Managing contacts has presented a significant challenge for me - in large part because I have contacts streaming into my contacts app from multiple sources. The added challenge stems from having multiple types of groups, and contacts that exist in more than one list. For example, I am on several committees, and the members of these committees change frequently.
My frustration has never been sated by the Mac OS and iOS contacts apps. I find them clunky, difficult to sync when managing different input streams, and the “groups” that I set up on one device do not necessarily “show up” on other devices.
When I read Aleh Cherp’s description of how BusyContacts* had improved his workflow, I decided to bite the bullet and pay the $50 to purchase the application. I must confess that I was dubious - I bought Busy Calendar (also $50), and found that while it is a well-designed app, I got nowhere NEAR the value for the price point. Shelling out another $50 seemed a significant risk.
But I am very glad I did. BusyContacts is precisely what I needed to wrangle my contacts into a CRM-like environment, and I am quite pleased with the value of this program.
BusyContacts applies several layers on the contacts list, each adding a great deal of organization and efficiency in my workflows.
Busy Contacts allows the user to assign tags to contacts. This is a far better arrangement than “groups,” because the tags are easily applied and removed. I keep a set of tags for each course that I teach, one for each committee I serve on, one for my staff, one for my Directors, ect. Tags can easily be added in bulk-processing as well, which I have found very useful. In fact, the tags are so useful, I find that I set up temporary tags for ad hoc projects, and then remove them when they are completed.
Tags can be seen both in the tags frame (which is kinda like having a “group” in contacts), but they can also be seen on each contact’s card - the latter feature is especially valuable.
Perhaps the best feature of BusyContacts is the Activity Window. When a contact is highlighted, a frame is displayed with all of the communication associated with that contact. For example, if I click on “Larry Smith,” I can see the emails that Larry and I have shared together, iMessages, Twitters, and even meetings we’ve had together. These activities are highly editable, so that I can see the kinds of communication I am most interested in.**
I’ve discovered that I use this feature constantly throughout the day. One of my students had a missing assignment in the gradebook. I could have searched for his name in my email, but this can take some time. Instead, I highlighted his name in Busy Contacts, and a list of all the emails he sent me were listed in the frame - sure enough, he had sent it and I had accidentally archived it.
NOW I find BusyCal to be a much better investment. The link between the two programs is where the biggest value lies. The activity window will list calendar events associated with that contact. I still wonder whether I would have purchased BusyCal knowing what I know now - but since I already have it, it is more useful to me than it was.
BusyContacts has some other nice features: color coded tags and contacts (nice but not necessary), list views (I like this a lot), smart filtering, and backups.
One caveat that bears mentioning - the tag groups do show up as “groups” if your account is synced to iOS. I am still unhappy with the iOS contacts app - but BusyContacts made it a little more bearable.
So thanks to Aleh Cherp for a great suggestion.
*This is not an affiliate link - I have no fiduciary relationship with BusyMac, except that I gave them $100 for two apps ;-)
**See the image at the top of the post for an example.
Image Credit: http://www.busymac.com/busycontacts/index.html