In Japan, where the exchange of business cards hold such importance, it’s easy to accumulate a lot of them. Recently, I looked at the stash of business cards I have. A rolodex full of my Singaporean contacts and another stack accumulated in Japan crudely held together by a rubber band. And I thought about the times where I flipped through my contacts, pull out a name and contacted the person. None! That’s right. Not a single time have I used those business cards after doing an initial follow up. I would usually drop an email after meeting someone as a polite follow-up and after which the contacts gets stored in my email contacts.

I decided that I didn’t need them. Of course, this didn’t come from nowhere. Not too long ago, I had an opposing opinion. I felt I had to keep them “just in case”. What if I need to talk to that one junior client I met 2 years ago? The fact is, by the time that time comes, that person would probably have moved on from his position. If not, how hard is it to google for the company’s contact and reach out from there? The space that business cards, like any non-essential item takes up, is a distraction from what’s important in your life. It made me realise that the physical business card itself is not what’s important, but the act of exchange. The feeling of a personal connection, represented by the exchange of information. Once that has been done, like Marie Kondo says, give thanks to it and get rid of it.

Nicely designed ones that I kept on the left, tossed those on the right.

Nicely designed ones that I kept on the left, tossed those on the right.

In my own brand of declutter, I felt that immediate decluttering recommended by a lot of books are difficult to achieve. It requires a 180 degree shift of mindset and taking actions that one is not used to. Just like how an obese individual cannot suddenly eat healthy, I feel that there must be some form of easing into it. Personally, there were 2 immediate concerns when it came to tossing business cards. First, as mentioned, was that I felt there was a possibility that I might need it in the future. Secondly, I felt it was a waste for me to toss what someone else have given to me.



To help myself get rid of them, I decided to scan the contacts that have the remote possibility of me needing them using Evernote’s Scannable. Now that I have them all digitized, I decided that I would use them as coasters. I didn’t spend any time trying to make them proper coasters by stapling them together or anything, I simply threw a bunch under a cold drink each time and toss them out after. The only ones I kept were the ones with exceptional design or special printing that I would refer to when designing business cards. I even passed on my Rolodex to a colleague of mine doing sales.

Coasters for my cool oolong tea on a hot summer.

Coasters for my cool oolong tea on a hot summer.

I realise that justifying a declutter to yourself will help with the process and it doesn’t matter how you went about it, as long as you could accept it.

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