Digital Detox for an Uncluttered, Productive New Year

Keeping the inbox clean is a compounding task that often gets bumped to the back burner. What about Facebook or LinkedIn? Over time, that trusty news feed (in theory) gets stuffed with posts we don’t need. We continue to receive push email notifications from companies, pages, and groups we opted into years ago and no longer interact with.

Here are five tips for how to make digital inbound communication channels more productive, regain access to the information you want and need, and start the year less stressed.

  1. Gather, evaluate and purge emails. Leave emails you subscribe to from businesses, organizations, and feeds (not personal emails) in your inbox without deleting them instantly - let them pile up for a week. If you no longer find value in them, open them, look for the ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘change preferences’ options (usually at the bottom) and update your settings. Want to know who’s following you? Get this information from mobile apps or when you’re logged in versus email notifications.
  2. Create structure and an email organization system. Create inbox folders, assign labels, and even use filters and rules for emails you’d like to file away automatically for future reading. If you use Gmail, drag emails between Primary, Social, and Promotions tabs to prioritize them and avoid missing important messages. Use an automated feed service to receive regular emails with the latest news from your top sources all in one place, versus emails from each one.
  3. Un-follow (yes, it’s socially acceptable). Un-follow irrelevant publishers in your social news feeds. Un-following helps us focus on who we truly want to follow and find value in, and clears our streams of information we have to sift through or skip over that may have been relevant for a short period of time.
  4. Update payment info. If you pay monthly or annual subscriptions to services like Dropbox, hosting companies, and third-party applications providers, make sure your payment information is updated. This prevents future emails about failed payments and saves time later.
  5. Out with the old, in with the new. If you’ve discovered new, inspiring companies, publications, and resourceful content providers over the past year, subscribe to receive their news or follow them on appropriate social channels.

Rebecca Otis is the Content/Social Media Manager at Digital Third Coast, a Chicago digital marketing agency. She started her own small business marketing consultancy at the age of 26 and has spoken at HP Catalyst and BlogHer events on social media and education and small business marketing on a budget. She is a member of the Chicago Blogger Network and Chicago Food Bloggers organization, also serving on the Social Media Club Chicago board. You can find Rebecca on Twitter and Google+.

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