3 Hacks to Declutter Your Digital Professional Life

September 4, 2018


Many PR and communications pros are organized, Type-A people. Even if that’s not you, you probably still have a system for being productive — whether it’s using to-do lists on Post-it notes, calendar reminders or recurring conference calls. But amid “getting things done,” we often forget to make sure we’re working the most efficient way we can.

In the spirit of reverse spring cleaning, here are some tips to help you declutter your digital professional life this fall.

Email autopilot

If you’re using folders to organize your emails by project, client, deadline or other subject, then take it a step further by having your email software filter messages into those folders for you. If you receive daily digests or Google alerts, for example, you can direct them to client-specific folders. To track whether a recipient has read your email before you follow up on it, try the Streak plug-in for Gmail.

When traveling, I often fall behind on my well-intentioned attempts at organizing my inbox. So when I return from a vacation or business trip, rather than let old emails pile up I enter a search query for a particular subject and then drag large quantities of related emails to their respective folders at once. For example, I search by domain (the part of the email address following the @ sign) to quickly find all the messages I’ve received from people at one company, rather than just from one specific person. 

Social media sweep

There are two types of people on Facebook — those who have hundreds of friends, and those who regularly click “unfriend” to keep their social media feed personal. Whichever kind you are, I encourage you to clean up your company’s social media presence by un-following accounts that are no longer active or relevant to your mission.

Some social media users consider a high-following to low-follower ratio a sign of a poor-quality profile. Combat that perception by making sure the social-media pages you manage for your company or clients aren’t wasting follows on inactive accounts. The apps ManageFlitter for Twitter and Followers Pro + for Instagram help you sift through and review the social media accounts you follow to see whether they’re still active.

Similarly, if your company maintains public lists on Twitter, then update them every few months. If your company account has a public list that includes staff members, make sure it only lists current employees. Your Twitter lists of journalists covering particular beats should also be kept current, to make sure they’re still reporting on subjects you find relevant.

Task refresh

Are you a task-management hopper? Maybe you keep losing Post-it notes or have a digital memo on your phone that’s too long to scroll.

If notification bubbles from countless apps are getting lost on your phone, then you can set up an “if this, then that” (ifttt.com) command to text yourself 24 hours before events scheduled on your Google calendar. The software connects and automates apps, devices and services from different developers.

Whatever the case, keep looking for new productivity hacks. Let me know how you declutter digitally by tweeting me @citygirlhanna and including the hashtag #PRSA.

Hanna Porterfield

Hanna Porterfield is the immediate past chair of PRSA’s New Professionals Section. She works in health care public relations as a senior manager of social media at W2O Group in Chicago and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Connect with her on Twitter: @citygirlhanna.


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