Hello and welcome back! If you're here for the first time you can catch up on the previous Teach Tuesdays here: week 1, week 2, and week 3. Today I'm going to be talking about not only how to get all your information down in one place, but also why you should have a central place where you keep all your correspondence's information.
This may sound like a daunting task and for transparency's sake I'll just go ahead and tell you it is a big job. But don't be scared off, you put in the effort to do this once and it becomes a piece of cake to update old details, add new people, and find information like birthdays and anniversaries quickly. Think about it like your desk: if you have everything you need at your fingertips you are more productive, efficient and probably happier at the ease in which you can get things done throughout the day. Similarly, if you have all your friends' and family's addresses, birthdays, and maybe even a gift idea list in one place it's going to be effortless to get those cards in the mail!
Putting in the effort right now to organize your contacts once and for all also pays off from year to year as you fill in your calendars. I'll talk more in an upcoming Teach Tuesday about exactly how I stay ahead of the game, but having all the information in one place is foundational to never missing a birthday, anniversary, graduation, wedding, or even thinking of you event throughout my year. An awesome bonus? I mentioned above a gift idea list (and talked more about it here), but you can also keep track of gifts you've already given. Trust me this will come in handy...
But where do you start? First off, round up all those bits of paper, backs of envelopes, notes jotted down on your phone, emails, and anywhere else you've saved any of your contact's information. Next pull up Facebook or whichever social media site you use that reminds you on the day of your friends' and family's birthdays. If you're trying to remember big life events like pregnancies, new homes, kids starting school, and other major life changes Christmas cards are a hotbed of information. (Side note: I tend to lean toward minimalism, but I save Christmas cards that are sent to us each year and many times I have rifled through past years for the correct information on weddings, births, etc. so it really is useful!)
You can make this list as expansive as you want regarding who you include, but a good way to narrow the list from all 400 of your friends on Facebook is to look at a more recent party you've had and who you invited. If you wanted them at your baby's baptism or apartment-warming party than you probably want to remember to send them an awesome birthday card! A wedding guest list or Christmas card list is a giant head start as well. If you keep a planner or calendar with dates already, toss that into the pile and get ready to organize.
Alright we've got all our different avenues of information, so now you're going to download your free spreadsheet where I've already organized the categories for you under the "EVENTS" tab! From here it's a simple matter of inputting information. This is tedious and you want to make sure you're paying close attention to your numbers here because some people take their birthdays very seriously (looking at you brother who celebrates his "birth month"). However, this can totally be done with a beer and binge watching a quality show (or whatever fun looks like to you) just make your environment comfortable and this won't seem like a chore.
A few pointers on what to include:
- Birthdays | Having the full birthday including the year is ideal because you can then shop easier, buy age appropriate cards, and win arguments with your partner when they think your nephew is 5 but he's actually 4.
- Anniversaries | It's nice to know the year people are married and not just the day and month.
- Graduation | I like to include from what school and with what degree. This hasn't had a usefulness yet except to make me really proud of my friends and family, but I feel like it will some day!
- New Job | Include where the new job is! This is great for people that you are not as close to, but want to stay in touch. Remembering details like someone's current job is touching and makes for a great topic if you're stumped when writing a card.
- Passing | Not a happy subject, but death is sadly a fact of life. I include this only when I am very familiar with the person and I know they will be comforted, rather than saddened, by a thinking of you card around the time of their loved one's passing.
- Personal Dates | This is about you too! Clearly your not going to send a card to yourself, but this is a great place to keep key dates in your life jotted down. I have, for example, the day my husband and I moved from Wisconsin to Maryland, the day we bought our house, our dog's birthday, and our own work anniversaries. It's fun to see these from year to year!
- For all events | If you send a gift, be nice to yourself and include what you send from year to year. Between my husband and I we have a combined total of 18 nieces and nephews. Yeah. So every year when one of the teenagers' birthday rolls around (because that's when we start giving cash money baby) we never remember what we gave the year before and/or to other siblings. SO be kind, write this stuff down!
So now what? You've just organized your card-worthy events like a boss, but what to do next? Pat yourself on the back, have another beer and come back next week where we'll do the same, but with addresses. It sounds like a lot, but the work upfront now means you can basically put your snail mail on autopilot for the rest of the year and be the envy of everyone you know because you ALWAYS get your cards out on time!