Work More Effectively Anywhere: The Communicator's Digital DeclutterThere is…well, kind of a lot going on in your day right now.

And the odd dynamic of time and space means that can leave you feeling like you have accomplished approximately zero things. 

So that’s why we are going to focus on the small things we need to do and can do in mini-segments of focused time.

(AKA: When your kids are on “recess” or busy with the latest game you made up to get them to do their schoolwork.)

Let’s Clean

The good news is, some of these things are probably items you should be doing, but just don’t make the time for in your day-to-day.

Or maybe things you always want to do, but get so caught up in client work, you end up triaging them at the last minute (or not doing them at all). 

Today we are going to focus on a nice digital declutter.

Because nothing makes you feel like you kind of sort of have your life together than cleaning, right?

Think of it as a disinfectant for your digital assets.

Digital Declutter Must: Your Email

If you haven’t started using Sanebox, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

It’s not like we don’t talk about it enough on this blog.

So that’s the first place to start our digital declutter. Set-up Sanebox. Now. Immediately.

Gini discusses more about how amazing Sanebox is here.

This year we both also started using SuperHuman. And I don’t even know where to begin with that. It’s phenomenal.

I’d bet, between those two programs, I save 10 hours of email management time a week. No joke.

It takes a village to have a manageable inbox and my village includes Superhuman and Sanebox.

Alas, even with these tools, you do need to clean out your inbox.

Delete It Like You Mean It

This is where it gets a tad trickier.

You are going to want to handle this in different ways depending on your individual situation, but here is how I do it.

  • Start with the junk mail folder. If you haven’t already cleaned that baby out, do it. Now. Easy. “Select All,” “Delete.” Hmmmmm….relish in how great that feels. Look at you, you bad mama jama (or papa jama..or just jama), you are accomplishing so much already! 
  • Now let’s look at any other folders you have. Do you still need them? Are they useful? Or do they need to be deleted or archived? Go through and take a nice trim off your folders and the emails in them. Start fresh with only email folders you need for 2020.
  • Next, think about old clients. Like really old. Clients you stopped working with more than a year ago. Search for emails to them and from them. If you feel you need to keep these somewhere for legal or protection reasons, archive them. But if not, delete, delete, delete.
  • Take special joy in deleting the emails from clients who caused you a lot of grief.

Take Your Main Inbox

Now how about your main inbox.

Does all the email that goes there need to stay there? Can you divide up your inboxes to manage them more clearly?

(SuperHuman makes these super easy, but you can do this in most email systems.)

I like doing this because, while I’m NEVER the type of person who can reach “inbox zero” in my main box, I can in my sub mailboxes.

And that’s nice.

I mean, it’s also nice because it keeps things much more organized, but let’s call a spade a spade, my real goal is to feel good about myself and my achievements.

Most likely as you start doing all of these things you’ll see other places you can cut.

For example, I now regularly delete my entire SaneLater folder on a bi-weekly basis. If I haven’t gotten to it and the person hasn’t emailed back, then it’s probably not important. Gone.

Start to make a process for yourself that you can do monthly in an hour or so and take back control of your email.

Social Media Clean-up for the Communications Pro

Now is a good time to re-evaluate everything about your social media profiles: both personal and professional.

Here’s what you should look at for your social media digital declutter:

  • Profile bios: Do you need to update, edit, remove, add anything?
  • Current public posts: Good idea to scroll through and see if you need to archive or delete any older posts. Do they no longer jive with your brand or direction? You don’t need to go too far back, but definitely take a look and make sure things make sense. This also will help you see what’s being posted and what changes need to be made (if you don’t manage your social media yourself).
  • Evaluate how and why: How are you using your channels? What are the goals of each? What needs to change. Maybe you don’t even need some channels anymore? Focus on your goals and how your social media efforts move you closer (or farther away).
  • Habits: This mostly speaks to your personal use. What are your social media habits? How do they contribute to or take away from your 2020 goals?

Here is a nice hit list with some social media clean-up tips to help.

A Comms Pro’s Hard Drive Always Needs a Good Clean

Your hard drive is slowing you down, man.

Videos, documents, ebooks, images….your hard drive works hard for you. It deserves a digital declutter to keep it clean and keep your computer functioning at its best.

If you are a Mac user, CleanMyMac is the If you’re not a Mac user, let your hard drive die and get a Mac (OK, OK sorry…I know some of you have to use PCs).

While I don’t have personal experience with tools to clean-up non-Mac computers, this article and this article look to be helpful (if you have a tool you love please post in the comments and I’ll add it here).

A Keyword Strategy Refresh

If you took our 30 Day Communications Challenge in January, you should have already done this.

Otherwise, I’d start with this article on how to research your content plan in Gini’s awesome content creation series.

Every PR pro should be concerned about your organization or client’s keyword strategy, no matter what area of communications you focus on.


Because in today’s digital world, the keywords you wish to rank for should be part of your efforts across ALL media types: paid, earned, shared, and owned.

No exceptions.

(Start here –> How to implement the PESO model, if you don’t know why.)

Clean-up Your Google Analytics and Data

Just like keywords, every communicator should include data in their digital declutter.

A while back I went to my favorite data and Google analytics gurus to help me with a checklist for this one: the Trust Insights power team of Chris Penn and Katie Robbert.

Here is what they said:

  • Data digital declutter tip #1: Audit the metrics you’re reporting.
    • Can you take action on it?
    • Is it helping you reach your goal?

Katie provided this example to help you think through these questions: if your goal is revenue and you’re looking at bounce rate—can you draw a clear line to how bounce rate affects revenue? Can you fix the bounce rate? If not, stop tracking it.

  • Data digital declutter tip #2: Streamline Data with Dashboards
    • You’ve likely accumulated a lot of random and junk data from people asking one-off questions, or questions specific to accommodate and inform their particular needs. If you use Google Analytics Data Studio, take your cluttered catch-all of questions and make versions of the dashboard for different stakeholders.

For example, you know the CEO only cares about the bottom line, have that on a dashboard they can see daily.

If your manager cares about something different, have those metrics on a dashboard just for them.

Need more help on what metrics to track?

Check out this measurement guide. 

Clear Out Unused Subscriptions

Pull out your corporate credit card and look at the services you’re subscribed to and are paying for.

What are you using? What are you wasting money on?

If you haven’t logged in to any of them in the last 90 days (or no one on your team has), pull the plug.

It’s less data, less mess, and will even save you money.

This is a good one to do for yourself personally, too.

Don’t use it? Pull it! Put that money toward something you will use.

Ready, Set, Shred!

Gini recommends doing a declutter once a quarter, so the timing is perfect for you to check off your first quarter declutter box (she has even more tasks to add to your routine HERE).

And with that, let’s start our digital clean-out. Make it a goal to declutter all of your digital assets this week.

Next week I’ll be back with more easy (-ish) but necessary tasks to accomplish.

Image by Mimzy from Pixabay

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino