Decluttering And Simplifying Your Contact List

This is a guest post from Joshua Noerr of Personal Development, One Mind At A Time. (Go to his site today for a guest post from me. )

Shortly after reading Gip’s post about decluttering and simplifying, week 31, I had to make a call to an old friend. It took some time to find this person in the address book of my Blackberry, but eventually, I got there. After the call, I realized that I had names in my address book of people that I have not called in forever — some of them literally in years.

Some of the names and numbers I didn’t even recognize. The way I saw it then is I had two options: call every single one and find out who the heck they were or just start deleting the ones I didn’t recognize. The second option just didn’t seem like that much fun at all…

Making The Calls

Well, I just started at “A” and kept on going. Now there were quite a few in there that were different people than I had listed. There were the predictable disconnected numbers, changed numbers, etc.

After about a dozen calls however, things got a little interesting. I ended up calling a friend from college with a pretty common first name, so I didn’t realize I was calling this particular “John.” After realizing with whom I was speaking, I began wondering why in the world this person was still in my contact list.

We had a pretty nasty falling out because he was the type of “friend” who only really called when he needed something. I and a few other friends felt pretty used, so we decided to confront him, and he blew up. Well, life goes on, and, true to form, he actually asked me for a favor on the phone.

“Will you please accept my apology for the way I acted back then?” This was really getting interesting now…

It Can Only Get Better, Right?

Well, not quite. A few dozen more calls down the line, and I came to one I absolutely did not want to call. Something about me just won’t let me not finish something like this, and I just had to do it.

She didn’t answer, so I left a message, completely shocked that she still had the same number. About 15 minutes later, my phone rings.

“This is Josh,” my customary answer.

“I can’t believe you’re calling me,” the female on the other side said.

I do believe I had just shaken a hornet’s nest. Well, it was now my turn to apologize. I am married now, and deeply committed to my wife, so I felt I was in the right place to say “sorry” for what I had done in the past. This time however, the apology was not accepted.

That’s right, turned down flat. I had called mostly at random, and ended up saying I was sorry for my behavior years earlier, and had been flat out rejected. That was that.

This Doesn’t Sound Like Simplifying

Hang on, I’m getting there! You see, after each call, I was able to figure out which of these names would remain in the old Blackberry. About 40% were deleted immediately. The people whom I had listed had either changed numbers, or disconnected the phones, so that was an easy choice.

Getting in touch with someone meant decision time. My friend from college for instance, he stayed. We are different people now, and though our original relationship was based on who we were then, we now get to start all over.

Now my ex who did not take kindly to a random phone call from yours truly? Well, she got deleted. I tried to apologize as the person I am now. She did not accept that apology, and her reasons are her own. Either way, I feel like I did make a heartfelt attempt at apologizing, so I can be at peace with deleting the contact information.

Bringing It Home

There is actually a larger metaphor here. What I am challenging you to do extends past the phone numbers you have in your phone. Look at your relationships. Are you holding on to any that are destructive? Did you escape a destructive relationship, but still have a few momentos? Do you have some great ones that need more energy from you?

It can be very hard to say, “We can’t have a relationship anymore because of the following.” It can be equally hard to say, “I have completely screwed this friendship up for the past three months.” Both take introspection and guts.

As we go on in life and become new people, friendships fade, relationships die out, and that’s OK. That’s just part of life. Taking the time to clean out your contact list — and with it a few dead relationships — makes room for all of the great new relationships you have coming to you.

So give it a shot and clean out that list. No, it won’t make any room in your closet, but some mental and emotional room might be right around the “delete” button.

Joshua Noerr is the culprit behind Personal Development, One Mind At A Time. He’s out to prove that personal development can be funny, irreverent, and full of oddly shaped hats.


  1. Thanks for the post, Joshua. These guest posts aren’t exactly stirring up the commenters, are they? I wonder why that is?

    It’s a great post, and it examines a part of simplifying that I haven’t explored here yet. Good job.


  2. Well, sometimes I guess the nerves get hit, sometimes they don’t. Maybe everyone is on vacation!

  3. A vacation sounds nice. If it helps, my other posts aren’t doing very well in the last week or so either, although my number of subscribers has gone up slightly.

    I’ll try to mention this post in some other posts. It’s worth seeing.


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