there are the folks who seem to be able to turn every conversation, or even email exchange into some fraught, cynical, or emotionally hulking mess.

In so many ways, the cull list selects itself.

Scrubbing Emails

For Mac Mail users one little quirk is that deleting people from your contacts list doesn’t automatically scrub them from the email address autofill feature. It’s also likely you have a lot of people on the autofill list that might never have even made it into your address book.

To clean this up you have to go Window>Previous Recipients and manually delete names and addresses. You can reorder the list if you want to start with addresses you haven’t used in a few years. Be careful because once you click the Remove From List button, there doesn’t seem to be any undo option, either in the menus, or by using command+Z.

Fewer And Deeper Relationships

After working with a writing coach and my trip to New York last year, I’ve become more intentional about making myself available to the people who are interested in my work, the people who have supported me in the past and the fellow creatives and makers that I consider to be friends, peers and mentors.

This week’s quit isn’t actually about the contacts that were deleted. It’s about celebrating the contacts I kept on the list, about realising that I’m far from alone in the life, about looking forward to wonderful conversations in the future.

This Week I Quit is a weekly series where I try, in a personal way, to address the habit of overcommitment. Each week I quit something, it could be an app, a habit, a possession, a word, anything that had a hold on my attention. I explain why I made the choice to quit and what it was like. Last week I quit I Quit Being A Food Blogger and you can read all the posts in this series here.

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