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Contact Management Solutions Aren’t Just For Corporations

Contact Management Solutions Aren’t Just For Corporations

    Whether you run your own business or you’re trying to keep your extended family organized — or maybe even both — having a robust system able to keep your contacts organized is important.

    Organization isn’t enough, though. An electronic Rolodex isn’t really enough, though that’s pretty much what most of us rely on these days. Instead, we need to be able to tell when we last talked to a given contact, if we promised to handle any tasks or any other details that our address books don’t track. That means we need some sort of contact relations management. CRM isn’t just for the folks with big fancy corner offices anymore.

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    GMail’s Contacts Just Aren’t Enough

    It’s very easy to fall into the habit of syncing everything to GMail. After all, Google is kind enough to automatically add anyone you communicate with to your address book, keeping the whole process pretty simple. But when it comes to managing your contacts, GMail just falls short. Say I want to find a doctor in the hundreds of contacts that call my GMail account home: I have to know the name of the doctor I’m looking for. Searching just for ‘doctor’ only pulls up the emails that have that word in them — far too many to sort through.

    It goes beyond missing job titles, though. Aside from very basic notes, I can’t really add information to my contacts. If I want to remember a birthday or a project that my contact is working on, I add it as a note, and hope I remember that it’s there. We’re talking about a less-than-ideal approach to contact management.

    The Practical Reason Behind CRM

    By the time you add up your second cousins, the guys you met at that networking event last year and all of the various maintenance people that keep your home in tip-top shape, you have a stack of business cards that that could rival the height of a small office building. Would you be able to lay hands on the exact phone number you need in an emergency, even after you’ve added all those numbers to your address book?

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    I don’t think I could. It’s a matter of how we remember who we’re looking for. If I needed a plumber, for instance, I’m probably going to remember who I got his name from or when I last called him long before I remember his name or company. The same can hold true for business contacts and a lot of CRM software makes allowances for the way our brains operate. Highrise, for instance, allows users to search through notes, emails and other data for keywords, like ‘plumber’ or ‘programmer.’

    Putting Business and Personal Together

    CRM software is generally developed with a sales team in mind: rather than ‘contact,’ the C in CRM usually stands for ‘customer.’ That’s why you’re able to add so much information. Anything that can lead to a sale, from remembering a birthday to a preferred work out time, has to fit.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add your personal contacts to your management system. CRM solutions can help you make both your personal and your professional life more productive. That statement assumes, of course, that you’ve managed to keep them separate. I know I haven’t, and the thought of trying to keep them separate is more than a little scary.

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    But why should we have separate programs notifying us of family members’ and sales leads’ birthdays? To manage two systems requires double the work — perhaps even more for that cousin you regularly do business with. With the advent of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn — where most people have connected with both personal and professional contacts — it seems more than reasonable to start managing all of our contacts from the same place. I get the feeling that a lot of companies discount the value of maintaining a system for personal contacts — despite the number of leads and networking opportunities that come from outside the office. Luckily, once you’ve actually got CRM software, no one can stop you from adding your personal contacts as well as those people you know professionally.

    The Sticking Point

    Your contacts of all kinds are valuable. If you’ve ever done sales for a large company you know how hard employers work to keep a Rolodex when an employee leaves. A good CRM file is worth money — it’s a matter of deciding how valuable your file is.

    The real sticking point for CRM software and those of us without companies willing to pay for it has to be the price. Joel wrote about some of the online options yesterday and none of them had a price tag I could justify for personal use. Sure, there are some free options, but they do have some serious limitations.

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    The solution isn’t precisely simple: it’s worth our while to be more productive, but much are we willing to spend on CRM? Perhaps we aren’t able to justify a high price for our personal use, but what about managing the contacts that can help us improve our careers? Our own businesses? Our outside projects? The price I’m willing to spend goes up with each group of my contacts I think about managing — how about you? How many contacts outside of your 9-to-5 job do you have? And what are you willing to do to manage them effectively?

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    Last Updated on May 27, 2019

    How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

    How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

    In a world that is full of external factors that we cannot control, it is becoming more and more important to at least control ourselves.

    Thinking positively can have a tremendous effect on our lives. By eliminating negative thoughts, we’re able to at least influence the part of our lives that we can control: our own mindset.

    In this article, you will learn how to think positive and ditch the negative thoughts. Before we dive into the step-by-step guide on how to do so, I’d like to share with you how I learned to thinking positive the hard way…

    How I Learned to Think Positive

    At the start of 2019, I was quite stressed at work with multiple tight deadlines. I was constantly worried and the stress was affecting my ability to sleep. Numerous nights in a row, I would experience insomnia, where I had a staring contest with the ceiling because my mind would simply not stop thinking about all the stressful things I had to deal with.

    I eventually got up and wrote everything down. Every single thought that rushed through my head, I wrote it down in detail. This allowed me to do a couple of things:

    • It made everything relatable
    • It showed me that every obstacle that was on my mind was not that big on its own. I was only stressed because these obstacles were big in numbers, while independently, these obstacles were just minor things that I could overcome.
    • It allowed me to think positively about these little obstacles and how I was going to conquer them one at a time.
    • Writing down my negative emotions allowed me to wipe them clean from my mind. Think of it as a laptop: after having browsed for a long time, I was able to clear my RAM and start fresh. My mind was finally clear from negative thoughts.

    After doing this, I was finally able to sleep, and the next day, I slowly started to tackle these small obstacles.

    This is just one example of how I manage to think positively and eliminate negative thoughts from dominating my mind.

    Here are other actionable steps you can follow in order to achieve the same thing.

    Step 1: Turn Every Obstacle into Smaller “Challenges”

    In the intro, you read that I was stressed because I was worrying about a big number of small obstacles as opposed to one big devastating obstacle. Writing down my worries allowed me to zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

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    As a result, I observed my problems as single challenges that I could overcome.

    When you’re currently surrounded with negativity – whether that’s because of a stressful project or problems in a relationship – you should try to dissect that challenge into different sub-challenges.

    For example, if you have to deliver a huge presentation at work on Friday, try to think of this big task as multiple smaller tasks:

    • Find sources to support your presentation
    • Think of interesting anecdotes, introductions or examples
    • Create a general outline of your presentation
    • Complete the first 5 slides
    • Add a small video or puzzle to your presentation
    • Finish the presentation
    • Think of a keyword for each slide to remember what you have to say
    • Practice the presentation in order to finish it within 30 minutes
    • Deliver a great presentation

    While this example may not be relevant to you, the message is all the same. You can tackle pretty much any obstacle – no matter how big it may seem – as long as you take it one step at the time.

    That’s how you can eliminate negative thoughts such as “I can never do that” or “I’ll never be good enough” or “I’ll never reach that goal” from controlling your actions.

    Take it one step at the time and pretty much any goal becomes manageable.

    Step 2: Realize That Positive Thoughts Can Be a Choice

    Happiness is determined as follows:[1]

    • 50% is determined by genetics
    • 10% is determined by external factors
    • 40% is determined by your own outlook

    This determination has been studied by numerous researchers, and while the details differ, the results all share the same observation:

    Your happiness can be influenced by your own thoughts.

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    Even though there are things in life that we cannot control, we can still often control how we react to these things.

    In that sense, we might not get to control 100% of our happiness but we can still influence a big chunk of it.

    I believe we can learn to influence the 40% of our happiness that is determined by our own personal outlook. Happiness is a choice, and you can learn to recognize these situations on your own.[2]

    How does this help you to think positive and eliminate negative thoughts?

    Well, because this shows you that it pays off to learn how to think positively in difficult situations.

    By developing this skill, you can really increase happiness in your life. It is definitely not always easy, but you can change a bad day into a good one just by focusing on the positives instead of the negatives.

    This is the reason why I love this quote of Winston Churchill:

    A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

    Step 3: Spend Time with the People That Have a Positive Influence on Your Life and Be Grateful for Them

    Almost everybody has a small circle of people that they trust and love, whether that’s a partner, family or friends. These people have a positive influence on your life.

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    I want you to focus on spending more time with these people. When you’re surrounded by negativity, you are more likely to postpone activities that require you to be outgoing. You’d rather be lazy and watch Netflix all day than to go outside and meet up with your friend.

    You must try to break out of your comfort zone and spend more time with the people who actually have a positive influence on your happiness. These people can act as a support net for the moments when you’re feeling down. This might sound intimidating and scary, but it’s a step that should not be underestimated.

    Even when you don’t feel comfortable sharing your challenges with these people, there’s another thing you can actively do to initiate positive thoughts; and that’s to be grateful that these people are in your life:

    • Be grateful that you have parents who support you, no matter what you do.
    • Be grateful for the friends with whom you can laugh your ass off.
    • Be grateful that you have a healthy and loving partner.
    • Be grateful that you have a kid that looks up to you and thinks you are the best.

    Being grateful might sound like a rather pointless thing to do. Why would being grateful help you in thinking more positively and eliminating negative thoughts?

    Well, the answer is simple.

    Being grateful forces you to think of the good things that you already have in your life. This allows you to face your issues with optimism, instead of negativity. People that actively practice gratitude are much better able to deal with toxic emotions.

    So what do you have to do?

    Go out there and meet up with the people you love, and be grateful for having these people in your life.

    To help inspire you to feel more grateful, here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

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    Step 4: Don’t Give up After a Setback

    So you had a bad day last week? Or maybe a terrible week in which you allowed negative thoughts to control your life? Who cares!

    We are only human, so we’re bound to experience a day of negativity every once in a while. It’s important to realize that everybody occasionally experiences negative thoughts in their life. Eternal happiness does not exist. Even the happiest man alive has experienced negativity and sadness on some days.

    What you need to when this inevitably happens to you:

    • Don’t let this set you back.
    • Don’t interpret it as a failure
    • Don’t let it stop you from trying to think positive

    You see, even the most optimistic person experiences negativity on occasion. Sure, we can try to be as positive as possible every day, but we have to accept that negativity is something that we have to deal with from time to time.

    So what if you’re engulfed in negative thoughts today? Screw it and know that tomorrow is a new day and that you can try to work on this again.

    Take a look at this article and learn about Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them).

    Final Thoughts

    In the end, there’s no arguing that we cannot control 100% of our happiness. We can’t stand in front of a mirror, repeat the words “I am thinking happy thoughts only” ninety-nine times and accept to suddenly be happy.

    It doesn’t work like that.

    However, there are a number of things we can do to at least improve our mindset in the situations where we do get to choose how we react to external factors.

    I hope that you have a better idea of what you can do in these situations. Sooner than later, you will influence your own mindset to think positively and to eliminate negative thoughts.

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    Featured photo credit: Lucas Marconnet via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] For a State of Happiness: Happiness: it’s not just your genes, stupid!
    [2] Tracking Happiness: How Happiness Can Be A Choice

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