Cleaning Up My Contact List (Digital Decluttering Project #2)

Did you know there is a direct link to google contacts?  MUCH faster than going to gmail and finding the contacts tab - 

Let me start out by saying there is no magic app, tool, or website that does this for you.  Trust me.  I spent a couple of hours looking, and I could have had my entire address book cleaned out AND this post typed in that amount of time.

Feel Free To Skip My Ramble & Go The Next Heading

I love the idea of a paper address book.  Something pretty, on a writing desk, with some stationary...

But this is not my life.  My life is a lot more "I found something I want to mail to my son, I'm right near the post office, and I need his address now".  (If you think there is any possibility of me remembering his address, you have never met me. )

So a digital address book is necessary.  Since I use gmail, and I use an android phone, google contacts seems like the obvious way to go.  But even though I LOVE google, and most of their products, their address book kind of sucks.

This is shamelessly copied and pasted from this  article (where a pop up add covered the screen & to get out of it I had to choose "No, I don't like winning free things" - SO annoying...)  Actually their list was 5 things, but only 2 of them seemed important to me.

Two Things You Should Know About Google Contacts:

  1. How do you get to your Gmail address book? It's hidden beneath the big Mail at the upper left of the interface. Click on Mail and you see a drop-down option for Contacts. Alternatively, log into Google and go to
  2. When you reply (including "reply all") or forward an email, Google automatically adds anyone and everyone on the thread to your contacts list, unless you have turned off this feature. Additionally, if you use an Android device, your Google Contacts might also include listings for phone numbers you've called, depending on how your account is configured on the device.
Ok, I thought I hated #2.  But I went through the "other contacts" folder and ended up adding 5 from there to my "My Contacts" list.   So it might be more useful than annoying.

Step 1 - 
Go through the "Other Contacts", checkmark the ones you want to save, move them to "My Contacts" and delete the rest.

To Sync, Or Not To Sync With Facebook?
I do not want all of my facebook contacts in my contacts.  Which makes me think for a minute about who all is on my friends list, but that's for another day.  For me, I want facebook to sync ONLY with the contacts I already have in my contacts.  That is an available setting.  In the facebook app, go to Menu/App Settings/Sync (Sync is the very last option for me)
This worked beautifully for me in gmail.  But when I opened my phone contacts I saw every single Facebook contact.  Don't worry - there's a fix for that too.  Go to Menu, choose contacts to display.  I checked the box for my gmail address, and my contacts are just as I see them if I login to my gmail contacts on my laptop.

UPDATE - my phone will not save that setting - so every time I close the contacts app, it goes right back to displaying all contacts when I login next time.  The only option I have found so far is to disable the facebook sync completely.  :-(

Merging Duplicates
Step 2 - Merge Duplicates
Quick and simple.  Across the top of the screen, under the search bar, there are 3 tabs - a check box, a person with a +, and "more".  Choose More. Then Choose "Merge Duplicates.

Step 3 - Create & Assign Groups
Groups really do make my life easier.  For instance, when I am on my way to the football field to volunteer but running late and I'm frazzled and can't remember the names of any of the other women volunteering, I click on the football group and it jogs my memory so I can text one of them and let them know I am on my way.

Or when my Dad (who is 1 of 8 children, and has 7 daughters) is in the hospital, I don't have to worry about forgetting someone in the mass text updating them on how he is doing - I just go to  my "Dad's family" group and they are all there.

How to Create Groups:

To create a contact group in Google Contacts:
  • Click Gmail at the top-left corner of your Gmail page, then choose Contacts.
  • Select contacts that you want to add to a group, click the Groups button. , then Create new.
  • Enter the name of the group.
  • Click OK.
It's much simpler, in my opinion, on my phone.  Choose Contacts/Groups/Menu/Create. 
 You can even choose a specific ring tone or message alert for that entire group.

The groups I find useful:
  • ICE - Emergency Contacts
  • Acquaintances - almost a catch all.  These are people I do not contact frequently, perhaps we were volunteers together in a group I am no longer active in, etc..  but contacts I feel should be kept just in case
  • BSF (BibleStudyFellowship group) - group leaders, and others that attend BSF with me on Wednesday. Handy if I need someone to bring a lesson home for me.  :-)
  • Cheer - similar to football, but for everyone involved in cheerleading.
  • Christmas Cards - this group makes sending our Christmas Cards much simpler.  When the cards come in next year, I can check/add addresses as needed.
  • Church - People we go to church with
  • Businesses -my hairstylist, our favorite take out, our dentist...
  • Dad's Family
  • Dan's Family  - my husband is one of 5 children.  All of his siblings, their spouses, and his mom are here.
  • Farm - The vet, the farrier, various farm contacts..
  • Football - Football parents, players,coaches and any other contact that I may need in a football setting.  Such as the Athletic Director, The High School, & the Photographer who does the team photos.
  • Friends  
  • Kids Friends - I end up with a lot of my kids friends in my address book.  That's good for many reasons, but I like them kept separate
  • Military - this is just a place to store addresses of my friends kids, or my sons's friends, that I may want to occasionally send a card to to say Thanks For Your Service.  (The Red Cross information to reach our son in an emergency is saved right in the contact for our son)
  • Mom's Family- My mom's family is small, unlike my husbands, so I can put everyone in one group.  In my husbands ginormous family, I separate the extended family into branches.
  • Neighbors
  • Our Family - Our immediate family.  Us, our kids, our parents
  • Smiths - Extended Family, Aunts & Uncles, cousins, etc, on the Smith Side
  • Truckenmillers - Extended Family, Aunts & Uncles, cousins, etc on the Truckenmiller side
Remember, contacts can be in as many groups as you want. My sister in law is also a football mom, so she appears in both Dan's Family, & in Football.  She lives next door, so she is also in neighbors.  When I had a Scouts category, she was in there too.

The Nitty Gritty of Sorting
Step 4 - Update & Clean Up

At this point, it comes down to just going through my contacts line by line.  No shortcuts.

 First I click on My Contacts, on the left hand side. This displays ALL of my contacts.  Then I look down the right hand side of the screen, there are blue labels for my contacts.  If there is a contact with out a blue label, I fix that.  Every contact should be in a group, for me, it just makes it so much easier to sort them and clean them up - it breaks them into sections.

Our area recently started requiring area codes, so the next section I looked at was phone numbers.  Were any missing the area code?  Add it.

Then I went through one group at a time, and just went over info.  I contacted a few for updated addresses and phone numbers (those I knew had moved in the past year) and I went through the stack of Christmas card envelopes that I saved to make sure those addresses were in my contacts. I had various addresses saved in faccebook messenger, emails, and in a text - I finally took the time to get those all entered in and updated.

Starred Contacts - This I Love
Clicking on the star beside contact names makes them starred contacts.  I use this for our immediate family.  Then on my phone when I click on contacts, the "favorites" category takes me right to my husband and children, making it quicker to call them.

Eliminating Skype Contacts
When Skype synced with my contacts, it did this weird thing where it made the Skype user name the main name for my contact.  I couldn't find a way to fix that, so I simply unsynced Skype contacts.  

Google+ Circles Contacts Are in My Contacts WHY?

Until I read that  article at the start of this post, I did not even realize my google+ circles were in here.  There's actually a whole bunch of stuff hidden in that left menu - when I moved my cursor over my list of groups, the menu dropped down and filled the whole side of my screen.  This prompted me to add "clean up google plus - which I never even really use - to my electronics decluttering to do list.

This is what that Article above had to say about that:
Google Contacts does pull classification information from both Gmail and Google+ (groups and circles, respectively), but they don't sync, even though sometimes it seems like maybe they should.

I sometimes wonder if google realizes how google+ works. Or more accurately, doesn't work.  Most of the people I know use it to post their blog links because then they are more likely to show up in a google search.  That's pretty much all most of us are using googleplus for.We don't know the people in our circles.  We don't need them in our contacts.  We're not even really sure how the whole circle thing works.  (I'll tackle all of that and try to figure out how to make it work for me, or at least not be clutter, another day)

My Thoughts On LinkedIn

I have received a dozen or so invitations to join linkedin in the last year, but the description is pretty clear  Professional Network.  I'm a stay at home, homeschooling, farm wife.  Nothing professional here.  I read in the article above that it is an excellent address book, but when I finally signed up, I was not impressed.  And I was a bit paranoid about accidentally spamming everyone I know with that "join me at linkedin" email.  I did decide to keep my account, and update it.  One more thing to manage, in a month when I am "decluttering" my electronics and cloud storage, but I see value in the service if I choose to look for a job after our youngest graduates next year.  Entering in all of my volunteer work, dates, and experiences, as well as skills, may be very helpful when it's time for me to think about a resume.


  1. I am not techy at all so I can see I need to visit you more often! You did a wonderful job of walking a visitor through that process. Bravo! Thanks!


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